Google Earth Outreach: Visualizing Water and Energy Solutions in a Warming World

December 2011

Starting in Durban, South Africa on November 28th, the COP17 (2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference) takes place. The theme for this year, is “saving tomorrow today.”, and that’s exactly what International Rivers is aiming to do with its latest Google Earth project.

This new Google Earth tour takes viewers on a trip to the world’s dam-building hotspots to visualize the effect that large dams have on the climate, river ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them. You can learn about topics such as reservoir emissions, dam safety, and adaptation while visiting real case studies in Africa, the Himalayas and the Amazon.
The tour also includes animations, which show how over time melting glaciers in the Himalayas – an effect of climate change – may lead to higher flood and safety risks for communities living downstream of dams. You’ll also plunge under water in one of Brazil’s dirtiest reservoirs, the Tucuruí Dam, to see in 3D how rotting organic material creates methane gas, which bubbles up from dam reservoirs to emit greenhouse gases in the tropics.
Download the interactive tour (KML file) or visit their website to watch the tour video to learn more. As always, you can head on over to the Google Lat Long Blog to find out even more.


Latest on training activities

Last month the Google Earth Outreach team had the opportunity to conduct a couple of trainings aimed at teaching non-profit organizations how to tell their story with Google Earth. The team first visited Brazil, where 45 participants from NGOs and the local government were trained on Imazon’s Deforestation Alert System, which is powered by Earth Engine. The system enables interested parties view deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in near real-time and lets you validate the results. Attendees also learned about Open Data Kit and Google Fusion Tables. View the training materials and workshop overview online at


Next up on the list was a trainer from Google Earth Outreach’s Train-the-Trainer network, Steven De Roy of the FIrelight Group, came to Santa Fe, NM along with a couple members of the Google Earth Outreach team to teach Navajo Nation students as well as students of the Institute of American Indian Arts about using Google Earth in film projects. This training was one of the results of the Charitable Giving Council grant made to Bioneers and the New Energy Economy almost one year ago. 


Several of the students were creating documentary films on the humanitarrian and environmental issues facing the Navajo people. “During the workshop, I couldn’t stop imagining the endless possibilities Google has supplied our youth today. I am grateful for my participation and I am very grateful to New Energy Economy for funding our trip. With this technology, it gives hope for a more prosperous future,” said Deidra Peaches, Diné, whose film “The Rocket Boy” was shown at Sundance Film Festival last year. 
“At the heart of this Google Earth/Bioneers/New Energy Economy project is a belief in cultural and creative expression as a means to affect deep and lasting social change. These young Navajo artists are opening peoples’ hearts, catalyzing critical thinking, inspiring individuals to work together, creating visions, and re-imagining life in a post fossil fuel world, said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director, New Energy Economy.


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