Google Earth Heroes Project

By imontyimonty (1256710934|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

This blog entry is about Google’s celebration of Google Earth heroes, ordinary people who are using the search tool to complete extraordinary, world-changing projects. The Google Earth Heroes Project will showcase many organizations in the coming weeks who are accomplishing their noble goals with the help of this search tool.

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So Google Earth… I remember sitting around a computer with my friends when I was in high school and using the search tool to look at our homes. We thought it was so cool that we could actually zoom in to the block we lived on and take a direct look at our front door. It was mind-blowing that we were looking at our homes. We even wondered if we walked out the front door if the computer would show it, like a satellite was looking at us at that very moment. Of course, it didn’t take us long to realize that the images were years old, and that this tool was pretty awesome, but that we had no real use for it other than looking at our dream vacation spots. Well in the case of Google Earth Heroes, these people are involved with world-changing organizations that look to improve the life of humans and animals, not just look at cool images of places they wish to travel on vacation.

The five organizations highlighted in this article – Project Kaisei, Save the Elephants, Borneo Orangutan Survival Organization, Chief Almir Surui, and Appalachian Voices – are groups who aim to affect significant change in the lives of the inhabitants of the earth and look to build a sustainable environment. They advance their projects with the help of Google Earth. With Project Kaisei, they pinpoint the locations in the North Pacific Gyre they have discovered where there are enough plastic garbage items to fill the state of Texas… twice. They want to eventually use these plastics to convert it to diesel fuel, ultimately powering their vessels for fully sustainable voyages. Save the Elephants looks to meet the needs of the elephants in East Africa who are suffering through an intense drought and being killed for their ivory tusks. They want to track and predict the elephants’ migration patterns in order to identify their motivation for moving and save their lives. The Borneo Orangutan Survival has used Google Earth to inspire people to adopt pieces of land in the Samboja Lestari region by seeing the wildlife and forestation benefits in the area. They look to set-up an endowment fund to protect the land and wildlife forever, while building a sustainable economy for the local people. Chief Almir and his Surui tribe in the Amazon are being threatened by illegal loggers who destroy the rainforest in which they live. Google Earth helps their people educate others around the world about their culture and the destruction of the trees with the help of YouTube videos recorded by the natives with cell phone cameras. Appalachian Voices aims to protect the mountains that are being blown up in order to mine coal and other precious metals. This practice is causing the deaths of thousands in North Carolina from water and air pollution. Google Earth helps them show the extent to which these mountains are being destroyed, and help them gain the support of lobbyists like the Obama Administration who can stop this destruction in the region.

This Google Earth Heroes Project is sure to inspire other groups to use Google Earth and make the world a better place, which in turn will inspire more touching stories. This cycle can continue on and on until more people get the hint that if we don’t change our ways now, our earth will be uninhabitable in the future. I never knew that Google Earth could be so useful because I was unaware of the features it has adopted in the past 4 years. You can now click on certain regions and get a slew of information about the local conditions, whether it is about the vegetation and rainforest, the local people and their culture, or the landscape and its change in recent years. The “drill-down” features have expanded tremendously. You can track specific locations over time and analyze patterns and trajectories, simply amazing stuff.

This just goes to show that Google is coming up with new ways of helping people search and find information, ways in which people can use it to improve the world. The Google Earth Outreach team is also directly impacting the lives of the Surui tribe by teaching them how to record and upload pictures and video onto the Web for the sake of their land and their culture. With the reach of Google Earth, Google is literally everywhere.

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