Future of the Environment on Google Earth


To coincide with our special Future of the Environment issue, we’ve constructed a Google Earth layer highlighting several geographic points of environmental interest around the world. If you’re already a Google Earth user, download and open the layer here to begin browsing; if not, now is a perfect time to start exploring one of the more amazing pieces of mapping software ever conceived!

1. Start by heading over to to download the free application. It works for WIndows, Mac OS X and Linux. Google recommends having either a desktop computer no older than four years or a notebook no older than two years to run the software smoothly.

Download our Future of the Environment layer here, and double-click the downloaded file (popsci_future_environment.kml) to open with Google Earth. If it doesn’t open automatically, choose File->Open in Google Earth to open it manually.

3.With the layer loaded, the globe should be dotted with white and green markers indicating places of interest. Double-clicking them will zoom in and open descriptive boxes with expanded text, images and links.

4.You can also double-click each placemark (arranged by folders) in your “Places” panel at left to zoom in on individual locations. Think of this as the layer’s table of contents.

5.Some placemarks contain links to additional images to overlay on the Google Earth viewer. Clicking these links will open a new overlay in your “Temporary Places” folder.

Happy exploring!