This article discusses the effects of land use on the environment. Looking at food resources, freshwater resources, forest, regional air quality, and infectious disease. Using GIS they are able to address a growing issue that has gone on unmonitored for hundreds of years.
After evaluating the information it is discovered that agriculture and pasture land rivals that of the largest terrestrial land mass or ecosystem. with nearly 40 percent of all land being covered by either farms or pasture land. This has a profound effect on runoff into the water tables and irrigation drawing water from the water table both very unsustainable practices. Also the increase of infectious disease is allowed to spread much more rapidly and uniformly. Most all excess nitrogen and phosphorus that runs in to dead zones of river deltas resulting from the clearing and subsequent use of farming practices on the land. Since 1850 over 35% of human carbon emissions have been attributed to land use and change. Often from the amount of energy and heat either reflected or observed. Often any land change often leads to a radical change in the hydro logical cycle to account for irrigation and sanitation.
The map blatantly displays the change of land over thousands of years of use and what it was used for or the Bio sphere in each area. Land change can be caused from a number of reason not addressed in the map but related to deforestation, road construction, dams, and urbanization all increase the rate of deforestation. Not shown but could be interesting would be the a map that shows the 40% or so of the eroding and currently degrading land.
This is a growing issue that needs to be addressed and better managed using GIS we are able for the first time address the whole picture and see the change over time, for what reason, and how to combat the change and resulting effects on the environment.
Foley, Johnathan A. "Global Consequences of Land Use." Science 309.11 (2005): 570-75. Print.