Sunday, December 28, 2008

From U2s to Google Earth Maps

Many years ago the United States felt the need to be able to SEE what some of the rest of the world did not want us to see. Today the National Archives allows computer access to some of the photos that brought our nation to the brink of war. Moscow and Cuba look pretty stark in black and white, but apparently those who interpreted the differences in pictures could tell when the missiles in Cuba had been taken down or pointed a different direction. Those same archives may include pictures of a very sober President Kennedy who had the responsibility for playing poker with the biggest stakes of all.

Today Google Earth maps are available over much of the earth. Weather maps and even topographical maps reveal much of the effects of man’s “advances.” The satellite pictures over Spain and Italy reveal the multitude of green houses that reflect light back into the atmosphere. Another satellite reveals slabs of ice sliding into the Arctic Ocean. From the International Space Station, smoke from California etches out the latest environmental disaster in living color.

The oldest grandson studied the Civil War last year and one of our gifts to him was a book of maps of the various battlegrounds. That book included photocopies of the actual maps available to the generals at the time of the battles—and then the actual topographical maps of the areas as they were in reality. The differences were astounding. Obviously the battles might have had entirely different outcomes had the maps of the time been accurate. But that brings up a curious thought. What if another nation were to consider invasion of this—or any—nation today?

Despite satellite photography and infrared or heat mapping capabilities, are there areas of America that are hidden from view? From East to West Coasts and from Canada to Mexico, great highways cross our nation for easy access. If the generals of the Civil War were to see the maps of today and consider their options, how would they proceed? If national security depended on the American people today as defenders of their states, would they even consider the lay of the land, or would they look toward the skies? After watching the wars in Israel, Afghanistan, and Iraq on TV, perhaps no nation will need worry too much about topographical maps because we know that even a mountain cannot provide a sufficient bomb shelter.

Our ability to watch wars on TV has given us a false sense of security perhaps. It seems that as long as we are watching, then perhaps we are not really involved. But we need to remember that maps are no longer a deciding factor in wars today. And whatever happens in a small nation across the oceans WILL affect all the continents on that same globe. Pray for peace.

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