||The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS) has a unique low-light imaging capability developed for the detection of clouds using moonlight. In addition to moonlit clouds, the OLS also detects lights from human settlements, fires, gas flares, heavily lit fishing boats, lightning and the aurora. By analysing the location, frequency, and appearance of lights observed in an image time series, it is possible to distinguish four primary types of lights present at the earth's surface: human settlements, gas flares, fires, and fishing boats. We have produced a global map of the four types of light sources as observed during a 6-month time period in 1994–1995. We review a number of environmental applications that have been developed or proposed based on the night-time light data. We examine the relationship between area of lighting, population, economic activity, electric power consumption, and energy related carbon emissions for 200 nations, representing 99% of the world's population.