Friday, July 25, 2008

The Google and the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest that is, not the shopping website. And, yes, Google's long reach stretches even there:
Last month, a group of Googlers traveled to Brazil, to conduct our first-ever project in the Amazon. Organized by our Google Earth Outreach team, we went at the special invitation of Amazon Chief Almir Naramayoga Surui, who'd invited us down to train his people on using Google Earth, YouTube, blogs and other Internet tools in order to preserve their history and culture, protect their rainforest, and create a sustainable future for their tribe.

This projects goal's are ambitious, but it seems to have some serious potential--especially given the resources Google is able to throw at such problems:
We learned from Chief Almir that just as the Amazon rainforest is disappearing at an alarming rate, so too are the indigenous peoples who live there. This loss of biological and cultural diversity, of natural resources, habitats and human beings, has profound consequences both locally and globally. Al Gore has called the Amazon rainforest "the lungs of the planet" for the vital role it plays in consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for all of us to breathe. Chief Almir explained that his tribe had already begun replanting thousands of hectares of their forest which had been illegally logged by outsiders. He hopes that through this project, they will be able to participate in the emerging carbon offset marketplace. And he wants to use Google Earth, YouTube and blogs to give the world a virtual tour of these projects, to raise awareness, and educate other tribes in how to do the same thing.

Some people might argue that Google's involvement in the Amazon will actually result in more harm than good, but I find such an outcome highly implausible.

This tribe reached out to Google. They wanted this technology because they believe it will help them get their message out the rest of the world. And if they can do that, they have a much better chance of preserving their forest than they would merely working on their own or even just with others in Brazil. Therefore, I'm certain this project's effects, regardless of their size, will be decidedly positive.

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