Google is putting its considerable resources behind a new partnership with the UN, national governments, and non-governmental organizations that will chart changes in the Earth’s various ecosystems in real time. The partnership was launched during the Political Forum on Sustainable Development that took place at UN Headquarters in New York City on July 16. Representatives from around the world were on hand to review the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a set of clear, measurable goals for global development accompanied by guidance about best practices and ways to measure progress towards implementing its goals.
According to UN Environment,
“Google is partnering with the United Nations to help measure the impact of human activity on ecosystems around the world. The project, which launches today, will provide real-time data to organizations and countries looking to plan and direct actions in response to quickly changing environmental conditions. The goal is that, with free access to this valuable data, more countries will pursue sustainable development.”
Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment, adds, “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right.” “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”
Using its ability to bring “massive parallel cloud computing technology” to bear on the data available from the network of satellites orbiting the Earth and with the help of a user friendly front end designed to make that data easily accessible to all interested parties, Google will make it possible for all interested parties to monitor changes in the Earth’s ecosystem in real time.
The new collaboration will focus first on monitoring freshwater ecosystems such as mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes. These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss of freshwater biodiversity is occurring. Google will produce geo-spatial maps and data on these ecosystems that nations and organizations can rely on to generate statistics on the degree of change in those areas. That data can then be used to help prevent or even reverse ecosystem loss.
Google has been helping the UN to monitor climate change, deforestation, and food production for a number of years. Erik Lindquist, forestry officer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization told Reuters in 2016 that maps that used to take three years to draw can now be created in a week. “Rather than preparing data to analyze, we can spend time probing the data for answers. We’re getting to answers much more quickly,” he said at a UN conference in Rome. Google expects its new project to become a platform for free open source environmental data that can be used to assess progress on the UN’s sustainable development goals.
There is something else going on here. For decades, the oil industry has been paying people to debunk climate science. It has done its job so well that Rick Scott, the alleged governor of Florida — whose state is in danger of being washed away by rising ocean levels — has decreed that the words “climate change” may never by uttered by anyone in his administration. Lunatics like Scott Pruitt and James Inhofe have based entire careers on carrying water for the “junk science” movement. The majority of Americans are represented in Congress by avowed climate change deniers.
By taking the task of assessing the available data away from government organizations and climate scientists, Google may actually be able to legitimize the conclusions that the data leads to and expose the climate deniers for the charlatans they are. Information is power and nobody on Earth has access to more information than Google. Heaven help anyone who dares attack it — even Treasonous Trump.