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Google Maps Testing Climate Change Feature

September 14, 2015 - Written By Mike Carey

On Friday of last week a worst-case scenario report was released to the news media about the effects of sea levels if we burn all of our fossil fuels.  Also on this same day Google turned on a new feature in Google Maps that showed the California coast line under water with just a 2-inch rise in those levels.  What a better way to make people aware of the effects of those gas guzzling SUV’s then to show a map of their neighborhood underwater as a sort of doomsday scenario.  

Now there are two sides to every argument and that is definitely the case about climate change and it looks like Google was doing its part to raise awareness on the issue or open some eyes.  It looks like the Los Angeles area was the only part of the country where this feature was turned on, and maybe that was by design but either way their maps are back to normal as of now.  Google has said the feature was turned on accidentally which seems to be a big coincidence and timed just right to match the worst case scenario report.  

There are plenty of places to go on the internet to find maps or information about climate change but none put the information in front of our faces.  Only a very small part of the devastation that rising sea levels would cause was shown by Google but just a quick Google search will lead you to multiple maps from many different sources to show if you would need a raft to make it to the grocery store.  This climate change feature is only visible in Maps and not in Street View or Earth, which would be a neat little feature to overlay the effects into those products as well, though that may be too graphic for some.   Google has come out and said that it was not a new feature but a software glitch that has since been fixed.  The search giant blamed one of its many maps partners for the issue and the California coast is now back to normal.  Time will tell if this was indeed a new feature that could someday be turned on to allow us all a dose of climate change reality.