Looking to change the world?

If you know about Google Earth, you've probably used this satellite tool at least once. If you're like most people (myself included), your first impulse was to search for your own rooftop, then to zoom out, looking around your neighborhood or town to see what you could recognize. It's amazing the the detail you can see from your own computer!

It's not surprising that at least a few people across the globe have found ingenious ways to harness this technology for good. When the first photos of Earth were taken from space in the last century, it changed the perspective of everyday people and inspired movements to protect the planet and its natural systems. What kinds of world-changing movements will this new technology inspire in the years to come?

Below is a quick round-up from the folks at Google of some cool projects that already use Google Earth technology. Can you think of any other ways that this tool might be used for good in your community or around the world? If so, you can submit your idea or story to Google and they might feature it on their website.

Project Kaisei
Environmental researchers have used Google Earth and Maps to track the movement of an 'island' of garbage twice the size of the state of Texas as it floats across the surface of the ocean. Project Kaisei researchers have experimented with converting plastic particles from this island into diesel, and hope to eventually power their research vessels with this fuel, creating fully sustainable expeditions. Check out the project's website

Save the Elephants
Founder of Save the Elephants, Dr. Douglas-Hamilton has worked to protect elephants in Mali from poachers and other threats. He now uses Google Earth to track elephants on a map and has been able to save many animals' lives, rescuing trapped elephants and helping animals suffering from the effects of local drought and climate change.

Borneo Orangutan Survival
The number of Orangutans in the wild today is decreasing at a staggering pace largely because of the destruction of their rainforest habitats. Willie Smits and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Organization have used Google Earth as a platform to enable everyone to participate in their reforestation project by viewing and adopting forest acreage in the Samboja Lestari region.

Chief Almir and the Surui
Since he first observed the illegal logging of his tribe's territory with Google Earth in an internet cafe several years ago, Chief Almir Surui has worked to raise awareness about this issue. Most recently members of the Google Earth Outreach team traveled to the Amazon to teach the Surui how mobile devices can be used to capture photos of illegal logging activity.

Appalachian Voices
Appalachian Voices, a grassroots environmental group in North Carolina, has educated millions of people, including policy-makers and legislators, about this destructive mining process by flying users over the 470 mine sites in the Appalachian mountains with Google Earth. The organization also has a layer in Google Earth dedicated to these efforts.

More information about these stories, including videos, can be found here

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Red Apes's picture
Red Apes says:

Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild because of rapid deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations.

If nothing is done to protect them, they will be extinct in just a few years.

Visit the Orangutan Outreach website to directly support the orangutan conservation and reforestation work of Willie Smits!

Orangutan Outreach
Reach out and save the orangutans!
Join our Facebook Cause

posted on Thu, 02/11/2010 - 3:18pm

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