In collaboration with the Danish government and others, Google is launching a series of Google Earth layers and tours to allow you to explore the potential impacts of climate change on our planet and possible solutions. Last week a set of tours, narrated by Al Gore, gave an idea of what the world might look like in 2050 if we do nothing to stop global warming. This week, Google launches another set of climate change tours, including one by Greenpeace telling a success story about what can happen when we take action for solutions today: the moratorium on new soya plantations in the Amazon.
The story of the soya moratorium in Brazil is a tale of one small but significant step toward saving the Amazon and, with it, our planet's climate. Tropical deforestation accounts for up to a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s airplanes, trains and cars. It has led Brazil to become the world’s fourth worst climate polluter and means that runaway climate change cannot be averted unless deforestation is stopped.
That's why we took action in 2006 to try and stop one of the biggest drivers of Amazon deforestation in Brazil: the clearing of rainforest to make way for more and more soya plantations to feed Europe's growing hunger for fast food. It's a tale that involves Greenpeace researchers, unlikely corporate bedfellows, action under the canopy and beneath the golden arches of McDonalds, and you, our supporters, who helped build consumer pressure that could not be stopped. But watch the tour in Google Earth if you have it, or here on YouTube:
You turn the (Google) Earth
Whether you want to view the Canadian tar sands as an angel would see them -- an oily, blackened, treeless scar upon the planet's face -- or take an eagle-eye view of the magnificent forests they are destroying, Google Earth is a great tool for bearing witness both to our planet's natural majesty and the marks humanity has made.
Last year, we launched a Global Awareness layer in partnership with Google which bundles images, video, and information about saving our planet's forests, stopping climate change, and protecting our oceans into every copy of Google Earth. (What's that? You're a Google Earthling and you've never seen it? Turn on your sidebar with Ctrl-Alt-B, then click on Layers > Global Awareness > Greenpeace)
Google has also launched a YouTube channel called "Raise your Voice" dedicated to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December, where you can join celebrities and activists in sending your own video message to the world leaders that will gather there.
The videos will be broadcast on screens around the conference in December.
But how many world leaders will be there to see those messages?
So far, only Gordon Brown (UK), Donald Tusk (Poland) and Jan Peter Balkenende (the Netherlands) have even committed to go to the summit.