Google’s Impossibly Cool Global Forest Watch Gives You A Front Seat To Tree Murders

This will do for environmentalism what Google Earth did for spying.
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If a tree falls in the forest, thanks to Google, everyone will hear it now–or at least watch it happen in near real-time from their computer screens. Global Forest Watch is an anxiety-inducing new website that allows you to monitor logging and burning of the world’s forests using images from NASA satellites. The Lorax would be proud.

The new site was launched February 20th, in a collaboration with World Resources Institute and more than 40 other partners. Google said in their press release:

“By the time we find out about deforestation, it’s usually too late to take action. Scientists have been studying forests for centuries, chronicling the vital importance of these ecosystems for human society. But most of us still lack timely and reliable information about where, when, and why forests are disappearing. This is about to change with the launch of Global Forest Watch.”

The 25 million dollar project will provide consumers and armchair environmentalists with constant access to a map of what’s happening in the world’s forest, in almost real time.

Amy Moas, a Senior Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace, told International Business Times that this cutting-edge (pun intended) visual aid will hopefully give people a greater understanding of the magnitude of deforestation. “I think that any time you take what’s happening on the ground and you put it into a useful tool that everyday people can use, it can make a huge difference in people’s understanding of what’s happening. In principle, it could be a part of the solution.”

Global Forest Watch will also allow consumers to monitor company’s environmental practices. Wilmar International, the world’s largest supplier of palm oil, has pledged to stop adopt a “zero burning” policy–and now you can play Captain Planet and personally ensure they keep their promise.

Nigel Sizer of the World Resources Institute also said to IBT, “You can see in real time whether the supplier is doing what they promised. The good guys can demonstrate that they’re in compliance and the bad guys are clear for everyone to see. There’s nowhere they can hide.”

If monitoring good guys and bad guys every time you log onto your computer seems like an ulcer-inducing amount of responsibility, I’m with you there. Obviously watching House of Cards is a little more relaxing than witnessing the rapid destruction of our national resources, but this technology is still insanely cool.

Warning: to avoid massive guilt attacks and environmental panic, don’t use it while eating off of disposable dishes and drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup. That’s my bad, trees.

(via Boing Boing and International Business Times, images via Global Forest Watch)


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