The Washington Post

EARTH DAY 2013: To celebrate, Google Doodle puts the power of nature at your fingertips

ZEUS, Jupiter and Al Roker: Eat your heart out.

To celebrate Earth Day on Monday, Google lets us become the god of weather.

The tech titan’s home-page Doodle today is not only animated, but also interactive, letting users click through each season, even as the skies rain and swelter, the animals emerge and submerge and the waterways freeze and babble. (Fireflies and badgers and bears, oh my.)

The four-season natural setting spells out the word “Google” — from the floral first “G” to the gurgling “g” and “e,” with cavernous “o’s” and an arboreal “l” linking the ever-changing scene.

“Today we are celebrating Earth Day with an interactive doodle that captures a slice of nature’s subtle wonders. We hope you enjoy discovering animals, controlling the weather, and observing the seasons,” writes Leon Hong, who co-created the animation with fellow Doodlers Kris Hom, Mark Ivey, Greg Capuano, and Ryan Germick (with a scientific assist from former Hom high-school teacher, Dr. Juan Fernandez).

To make sure we don’t miss a trick or a tick (or at least a roving army of ants), Google has include a “sightseeing checklist” that includes the seasons, the clickable flora and fauna (bears emerge the cave, and a badger from its hole), as well as the precipitation (just click on the clouds). You can also click on the sun and moon to stop and start the day’s rotation.

For every season, turn, turn, turn.

(Last year, Google celebrated Earth Day with a blooming logo.)

Google also puts its money where its river-mouth is: In a white paper on renewable power issued last week, the company says that it has “committed over $1-billion to renewable energy project investments, signed agreements to procure over 260 megawatts (MW) of wind power near our data centers, and installed 1.7 MW of solar at our corporate headquarters.”

This year, Earth Day’s emphasis is on climate change.

To raise environmental awareness, the first Earth Day was celebrated 43 years ago. Then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is credited with founding the “national teach-in” about the environment that was staged April 22, 1970. The late politician said that the seeds of that Earth Day lay in the blueprints for a national conservation tour during the JFK administration — the same period during which Rachel Carson published her landmark book of environmental warnings: 1962’s “Silent Spring.”

“Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level,” said Nelson, who posthumously was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Now, nearly 200 nations recognize Earth Day and its goals.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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