Google is celebrating Earth Day by showing satellite imagery showing melting glaciers, receding snow, deforestation and coral bleaching as a reminder to users of humanity’s impact on the climate and environment. The Earth Day 2022 Google Doodle contains four gifs created from satellite imagery and oceanographic photos that will change throughout the day. They show the retreat of glaciers at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania between December 1986 and 2020, and the melting of glaciers in Selmer Souk, Greenland, between December 2000 and 2020. Other images show the results of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef near the lizards. Deforestation in the Australian islands from March 2016 to October 2017 and the Harz forest in Ehrend, Germany from December 1995 to 2020.
Climate consultant Lesley Hughes, professor of biology at Macquarie University in Sydney, said the images of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef are “a very strong visual image” that will resonate. “Our ultimate natural icon, of which we are the custodians, is a symbol of the impact of climate change on an extraordinarily diverse ecosystem,” Hughes said. “Our physical and biological world is transforming before our eyes, and that is what these images emphasize, and therefore there is no time to waste.” In March, the Great Barrier Reef experienced its sixth mass bleaching event: aerial photography showed that the 1200-kilometer stretch that escaped the heat was almost free of reefs – the first known event occurred during the year in La Niña. Hughes said that for those elsewhere, the images of retreating glaciers would be just as meaningful.
In New Zealand, huge and ancient glaciers are thinning at an alarming rate. The National Water and Atmospheric Research Institute (Niwa) found that a third of the permanent snow and ice in the Southern Alps disappeared between 1977 and 2014, and that sharp decline has begun to accelerate rapidly over the past 15 years. Most recently, the summer of 2017-2018 brought 3°C warmer temperatures than the New Zealand average, causing some glaciers to shrink so much that they almost disappeared.
Elsewhere in the Italian Alps, long-buried artifacts are being unearthed as the ice melts, leading to the discovery of equipment left behind by soldiers camped on the peaks during World War I and a 5,300-year-old crime scene when Otzi’s mummified body was found. tourists. What has been a boon for archaeologists is also a symptom of the catastrophic threat posed by climate change. Forni, one of the largest valley glaciers in Italy, has retreated 800 meters in the last 30 years and 2 km in the last century.
The images contrast with the positive note of the animation released for Earth Day 2021, which the company says was designed to “encourage everyone to find a small act they can do to restore our Earth.” Hughes said the comparison images released in 2022 could be a response to the IPCC26 report and are important in raising awareness.
“I think when you’re sitting in a bourgeois environment and it’s a beautiful day and the sun is up or down, it’s easy to come to terms with the larger forces at work in our climate system and the impact those forces are having,” Hughes said. . . “So it’s really important to remind people that climate change hasn’t gone away just because today is a beautiful day.”
Alphabet, the company that runs the Google search engine, says it has been carbon neutral since 2007 and plans to completely convert all of its data centers to renewable energy by 2030. In 2020, the company used 15.5 terawatt-hours of electricity primarily to power its data centers. It also reduced the amount of waste generated from its activities by 40% to 28,864 tons, but increased its water consumption. Figures for 2021 have yet to be released, but the company says it has offset its emissions by buying enough renewable energy and offsetting its consumption.