We’ve written before  about a climate-related effort in developing countries known as REDD  – or Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation. So one of the outcomes during last month’s U.N. climate conference  that I found particularly interesting was an announcement from Google.org . During the conference in Copenhagen, the search giant's philanthropic arm introduced the prototype for an online application that will allow monitoring of forests around the planet.
Apparently, some believed that the overall topic of REDD may have been one of the few bright spots  during the two-week conference. To me, it seems like this forthcoming online monitoring tool is no exception – particularly because Google products are often innovative, easy to use and reliable.
The announcement generated quite bit of media buzz, and Google.org’s press release  has a nice explanation of why the online application, likely available to the public some time this year, might be so significant:
Traditional forest monitoring is complex and expensive, requiring access to large amounts of satellite data, lots of hard drives to hold the data, lots of computers to process the data, and lots of time while you wait for various computations to finish. … Google supplies data, storage, and computing muscle. As a result, you can visualize forest change in fractions of a second over the web, instead of the minutes or hours that traditional offline systems require for such analysis.
- Online mapping tool gives view of forests in developing countries 
- Deforestation in Sumatra, Indonesia – mapping the "thwacking" 
- New Google feature lets users quickly search World Bank development data