I’m prone toward optimism, generally speaking, even when things are a little hard. But I worry at times that my optimism is little more than a defense against complete disintegration, because when it begins to slide, it can feel awfully hard to figure out how to move on. And of course the last two years have seriously challenged that optimism; at moments it’s been hard to stave off the certainty that everything is terrible, in fact, as the evidence seems determined to prove.
So the disappointments (multiple disappointments, in fact) of the last couple of weeks were proving harder to bounce back from than I wanted. How do you move forward when it seems like the paths forward are being closed off?
Today, I think I found a new path, with the help of two enthusiastic colleagues. I shouldn’t be surprised, I think, that the thing I most needed was connection with some folks as committed to our common project as I am. But it was pretty astonishing to recognize how much brighter my outlook became after those two meetings. Because I think that’s the deal with my optimism: it’s not that I assume that everything is or is going to be good, but that I see a means of making it better. It’s not a matter of looking up, but instead of looking forward.
Map-making is a tricky business with many variables to consider that can directly change how someone interprets the land and people in a location. The Cartography Playground is a simple site to test these variables interactively. Learn about algorithms, mess with appearance, and toggle through representations.
The Padma River in Bangladesh is constantly shifting its 75-mile path. Joshua Stevens for the NASA Earth Observatory shows what the shifting looked like through satellite imagery, over a 30-year span.
The upper section of the Padma—the Harirampur region— has experienced the most erosion and shows the most notable changes. The river has become wider at this section by eroding along both banks, although most activity occurred on the left bank. Using topographic, aerial, and satellite imagery, scientists found that the left bank shifted 12 kilometers towards the north from 1860 to 2009 and developed a meandering bend. The river left a scar where the water once flowed, as you can see in the 2018 image.
See also the dramatic shifts of the Ucayali River in Peru.