Google Earth First!

Environmental activists and other organizations are using Google Earth to document environmental damage and to promote their various causes.

"Following media coverage, environmental groups started contacting [Rebecca Moore at Google] to learn how they could use Google Earth for their own campaigns. At Google, Moore started setting up in-house programs to help non-profits. As demand continued to grow, the company began to realize there was an enormous opportunity to help organizations illustrate and advocate for their causes. In 2007, the company set up a new unit, Google Earth Outreach, to do just that - and tapped Moore to lead it.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington has used Google Earth to disseminate information about what some are calling genocide in Darfur. Google Earth users can fly in on villages that have been destroyed and learn more about how many people have been displaced. An east coast non-profit has successfully used the tool to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia and to generate support for a clean water bill in Congress. UNESCO has used it to call attention to endangered world heritage sites. And over the summer, Moore and a Google Earth Outreach team flew to South America to teach an indigenous Amazonian tribe how to use the tool's satellite images to spot illegal logging and mining activity on their land.

The tool can be used to envision potential solutions as well as to identify problems, Moore says. The Appalachia group, for example, used Google Earth to envision a future where mountaintops were covered with wind turbines, and to show how a renewable energy source like wind could produce far more energy over time than the finite amount of underlying coal."

Full Story: Life on Google Earth

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