Looking for the Bigger Picture

I wrote this post as a possible article for Education Lens – a new, but growing resource of materials to help young minds counteract the corporate propaganda present in today’s society – check it out.

There has been a spate of ‘news’ reporting recently based around a night-time image, taken from the International Space Station, of North Korea and surrounding countries.  North Korea certainly has less lighting at night compared to South Korea and the part of China it borders, but does this make it unusual in the world?  Here are a few sample headlines:

Yahoo: Nasa photo shows North Korea is in the dark
National Geographic: New Space Station Photos Show North Korea at Night, Cloaked in Darkness
HuffPost: North Korea At Night Is A Sea Of Darkness
Fox News: North Korea left in Dark Ages in video from International Space Station

Even the BBC’s Science Editor, David Shukman, got in on the act with ‘The infinite darkness of North Korea’.  You’d think a scientist would be more careful with the use of the world ‘infinite’.

David Shukman tweet - The infinite darkness of North Korea

(Hat tip to Media Lens for that one)

And there have been plenty of folk happy to tweet and retweet the image, spreading the ‘news’ that North Korea is in darkness.

It takes just a quick Google Image search to find satellite images of the whole world taken at night.  Such as this one (click to see it larger):

Night-time satellite image of the world
So I’ll finish this post with a few questions:

  • Is North Korea unusally dark in the world?
  • What does the quantity of night-time light say about a country?
  • Why did the photo of North Korea make the ‘news’?
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One Response to Looking for the Bigger Picture

  1. Kieran Kelly says:

    More to the point: First the US bombs a country “back to the stone age”; kills 20-25% of its people; then imposes crippling sanctions and acts to prevent peace and reunification for 60 years – what does it say when they cite as proof of their own righteousness the fact that they have succeeded in turning half a country into a backwater? To paraphrase: they who have put out their lights reproach them of their blindness.

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