Google’s New 3D Tool Shows How We’re Killing Our Heritage Sites

Still not taking climate change seriously? Then, you really need to check out this newly launched Google tool that will show you what you have done to the world’s most treasured Heritage Sites. It’s not a pretty picture! By Tanvi Jain 

Heritage on the Edge, Google’s newly launched tool, allows you to virtually monitor how climate change has affected five of the world’s most treasured Heritage Sites, via its 3D mapping, photogrammetry and drone footage — all created with a full sense of scale and function. First, photogrammetry helps capture images of the same object from different angles with the help of multiple cameras, after which any difference in appearance helps infer the object’s spacial and textural details. Based on this, a 3D composite is created. 

The website shows 50 exhibits of five UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely, Rapa Nui (Easter Island); Kilwa Kisiwani on Tanzania’s Swahili Coast; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, Scotland; Mosque City of Bagerhat, Bangladesh; and the ancient city of Chan Chan in Peru.

Apart from exploring 3D models of the heritage sites, you can also take virtual street tours, and learn how every monument is on the verge of destruction due to the ongoing climate crisis. 

Few instances of this destruction include the earthen walls of Chan Chan, an ancient city in Peru, which have been eroded by regional rainstorms driven by climate change. Similarly, the City of Mosques in Bagerhat and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are under threat due to rising sea levels 

On the website, every time you click on a heritage site, it first briefs you about its history, what it used to look like originally, and the cultural importance it holds. Another icon takes you through the site’s deterioration over the years i.e. how it has been worn out by natural calamities like floods, storms, droughts, etc. Moreover, via this tool, you can also listen to locals of the site’s region talk about the structure’s importance, and how they are tackling climate change as well. 

The tool has been made with the support of The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), along with CyArk, a non-profit in Oakland dedicated to creating digital archives of the world’s major cultural sites. 

Back in 2018 as well, Google had started estimating greenhouse gas emissions for individual cities. 

Related: At 16, Activist Greta Thunberg Blasts World Leaders Over Climate Change

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