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YouTube Gold: Lidar Continues To Amaze

Colombia: Amazon rainforest from observation place at Putumayo
PUTUMAYO, COLOMBIA - MAY 25: Mocoa’s river mighty during a heavy rain at the Amazon observation place in Mocoa, Putumayo, Colombia on May 25, 2022. Colombia is generally less associated with Amazonian experiences than its neighbours, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. The major access point to the countryâs jungle is in Leticia, a remote city, barely accessible by road, and the decades-old internal conflict has left vast swathes of forest in the eastern plains as no-go zones. So Mocoa, a mere 12 hours by bus from Bogota, has the potential to become a fantastic destination for travellers looking to spend some time in Colombiaâs jungles.
Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Clearly we have many issues to deal with and it may be that we are in a race between our stupidity and our genius and smart money usually bets on stupid.

Nonetheless, we are in many ways in, if not a golden age, then certainly a new one in which our knowledge and capabilities might yet outrace our collective idiocy (everyone at once now: not me!).

One of the most amazing innovations of our time comes in many phones now, where it is used to measure distance among other things. But the same technology is pushing archeology centuries ahead: LiDAR.

The basic concept is about sixty years old but only recently has it improved enough to be applied to archeology.

When mounted on planes, LiDAR can see beneath the canopy and find traces of ancient civilizations.

Well, more than traces.

Enter the brilliant book 1491. Published in 2016, this book has many ideas that, at the time were so radical many archeologists dismissed them out of hand. Ideas like driving herds of buffalo from the plains to Georgia are still unproven.

But other ideas about the Americas like vast civilizations, far bigger than previously believed possible, in Central America are now undeniable, thanks to LiDAR.

And now it appears that another radical idea was also correct, again thanks to LiDAR: the Amazon was also home to vastly more people than believed possible and there is now clear evidence of a previously unknown and sophisticated civilization there that built roads, canals, causeways and reservoirs.

This puts another radical idea in play: that the Amazon was actually created by humans.

Stay tuned.