Eunice Newton Foote was the first woman to publish in a physics journal. Her article, titled “Circumstances Affecting the Heat of Sun’s Rays,” laid the foundation for the discovery of the greenhouse effect. This groundbreaking paper, written more than 150 years ago, drew a direct link between carbon dioxide and the warming of our climate, and helped define climate science as we know it. Today, on her 204th birthday, we’re honoring her achievements with a Doodle on the Google homepage.
We’re also celebrating the work of six women walking in Eunice’s footsteps and making important contributions to our understanding of climate change. With funding and support from Google.org, these innovators are working to educate the public, building solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and advocating for policies that will help protect our planet.
1. Dr. Anna Liljedahl
Dr. Anna Liljedahl resides in Homer, Alaska, where she researches the effects of climate change on the storage and movement of water in the Arctic ecosystem. Through projects like Permafrost Discovery Gateway, Anna aims to make information from big data more accessible to scientists and communities directly impacted by climate change. She’s currently an associate scientist at Woodwell Climate Research Center, and today we announced a $5 million grant and Fellowship from Google.org to help them use AI to more accurately and frequently track Arctic permafrost thaw. “This funding from Google.org will help us unlock completely new technological capabilities in how we do science and, ultimately, what science itself can do,” Anna shares. “I’m not sure that Eunice Newton Foote could have imagined what technology would look like today, but I do think she would have been proud to see how many women are now leading the way in protecting our planet through climate science and exploration.”
2. Clara Rowe
Garnering the title of a Google.org Leader to Watch in 2022 is just one of Clara Rowe’s many claims to well-earned fame in climate science. Since 2021, she’s served as the first CEO of Restor, an open-source platform supported by Google.org that connects global restoration and conservation efforts to the data, funding and knowledge they need to succeed and scale. Restor is now home to 130,000 restoration sites and counting, shining a bright light on efforts happening worldwide to restore and conserve nature. “The restoration of nature has incredible potential for climate, biodiversity and people,” says Clara. “In order to unlock that potential, you really need to bring together everyone involved in that work, ensure that more people can get involved and that we have a transparent view of what's happening where. And we're building a digital hub to make that possible.”
3. Dr. Alysia Garmulewicz and 4. Liz Corbin
What if, rather than using plastics and other non-biodegradable materials that will end up in landfills, we could use regenerative materials — just like nature has for billions of years? That’s just what Dr. Alysia Garmulewicz and Liz Corbin had in mind. As co-founders and co-CEOs of Materiom, Garmulewicz and Corbin created an open-source “recipe book'' with Google.org’s support to help manufacturers replace unsustainable materials with biodegradable alternatives. For instance, did you know you can make “leather” out of banana peels? Or replace clear plastic with seaweed? Materiom’s community has grown to include more than 6,000 researchers, industrial designers and manufacturers. Their goal: to make it easier for everyone to produce regenerative and sustainable materials, and ultimately transform the materials market.
5. Heidi Binko
Heidi Binko has long supported the green energy movement by working with coal communities, both in the U.S. and internationally. Concerned about those whose livelihoods depend on coal production, she set out to solve the problem from an economic angle. In 2015, she co-founded the Just Transition Fund. With support from Google.org, the Just Transition Fund is helping rural U.S. communities that previously relied on coal transition to more sustainable sources of income as plants and mines close. “We will only build broad public support for climate solutions if we can ensure that the economic benefits of a green economy are equitably shared,” Heidi says.
6. Angie Fyfe
Angie Fyfe’s work in sustainability began in 2003, when she successfully managed the construction of the first-ever LEED-certified state government-owned building. As Executive Director of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, Fyfe is dedicated to helping U.S. local governments address climate change and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities. As part of our commitment to help cities and local governments reduce carbon emissions, Google.org supported the creation of ICLEI's Action Fund, which helps civic organizations use data to reduce their carbon emissions. Besides supporting the Fund’s new projects, Fyfe has played a key role in doubling the size of ICLEI's network over the past nine years. Her theory of change? “Standards, protocols and data enable good policy development, which leads to action and impact.”