A satellite image taken by Google Earth offers this telling visualization of our impact on the planet—a giant green boot print on a snowy field. The image is part of a campaign by 350.org to create art large enough to be seen from space, an effort to draw attention to the scope of the climate challenge. The piece, organized by the Vancouver Public Space Network, was created by more than 100 people who gathered in sub-zero temperatures early one morning holding aloft green umbrellas.
According to event organizer Jaspal Marwah, the image, a reference to the concept of the Ecological Footprint conceived in Vancouver by William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, points to humanity’s oversized resource demand. The Footprint of the average Canadian is 7 global hectares, an amount that would require the resources of almost 4 Earths if everyone lived that way. But the artists said they hoped the image, etched in green and set on a green background, would also suggest another idea: that we can lighten our tread and make our impact less noticeable.