Climate change. We hear so many dramatic numbers and see so many disturbing charts and graphs that, after a while, they tend to just wash over us.
The old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. So how much is a picture that changes constantly with the flick of your finger? That’s the model of a free iPad app debuting today (March 15) called Painting with Time: Climate Change.
It’s a special edition of the relatively new app launched late last year that allows you to change a picture by selecting a time of day, season or year and rubbing your finger across the iPad screen to reveal how the scene looked then. The really fun part is swiping in different views side by side — for example, to show one side of a woman’s face as she looked at 18 years old and another at 80.
The new Global Warming version of the app applies this method to climate change. Many of the 17 images are typical before-and-after melting glacier pictures. And since the "before" images from the early 20th century are invariably in black and white and the after images are generally in color, it’s a bit hard to fully appreciate that you are looking at the exact same place.
More dramatic are images of things changing in just a few years — such as Cape Hatteras, N.C., dramatically retreating from the sea in just five years, or the Lake Powell reservoir dropping so far that the Colorado River has settled back into its old channel.
The climate change debate may never end. But whatever you think is the cause, clearly dramatic things are happening to the landscape. And while it may be an odd choice of words, the Painting Time app does make it "fun" to explore these disturbing — but also fascinating — phenomena.