Google.org has unleashed new software to track and monitor deforestation, using past, present, and future satellite models to show the changes in tree cover of various regions. The idea is that by providing scientists with this visual tool for understanding data, Google can better protect the world's forests. But that's just the start. From Inhabitat:
...while the software is certainly interesting from a technological standpoint, it may also further one of the programs being hammered out at [the] UN climate conference in Copenhagen. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, or REDD, is one of the carbon curbing mechanisms currently being discussed at the conference. Under this program, richer countries would provide financial incentives for poorer nations to protect their forests. By protecting said forests, these nations would help eliminate deforestation, a major contributor of the world's carbon emissions. Google's new software provides a simple and cost-effective way to analyze global deforestation, which is one of the first steps necessary for implementing a successful REDD program.The software was created with help from Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Carlos Souza of Imazon. You can find more information at the Guardian.