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7 ways humans are damaging the planet

By: Katherine Butler on Sept. 5, 2012, 5:56 p.m.
Dubai construction

Photo: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC//JAROS and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

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Dubai rises from the desert

Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, exists on land where rainfall is sparse. In fact, less than 1 percent of the country’s land is arable.

The city itself has been around for centuries, but at the turn of the 21st century, Dubai rose up from the sands as a resort destination with a population of more than 2 million.

Replete with gardens and golf courses, palm trees now line the coast. This is possible due to oceanic desalinization plants that have enabled the city to water itself. In this false-color image, “bare ground appears brown, vegetation appears red, water appears dark blue, and buildings and paved surfaces appear light blue or gray.”

The famous palm-shaped island is part of an effort by Dubai to increase the amount of beachfront around the Persian Gulf. Palm Jumeirah is one of several islands created by dredging up sand from the seafloor.