Google's 2022 Earth Day Doodle shows the impact of climate change and glacier retreat

Google’s Earth Day Doodle Is Absolutely Brutal

April 22nd is Earth Day, a day that “marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.” While activists in the 60s and 70s sought to raise awareness over air and water pollution, the situation has grown considerably more fraught. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet, and since the 1980s has been driven by human activities. Many in power—and those responsible for worsening conditions—twiddle their thumbs or seek to deny that it is even happening. The 2022 Google Doodle for Earth Day should act as a shock to the system for anyone who still has their head buried in the sand: those who load up google.com will encounter wrenching imagery of time-lapse climate change in action—images that make for brutal yet vital viewing.

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Below is the image that first greeted me this morning. When you click through, Google takes you to a page of results for “Climate change” (defined here as “long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns”)—which, by way, has 2,810,000,000 search results.

Google Earth Day April 22nd doodle shows impact of climate change
This is happening: glacier retreat in Greenland over a 20-year period

“Today’s annual Earth Day Doodle features real time-lapse imagery from Google Earth and other sources showing the impacts of climate change across our planet,” Google writes in their Earth Day Doodle page description. The images, generated using Google Earth timelapse, track the extremely real and varied effects of climate change at four different locations: glacier retreat in Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and in Sermersooq, Greenland, coral reef bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and “Forests destroyed by bark beetle infestation due to rising temperatures and severe drought” in Harz Forests in Elend, Germany

Google Earth Day 2022 doodle shows great barrier reef bleaching

Visiting the Google Doodle page will show you more harrowing images of how shockingly altered the Earth has become in a short amount of time, and clicking through on each location shows you the time-lapse in sequence. The oldest images here span from 1986. All of this devastation and ravaging of the planet’s temperatures and ecosystems occurred within my lifetime.

Google Doodle imagery shows glacier retreat in Africa for Earth Day 2022

It’s my hope that many will encounter Google’s Earth Day Doodle and have it act as a wake-up call about the realities of climate change. Climate change is happening, and its impact is deadly and ruinous. This situation is getting worse, and it will have (and already has had) life-altering implications for all life on Earth. Check out these organizations that are working to make a difference, the UN’s campaign for individual action, and Google’s own plans to drive action on climate change.

You can also pick up a copy of Rachel Carson’s game-changing 1962 book Silent Spring, which is a huge reason that we are marking an Earth Day and an environmentalist movement at all. “The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries as it raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health,” earthday.org notes in its history of the day.

I hope you can have a joyous Earth Day as well, celebrating all that is still beautiful about this planet and the people working so hard to preserve it. Here are events happening around the world as well as online, and activities you can undertake with kids to mark Earth Day in your own home.

(images: Google/Earth Day Team)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.