Google Earth to the Rescue
If you stumbled upon information that a globally renowned company had been using satellites to collect data on all of earth's landmasses for years, you'd probably assume you'd stumbled into the first act of a conspiracy thriller. Any moment now, armed thugs will be kicking in your door, igniting a titillating chase sequence through a crowded marketplace.
Bad news: This is real. But don't worry, it's just Google, the leaders of which have sworn to use their powers for good.
During the Cancun climate talks, Google and NASA combined forces to present their plan. Google Earth, once used primarily by bored office workers looking to kill the more monotonous chunks of an afternoon, is now going to be used for an environmental study. Deforestation, water shortages, and land use can all be tracked thanks to these satellite images. Scientists plan to track environmental detriment and use their new knowledge to put together a calculated response.
What's more, Google is allowing countries all over the world to view its data for the sum of $0.