Earth Day is 43 years’ old today, a milestone marked by one of Google’s annual doodles dedicated to the event. The day of environmental awareness has been marked by a Google doodle for as long as I can remember, from melting polar ice in 2007 (a prophetic nod to the record Arctic melt that year), rocks in 2008, a waterfall and marine life in 2009 toparrots in 2010, pandas in 2011 and animated flowers in 2012.
This year’s somewhat pastoral scene of hills, snow-capped mountains and a lake teeming with fish seems to be making a nod to the hydrological cycle, if I’m not over-interpreting the animation. If you click the clouds, for example, it rains, and there appears to be a spot of percolation with water making its way through the soil.
There are a pair of bears in caves and, if you click the hole near the front, a badger pops out – is this Google’s pre-emptive strike against the government’s plan to resume its delayed badger cull this summer in a bid to tackle bovine TB? Probably not, but it’s cute nonetheless.
Google’s no stranger to environmental efforts, of course. It’s funded a stack of renewable energy projects – though in 2011 it quietly shelved one effort, RE<C, which hoped to see renewable energy become cheaper than coal – and in 2011 the internet giant published its carbon footprint for the first time. Turns out it’s the equivalent of the United Nations, or a little higher than the emissions of Laos.
Earth Day, born in the US in 1970, was the creation in large part of Gaylord Nelson, a US senator and Democrat, who died in 2005. It is designed to “[activate] individuals and organizations to strengthen the collective fight against man’s exploitive relationship with the planet.” Denis Hayes, the national coordinator of that first day, said a few years back that he thought the day had achieved many of its aims.
“Beyond any doubt,” he said in 2009, “today the basic core values are vastly more ‘green,’ if you will, than they were in the 60’s and 70’s.” But with a recent global poll showing that public concern over environmental problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss is its lowest in 20 years, it’s clear that there’s still a need for Earth Day.