Home UN and Google Create Climate Change Mapping Resources

UN and Google Create Climate Change Mapping Resources

In January 2009, only 41% of US voters believed that global warming was caused by fossil fuel emissions and other man-made causes. According to a recent Rasmussen national report, the majority of those surveyed over the phone believed that global warming was part of a natural planetary trend that will reverse itself over time. In a panic to sway public perception and environmental decision making, the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat recently teamed up with Google to create a Greenhouse Gas Map detailing man’s environmental pollution. The map is a color-coded Google Maps mash up that pulls national greenhouse gas inventory and Kyoto Protocol data to display toxic emissions in industrialized nations. The tool was created in anticipation of the UN’s Climate Change Conference to be held at the end of this year.

As the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, leaders from more than 150 countries will convene in Copenhagen to establish a post-Kyoto global climate change agreement. A simple look at the map’s lethal levels of carbon dioxide make a good case for stricter emission limits. While the project is certainly one of the more recent environmental map mash ups, a number of efforts have already been implemented. Below are four additional green mapping projects.

1. Atlas of Our Changing Environment: The United Nations Environment Program uses Google Earth to exhibit time lapse and environmental changes. From the effects of coal exploitation in northeastern Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, to controlled burning in Australia’s Wyperfeld National Park, to the growth of the aquaculture industry in Ecuador’s Guayaquil – the map shows human implications on the environment. One of the great things about this tool is that in addition to negative effects, you can also see how proper urban planning can help preserve large sections of forest.

2. Stopping the Coal Rush Map: The Sierra Club also utilizes Google Earth to make its case for environmental responsibility and clean energy alternatives. The organization has mapped the country’s planned coal plants in recognition that the air pollution pumped from these plants is likely to increase public health issues and global warming. The colored pinpoints on the map signify the building status of the coal plant and the details behind the site’s permits. In some cases you can read where Sierra Club has lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to overturn air permits.

3. Earth Knowledge: This site mashes up Google map information with news stories on biodiversity, climate change, geology and water pollution. News sources like Science Daily and Reuters offer stories on global sustainability and alternative energy. Users can also discuss topics with other community members.

4. Home Project Maplet: For this year’s World Environment Day, Google launched the Home Project– a full length feature film on climate change. Shot by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the movie is an aerial look at the planet and climate change. In conjunction with the movie, Google released an amazing map applet, complete with geo-tagged Wikipedia, video, web cam and photo layers. Users can also find tagged information on biodiversity, global warming factors, water and poverty.

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