Happy Earth Week!
As you probably know, Earth Day has been around for over four decades with its goal being to educate the public about the environment. As we’ve moved into the 21st century, the reality of global climate change and humanity’s role in its acceleration has prompted a more in-depth and intuitive look at natural and human systems as we continue to adapt to a warmer future. Maps and geographic information systems allow for a spatial understanding of our environment, with information being simple enough for anyone to understand yet complex enough to encompass the many facets of our rapidly changing world. By understanding the past, current, and potential future of our environment, we can make conscientious decisions today to build a better tomorrow; GIS mapping can help make sense of a world’s worth of data.
By analyzing where humans are initiating the largest impact on the environment, activists and policy makers alike can make more informed decisions on what types of areas are in the most need of reform. This map through Esri shows that though there is a correlation between population density and human footprint, it is not the only factor. For example, first world countries are much more likely to contribute to a harmful effect on the environment. Equipped with this knowledge, the world population can make better, more informed choices on policy and practices moving forwards.
CO2 emissions are one of the most recognized and well-researched contributions to global climate change. Despite increased efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, they still are on the rise. Looking at maps of overall CO2 emissions as well as how they have changed allows us to visualize what areas of the world are in the most need for policy reform when it comes to carbon dioxide.
One of the hottest topics when it comes to climate change and protecting the earth revolves around the Arctic. We’ve all heard that the Arctic’s ice is melting; we’ve all been subjected to the “Save the Polar Bears” campaign. However, without a direct, firsthand look at the state of the Arctic ice, it is easy to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. With the use of GIS, we can see the change in Arctic ice over the years, giving a much more personal feel to an issue that seems so far away. Comparing the Arctic ice from 2010 to 2012 alone shows the attention climate change needs on Earth Day (and every other day of the year).
Obviously the most important consequence of climate change for humans revolves around how our actual living environment will be affected. With the use of GIS mapping, we can see the change in regional climates, affecting food and water supplies, ecological systems, and much more. By collecting the data in a visual space, we can see the shift from regional climates in 2000 compared to the projected climates in 2080:
With these maps, we are given a preview of 1,000 years worth of change happening in merely 80. The visual representation of this phenomenon serves as a much more compelling and dynamic educational tool.
Through sustainable engineering and forward-thinking technology pursuits like GIS applications, we at Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. will be happy to celebrate Earth Day knowing we contribute to a sustainable future. Have a great Earth Day tomorrow, and go plant a tree (and document it using your GIS Tree Tool)!