Google Steps in to Fund United Nations Climate Programmes

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

More evidence that taxpayer funds are not required for climate research.

UN Environment and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet

New York, 16 July 2018 – UN Environment and Google announced today a global partnership that promises to change the way we see our planet. Combining environmental science, big data and unprecedented accessibility, this joint effort aims to expand what the world knows about the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems.

When completed, the platform will leverage Google’s cloud computing and earth observation public catalogs and for the first time enable governments, NGO’s and the public to track specific environment-related development targets with a user-friendly Google front-end.

“We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”

Too often, when a country seeks to implement real-time environmental action, they find their efforts halted by gaps in critical data needed to direct those actions safely and effectively. Through this partnership, and Google Earth Engine’s analysis and visualization tools, the world can finally begin to fill those gaps, enabling decision makers to better invest in environmental services.

“This partnership announcement builds on a common shared vision between our organizations,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach. “We are excited to enable all countries with equal access to the latest technology and information in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”

Long term, the partnership hopes to establish a platform for open-source data and analysis of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As an entry point to development, the partnership launches today with an initial focus on fresh-water ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss freshwater biodiversity.

Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel cloud computing technology. Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies, and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.

Other areas of collaboration include advocacy and capacity building activities as well as the development of partnerships with organizations like the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The partnership was launched during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in at UN Headquarters in New York, where world leaders are gathering to review of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a set of clear, measurable goals for global development – as well as best practices and progress towards implementation.

Source: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-environment-and-google-announce-ground-breaking-partnership

Isn’t this how it should be? Private organisations with an interest in a field of research stepping in with their own money, instead of demanding money from the taxpayer.

I’m open to the idea of government funding for pure research, but Google’s actions surely demonstrate that in a high profile field like climate research there is simply no need for taxpayer involvement, because there are plenty of private individuals and companies with the resources and motivation to provide the required research funding.

Update (EW): Fixed a typo (h/t Clyde Spencer)

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108 thoughts on “Google Steps in to Fund United Nations Climate Programmes

  1. I did not find anything about Google providing funds. They offer computer services.

    • IIRC Google is involved in digitising library book content so that only the approved online version will be available to read.

      Now that is a worry!

    • Private organisations with an interest in a field of research stepping in with their own money …“. If only. With Google you just know it’s not like that. Try “… an interest in corrupting a field of research …“.

    • If Google was in charge of Election Result Data, Trump votes would have been downtrended and Google would have announced Hillary’s win

  2. Now that Trump is getting control of the “out of control” NASA and NOAA departments, the u.n. (Universal Nutjobs) and googly goo want to become the new “Gate Keepers” of climate data !! We are in the “Adjustocene” remember…

  3. Whilst Google (actually Alphabet) is free to do with its own money as it wants, it is still a publicly traded company with responsibilites to shareholders. So I see your point Eric. But all Alphabet is doing is putting real money in the Green Virtue Signalling Bank blackhole. So if the CEO and Directors think this is wise money spent, that’s literally their business.

    But I have to chuckle at the hubris in those press statements.

    We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,”

    The implicit assumption in that statement is actually hilarious.
    And then there is this statement,

    ” Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies, and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.”

    The poster child for this is Bangladesh. but no one needs advanced cloud computing resources to know what Bangladesh’s main problems are (ans: too many people living in a sinking river delta), or how to solve them (ans: have much fewer people living in a sinking river delta).

    They pretend its Rocket Science needing Big Data crunching. It’s not of course.
    What they really want is fewer people consuming limited resources in more ecologically friendly ways. And the only way to do that is to decrease birthrates by increasing GDP per capita, which is dependent on energy consumption. And without abundant use of fossil fuels by the 3rd World to achieve that, anything else is just Green Washing the problems with political junk rhetoric.

    • How cynical we’ve become….. and for good reason. Your assessment of Google’s skin in this game is right on IMHO. Didn’t Google already invest time and money into proving alternatives to fossil fuels (excluding nuclear) can’t handle the load economically or realistically? From my observation they approached the problem very scientifically and concluded with an honest answer. No? We continue to beat this poor dead horse of AGW to death only because the vested interests haven’t achieved their goal of everyone capitulating to killing off fossil fuels completely. Meanwhile our fossil fuel use increases as every one only pays lip service to reducing it and those that try harder are paying a price with their reliability and economics.

      • “…every one only pays lip service to reducing it…”

        What do you mean everyone? I’m not even paying lip service to it. Drill, baby, drill! Burn, baby, burn!!!

      • Is Al Gore still on the Google board of directors?
        While vice-president, he wanted to make military satellite imaginary available to the public.
        Hmmm…
        Did he invent the internet AND Google Maps?
        (I wonder what he’s up to now?)

    • Eff You, Joel Obrien.

      What couple in Bangladesh is having “too many” kids?

      Who the Fleeping Flip are you to tell a couple in Bangladesh how many kids they should have???!!!

      Do you want to come over to my home, and get in my face, and tell me and my wife how many kids we are allowed to have?

      Do I get to go over to your home and tell you and your spouse how many kids you SHOULD have, and SHOULD NOT have? And, do I get to declare that you SHOULD be married and trying to have kids, whether you like it or not??!!

      Eff you, and go to Hell. You Effing Fascist Totalitarian.

      I and my spouse will have as many and as few kids as we please. No need for this to be declared or dictated for us by any “scientist” or “politician.”

      Eff you, and go to Hell. You Effing Fascist Totalitarian.

      • LastDemocrat,

        You have to learn how to say what’s really on your mind. No more beating around the bush for you just because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

      • T L D,
        Wow! you read Joel’s comment and did not understand one bit of it.
        Remarkable.

        Read these words: “by increasing GDP per capita,
        Whether it is you or a person from Bangladesh, the idea is to upgrade the standard of living.

        And these: “without abundant use of fossil fuels

        You, T L D, went off half-cocked on a tangent. You completely missed Joel’s intent.
        I have found many Democrats have this fault.
        Please try again. Thanks for engaging.

          • third…ed?….
            It’s ok Last Dem… I’ve been known to fly off the handle when misinterpreting someones words. The good news is that based on your rant I see you are opposed to top down, slow kill and probably direct kill de-population. This is good.

            I hope you continue to research and work on your logic/reason, so these tantrums aren’t as severe in the future. And trust me…I ain’t judgin’ ya brother.

      • nice rant…pity you f/d up though;-) roflmao!
        nowhere at all did JoelO SAY that they shouldnt have kids
        what he did say was too many people living in the flood delta
        and solution was less people
        which to anyone who READ it as written suggests that relocating some of the masses might be a wise response.
        unlike yours.

      • “Eff You, Joel Obrien.

        What couple in Bangladesh is having “too many” kids?”

        TLD, where did Joel say anything about people in Bangladesh having kids or how many kids someone from Bangladesh should have? Answer nowhere, Joel didn’t mention kids in Bangladesh at all. Your rant is based entirely on your own deficiency in reading comprehension, not on anything Joel actually wrote.

        What Joel did say was the problem is “too many people living in a sinking river delta”. While having less children is one way to limit the number of *additional* people living in a sinking river delta, it wouldn’t solve the problem (and isn’t what Joel was suggesting happen) as the number of people already there is too many and thus would still be an issue. The more effective way (and the one Joel was suggesting in that paragraph) is for those people to simply move elsewhere (preferably to somewhere other than a sinking river delta) ie “have much fewer people living in a sinking river delta”.

        Where Joel does talk about birthrates (not in the paragraph about Bangladesh) ie “decrease birthrates by increasing GDP per capita, which is dependent on energy consumption” He’s talking about the phenomena in wealthy, energy rich parts of the world where, as peoples wealth increases (“increasing GDP per capita) their birthrates tend to decrease – without recourse to any “Effing Fascist Totalitarian” mandates. Nowhere does Joel talk about mandating decreasing birthrates, that is a delusion of your own making.

      • lsst democrat,
        Joel is not telling anyone to have fewer kids.
        He is pointing out the correlation between prosperity and low population growth.

    • Your first quote is the most revealing. “getting the data right” presumes determining which and how much data we need to get. No one has even begun to figure out specific answers to those questions yet. But until we do, we can’t even begin to solve any environmental challenges – if any.
      The current approach is backward and cannot succeed.

        • sadly, that is exactly the plan.
          Also, shouldn’t they be decommissioned or shouldn’t the government step in due to anti-trust laws aimed at preventing market monopolies?

      • Do you suppose getting the data right might include refraining from changing the data when it doesn’t fit your models?

        • jarthuroriginal, More likely it means changing the data when it doesn’t fit your models. After all the models are correct (because the models give then answer they want), it’s the data that’s obviously wrong!

    • Generally agree, but resources are not scarce (see my comment below) and sinking deltas build themselves up.Water encroaching upstream causes a sediment burdened river to hit still water earlier and drop its load and raise the low ground. Now, they may ultimately have their buildings buried, but the delta will survive nicely. Actually Bangaladesh is doing rather well economically these days.

      • while ” resources are not scarce”, in certain parts of the world the energy needed to make effective use of those resources is. And it needn’t be. Cheap reliable energy (which fossil fuels provide) is what’s needed, not the expensive unreliable “sustainable” energy the green blob is trying to foist on the world’s poor.

        (and, BTW, it’s not the survival of the delta that is at issue in Joel’s comment, but rather the survival and/or quality of life of the people living there – having the buildings you live in be buried isn’t a positive for the people).

    • No.
      It is time for skeptics to start shareholder movements and lawsuits to hold public companies accountable for squandering corporate assets and resources on climate con artists and their schemes.

  4. Shut down google the left wing propaganda crap hole. It looked like they were involved with hacking down the Brietbart site today.

  5. “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”
    _____________________________________________________

    Sounds reasonable – and promising!

    • Promising neomaxist management of your daily life. There is no shortage of resources requiring concern about the lefty made up concept of sustainability. This is a Malthusian word, not a scientific one.

    • Aah! But what is the **right** data? Will Google be any more reliable than most of the other sources?

  6. Eric, in your first sentence did you mean “More evidence…” rather than “Move evidence…?”

    • I went to Windows 10 and “Edge” – – on a 2 screen desktop.
      I consider Microsoft a much lesser evil than Google.
      For search I use DuckDuckGo. For geography I use Google Earth.

  7. Good to see that one of the planet’s largest consumers of electricity, i.e. largest polluters, is going to give everyone easy access to THEIR tools to monitor climate change. Of course, we can all trust this large polluter to create software that is totally unbiased & completely accurate. The fact that it will also perfectly mirror the “settled science” position on climate change is a no-brainer.

    Considering that I use various Google products, I am disappointed that they want to publicly wave their “virtue” under our noses while doing the exact opposite in their fight for advertisers dollars.

  8. “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right”
    Data manipulation.
    Data tempering.
    Data homogenisation.
    Data massaging.
    Selection bias.
    Ascertainment bias.
    Question bias.
    Comparison bias.
    Outcome bias.

    • Jamal please submit a guest-essay based on your paper.
      Many won’t download your paper for a variety of reasons (even if they realise it’s not paywalled).

      • Champagne socialists and their useful tools wont download it. They are however all reading Hillary’s book, which really should have been entitled “WTF Happened”.

    • Chaamjamal

      Thank you.

      A well written, entirely understandable paper, even for a dunce like me.

      With your permission, I’ll try to get it to someone who might broadcast it on a prominent public stage.

  9. “Satellite imagery … will be generated …”. I certainly hope that this part of the statement is just another case of the press-release author not knowing what he or she is writing about. I don’t want Google generating satellite data – let the satellite do that.

    • Google Engineers saw the light with renewables; they may see it with greenwash AGW too. That would be interesting…..

      • Having said that, as one trained in the matter, I would like to see freshwater status made publicly visible year-round. Instead of alarmist handwringing whereby all natural waters are assumed to be pure all the time…..

  10. I don’t trust Google. I don’t “Google” anything (DuckDuckGo), I don’t use Chrome, I don’t have a gmail account and I don’t use Google maps. I do occasionally look at YouTube however I don’t have an account. I also don’t use an Android phone.

    Instead I trust my soul to Apple, which actually may be worse but at least they aren’t so blatant about using my personal information.

    • I use Google all the time. I’m still waiting for the black helicopters to take me away.

      Wait, what was that? Heard noises from outside…

    • I tell me client to use Google when searching for the IRS website, as it will keep them safe.

  11. Too often, when a country seeks to implement real-time environmental action, they find their efforts halted by gaps in critical data needed to direct those actions safely and effectively.

    By “gaps in critical data,” you mean evidence that anything need be done at all?

    • Should more accurately read as follows:

      “Too often, when a country seeks to implement real-time environmental action, they find their efforts halted by holes in their bullshit story that expose the lack of any need to take any such actions at all.”

  12. “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right…”

    So they’re saying we haven’t got the data right. I’d say they’re more qualified than most to know if it is right? Many skeptics are in agreement that there are problems with the data.

    Google is one of the largest publicly traded companies. I don’t care what anyone says about them, I’ll never sell their stock. They must be tired of winning.

  13. “…a user-friendly Google front-end”
    It’s the user-unfriendly back-end we have to be worried about.

  14. Im not as cheery as you Eric about this. This organization will be funding or permitting use of its huge computing resources to foist a totally made up metric on us by our marxbrother masters. Sustainable development is a crock invented as a political control tool! Earth’s resources are colossal vis a vis their usage.

    Mining has become a “topping up” exercise. Except for a few tons shipped to other planetary bodies, all that has been produced remains largely accessible on the earth’s surface. Your gold ring has metal in it mined millennia ago. Technology has refuced unit demand for earth resources to a tiny fraction of what was needed only a few decades ago. Think a 1960s computer requiring a large airconditioned room with a fraction of the computing power your pocket calculator which happens to be your phone, camera, word messaging device, tv radio, home security…

    Think substitution. We dont demand zinc, we demand rust proofing for steel, batteries, etc. etc. Copper for comunications, transfering information, electrical conductance is now old fashioned. The earths crust is 10% alumina, 60″ silica we can make conductors out of Al, fibre optic cable from silica, go wireless… We will never run out of resources. Resources accummulate and we miniaturize. Why isnt this important enough to teach in school and save us from the ugly carrion that write and plan all this Malthusian stupidity.

    • Using the Google satellite photos you can look down on most of those weather stations by just knowing where to look, if you have the coordinates. Meanwhile, Anthony Watts did a project with college students a while back to photograph the official weather stations across the U.S. It did nothing to stop NASA and NOAA from tampering with the data or moving stations in bad locations. Just search this site. There are plenty of pictures here showing bad locations (mainly those near buildings, air conditioners, and asphalt).

  15. 1. First, do no evil.

    2. “Other areas of collaboration include advocacy…..”

    3. Er…what was that first point again?

  16. How about a Google database of failed climate disaster predictions that people can query online? It could show the predictions, key words, the author(s), their qualifications (or lack thereof), the year of the predictions, the year of the projected adverse effects, geographical location of impacts, source references, links to comments on the predictions, etc.

  17. “Isn’t this how it should be? Private organisations with an interest in a field of research stepping in with their own money, instead of demanding money from the taxpayer.” Don’t bet on it. It sounds like U.N. will give some type of grant money to google which is the tax payer’s dime.

  18. There is actually a distinction between data and information. Data is a just a bunch of bits that are turned into information by a process and if there are more than one process you can get two or more sets of information from one set of data. And that’s where the problems start.
    Here is an example : Data 362436 information:36,24,36

    A good real life example is the way temperature data is processed into anomalies

    • Well, it goes deeper than that. As far as weather data (which in the aggregate becomes “climate” data) goes, “data” SHOULD be the actual readings from the actual instruments. Instead they “cook” this into something that, in the end, simply isn’t “data” anymore. And that’s BEFORE it is “processed” into “anomalies.”

  19. The question to ask, Mr Worrall, is what Google will do with the results of the research.

    If you think they will do anything but maximise shareholder returns, you are dumb.

    Taxpayer funding gives taxpayers leverage. Google funding does not.

    Is taxpayer leverage evil, Mr Worrall?

    Do corporations treat humans properly, Mr Worrall?

    Or are these fundamental questions too uncomfortable for you??

    • They could minimize returns I guess.
      Define properly. When we have Bernie Sanders bemoaning corporate whatever and the United States cutting the corporate tax rate…

  20. FROM THIS : “Google is supporting climate change deniers”
    Earlier this month, Google hosted a $2,500-a-plate fundraiser for one of the world’s most powerful climate change deniers, Senator Jim Inhofe. And just two weeks before that, Google poured $50,000 into the coffers of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank that is also funded by the likes of the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil to put out faux “studies” that are used by policy-makers to deny climate change exists.
    TO THIS :
    “A global outcry is starting to build now that people see Google moving away from its unofficial corporate motto — “Don’t be evil”. Let’s make sure Google knows that tens of thousands of its own users want it to cut off all support to climate change deniers.
    Pretty obvious WHO prevailed !
    FICKLE BUNCH OF BASTARDS !
    STILL…………IT’S THEIR MONEY …..THEIR CHOICE !
    PITY THAT THEY CHOSE “The Religion ” AHEAD OF “The Facts ” !!!

  21. While I am relieved it is not taxpayer money going into this (yet), I still find the whole idea vaguely creepy. No, make that prominently in-your-face creepy. That’s all I need, go to Google Maps to try to plot a trip to the beach, and instead of getting a route I get, “You can’t go to the beach today. It is inundated by sea-level rise because we say it is.” And you look at the Aerial Photo view, and sure nuff the beach is missing. Out of sheer perversity you drive to the beach anyway and find the same beach that was always there, with the same one-legged sandpipers and plenty of overweight sun-worshippers, and everything is the same as it ever was. But Google will be constantly intruding in my every search to tell me it’s not (I don’t use Google directly anymore. I switched to DuckDuckGo a couple years ago).

    “…get the data right…”

    When the u.n. says it, I hear, “…Global Warming is not showing up in the data, so the data must be wrong…”! Don’t laugh, I have read that statement before! On RealClimate. I can no longer find the quote, but maybe the Wayback miners can help me. It was sometime between August 2008 and probably no later than end of October 2008, I believe I remember going to the right-hand side of the screen, same place WUWT posts links to Sea Ice Pages and Spaceweather.com and etc, they had Posts by Author, and I clicked on the first name I had heard of, and I think it was Gavin Schmidt (so the actual date of his post may have been some time before I went searching for it). About four paragraphs down he made that audacious statement, followed by, “…but don’t worry, we have some people working on that.” If anyone can find it, I’ll even pay a reward. What’s your favorite beer?

    I’m afraid I’ll have to go back to using MapQuest (are they still around?).

  22. UN Environment and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet

    Wait, what? They’re going to protect our planet? What are they going to do, set up a planetary asteroid defense system? A dust shroud around the earth to protect from gamma-ray bursts? A fleet of interplanetary warships to protect from alien invasions?

  23. Eric, you got it all wrong. Partnering means Google will charge huge sums of money to provide services nobody needs. In fact the first part of partnership will be a discovery process where Google will enlighten UN of how the UN cannot exist without its cloud services. It will be all tax payer money.
    I work for a company partnering with Google and they sell their junk very expensive.

  24. I’d put my praise on hold until I was sure what Google was really up to with this….Google + Governments = Scary.

      • Twitter and Trump is interesting. If it was anyone other than Trump, twitter would have banned him long ago (like they have many other conservatives). During the election at first he wasn’t seen as being a serious contender who wasn’t really a conservative, so there was no need to take down his twitter account, once it was clear he might win the GOP nomination his twitter feed was seen as a source of fuel for attacks against him so taking away his account would have been counter productive (the left failed to realize that what they found to be “beyond the pale” in his tweets didn’t play the way they thought it would in flyover country) and now that he’s been elected it wouldn’t look good for twitter to take action against the President of the United States.

  25. The EU just fined Google $5 billion on some trumped up anti-trust claim. Serves ’em right to suffer.

    • With the eventual loss of British money due to Brexit, the EU needs to find money from somewhere. Too bad for Google.

  26. FFS

    “user-friendly Google front-end.”

    WHENEVER has google done ANY UI that wasnt screwed up and non intuitive

    Oh, I See they have the google earth/engine folks involved

    These are probably the worst guys when it comes to supporting users.

    • Mosher ==> I hate it when I have to agree with you……

      I did UI for the early IBM-produced web sites for the Olympic Games and Tennis Grand Slams….interesting work.

      GOOGLE considers arrogance a corporate plus.

      [ I once surprised some early internet adopter by calling him from IBM International HQ in response to his complaint about some feature that wasn’t working for him……sorted it out in a couple of minutes. I did this over and over for several years — handling our complaints comments — as a hobbyhorse. ]

      • We once did a special version of BEST for google with 1km resolution for their earth engine

        A ton of work and then they shitcanned the entire project and orphaned the work.

  27. Google’s “progressive” stance on “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change®” is why I now use Duck, Duck, Go exclusively, for all my on-line searches, and why I switched from Chrome back to Firefox as my browser (latest version of FF ver 61.0.1 seems to have fixed the performance/speed issues which vexed earlier versions).

    • I’ve been a Firefox user for some time. Never liked Chrome anytime I tried it, even without the Google political shenanigans.

  28. Well. Google owes the E.U. $5 Billion for Android shenanigans. This “pledge” will like be another to occupy the Pledge Bucket.

  29. “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”

    Not that you can’t see it from that pretty transparent statement, but one thing is a guaranteed certainty; when “UN Environment” is “partnering” with ANYONE, the one thing that absolutely WILL NOT happen is that they will “get the data right.” The only “data” you’ll hear about from this unholy partnership is that which fits their preconceived conclusions. Anything else will be “corrected” or suppressed.

  30. “We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right”

    Right.

    “Too often, when a country seeks to implement real-time environmental action, they find their efforts halted by gaps in critical data.”

    Wrong. The data often says they don’t need to worry.

  31. All the more reason to continue to use DuckDuckGo. I wonder if they will use their engineers that told Google managers that renewables was a lost cause in their assessments to be provided to the UN.

  32. Seeing the racks filled with servers and thinking how many 100’s of thousands there are now @ google, IBM, Apple, Amazon, et al, all running 24/7 on fossil fueled electricity, it’s obvious why they should attempt a PR effort of saving the planet. If the warmists have a clue, they’d recognize that their theory of CO2 despoliation of the planet better not be true. NB: There are no server farms running on wind or solar. The Cloud runs on fossil genererated electricity.

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