WWF uses AI to show Swiss landmarks in 2085

WWF uses AI to show Swiss landmarks in 2085

While we often hear about climate change and the impact it will have on cities and regions of Switzerland and the rest of the world, it can be hard to visualise what the near future has in store. Now, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released new AI-generated images of what Swiss landmarks and historical sites could look like in 2085, should governments fail to introduce sufficient climate protection policy.

Switzerland in 2085, not a pretty sight

From the snowless peaks of Swiss mountains to the Mediterranean-like, vineyard-free banks of Lake Geneva, the images paint quite a bleak picture of what Switzerland will look like in the future. The images were produced with the help of artificial intelligence that used official data and forecasts from universities in Switzerland to create an estimation of what Swiss landmarks will look like in 2085, if global temperatures increase by 2,7 degrees on average by 2100 - as is predicted to happen at the moment.

The WWF wrote in a statement that “Switzerland, as an alpine country, is particularly affected by this warming, the predicted warming for us could be almost twice as high.” This adds to a study published by the University of Oxford in July, which found that Swiss housing and cities are some of the worst-prepared for climate change and will be impacted the most.

Aletch Glacier to virtually disappear

By 2085, the Aletch Glacier is set to go from a gigantic expanse of ice to a deep valley with a lake at the bottom. This may be an optimistic depiction too, with recent data showing that Swiss glaciers lost 10 percent of their volume since 2021.

Aletsch before climate change Aletsch after climate change

Images: AI image © IMAGO, Pond5 Images, WWF Schweiz

Swiss ski resorts go from white to green 

In the ski resort and tourist haven of Zermatt, the Matterhorn will lose its characteristic snow, with the tree line and permafrost both rising by 1.000 metres. “Snow and ice will only be visible at the top. Dry, hot summers stress forests and make them more vulnerable to forest fires”, the WWF wrote.

Matterhorn before climate change Matterhorn after climate change

Images: AI image © IMAGO, Pond5 Images, WWF Schweiz

Lavaux vineyards replaced with olive trees

There’s also bad news for lovers of Swiss wine, with the Lavaux wine region in Vaud transforming from lush vineyards to something more akin to Greece. “Today's Chasselas grapes are unlikely to withstand the climate. Instead, olive trees grow that are adapted to the hotter, drier climate. The remaining vines must be extensively protected with irrigation and shading sails.” the WWF noted.

Lavaux wine region, before climate change Lavaux after climate change

Images: AI image © IMAGO, Pond5 Images, WWF Schweiz

The end of Rheinfall?

Finally, in arguably the most dramatic picture, the Rheinfall, Europe’s largest waterfall, will hardly have any water flowing through it. Experts at the WWF noted that this image also hints at the fact that shipping on the Rhine River will be near-impossible by 2085, severely impacting the economies of the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Rhinefall before climate change Rheinfall after climate change

Images: AI image © IMAGO, Pond5 Images, WWF Schweiz

WWF encourages voters to choose green-friendly candidates

The WWF explained that the alarming images are meant to “remind voters shortly before the federal elections how important an environmentally friendly parliament is.” With the polls just a few weeks away, a survey by Iazi found that climate change has dropped from the most important issue in 2019 to the sixth most important in 2023, behind the cost of health insurance and immigration among others.

In the same survey, the consultancy predicted that the Green Party would be the biggest loser on the night, while the Swiss People's Party - which generally opposes attempts by the government to enforce climate policy - will see its vote share expand.

“On October 22nd, nature needs every voice. Only if we elect as many environmentally friendly politicians as possible to parliament can we act quickly and decisively to protect our environment and therefore ourselves. I want to be able to show my grandchildren the Rheinfall”, wrote WWF campaign manager Adrian Mahlstein.

Thumb image credit: AI image © IMAGO, Pond5 Images, WWF Schweiz

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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