UPDATE: We have received an email from Google informing us that the changes made to Los Angeles in Google Maps was an error.
"The map has been corrected and no longer reflects this inaccuracy," says a Google spokesperson.
The original story is below.
Information about the climate impact of human activity has gotten Google jumping into the serious discussion about the issue through Google Maps. The latest version of Google Maps now offers a literal view of the situation, providing an insight into the effect of increased ocean levels.
On Friday, users of Google Maps began seeing how coastal Los Angeles would look like in the event that it went under the sea. Neighborhoods such as Malibu and Santa Monica provide illustrative examples to meditate upon.
The updated Maps appeared on the same day as a worst-case-scenario report that makes the situation in Google's pictures tame and negligible. The report states that complete exhaustion of Earth's fossil fuels will bring, among other effects, an effective increase in sea level of hundreds of feet.
For now, Google did not disclose if there will be other cities showing shoreline modifications. Seeing their own country or home city affected would be a huge blow for most people and maybe an encouragement to think more about environmental issues.
But while Google left out major American cities like New York, Climate Central did not. The climate science organization built a map where you can see how important cities in the East and West coasts of the U.S. would fare under the rising ocean levels. For example, a 10-foot sea rise near New York would affect tens of neighborhoods and uproot millions of residents.
This situation could happen after a global temperature increase of only 2 degrees Celsius (or 36 degrees Fahrenheit). An analysis on the effects of increased carbon emissions proves that, provided we do not limit the emissions, Manhattan residents might want to invest in boats by 2050.
Risks extend beyond the limits of low-elevation cities. Some countries, especially from underdeveloped regions, have virtually non-existing policies regarding carbon emissions and their industrial systems are poorly regulated. This puts everyone at risk.
Another useful tool comes from KILN. The group provides a Carbon Map that stores data on CO2 emissions from the last 150 years. It organizes countries by "responsibility" and "vulnerability", which explains the different approaches nations have taken in the face of the issue of global warming.