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Google Earth Software a Great Tool for Learning about the Environment





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Google's free Google Earth software is a great tool for learning about our environment. It lets you see any place on Earth from a satellite view. And you can zoom in and see incredible detail.

If you don't have it on your computer, you can download Google Earth free here. Versions are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

To really get a better understanding of our Earth's environmental situation, you can get a close up view of a place like the tiny island of Tuvalu. If you have the software on your computer, type "Vaitupu, Tuvalu"  in the search box to go there.

Quick tip: If you're not familiar with the software, it's easy to zoom in and out. Put your mouse point in the upper right corner of the image area, where you see the compass (the circle with the "N"). A slider will appear. Just click and drag the slider to zoom in and out.

What's the problem with Tuvalu? Well, it's so low above sea level that if sea levels rise, it may be covered under water. Inhabitants may have to relocate to New Zealand. (read about Tuvalu on Wikipedia) And there are other low lying island and coastal areas that may be affected by rising sea levels.

Google has allowed web developers to make "keyhole" files that overlay the image with information. These files end in the extension "kml". Try doing a Google search for "glacier kml". You may see a kml file for Glacier National Park. If you click on the link, it will load that data (in this case from into Google Earth. You can double click on the little yellow push pins to zoom on on specific glaciers.  (Glaciers Melting In Montana Park, U.N. Is Asked To Declare Park an Endangered World Heritage site)

Here's a view zoomed in just above the "Garden Wall" in Glacier National Park. You can "fly" over the peak by using controls on your keyboard or mouse, and it's very realistic.


This is the same area, but zoomed out. These glaciers may be gone in the next few decades.


Try these interesting searches: "Gulf of Mexico" - warmer waters there seem to be increasing the intensity of hurricanes. See what states are affected.

How about this: type in  35.802n, 114.975w to the search box and see what you get. Can you figure out what it is? Scroll to the bottom of this page for the answer.

Take a peek at "Osa, Costa Rica". Can you guess what the significance of this location is? It's an area where the Nature Conservancy has protected 100,000 acres of land (and, importantly, the trees and other plant life) through their Adopt an Acre® program. learn more

And it's not just environmental issues that Google Earth is so important for. Try this. Type in "Darfur, Sudan" to go there. Then look for "Layers" to the left of the image. Click on "Global Awareness" to expand it. "Click on "USHMM: Crisis in Darfur" and you'll see additional information appear. There are layers to learn about things like Jane Goodall's Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania.

A warning about exploring your planet with Google Earth... you can spend more time than you expect exploring!












Answer: 35.802N, 114.975W is the location of Nevada Solar One, one of the largest solar power generating facilities in the world.


Aug. 2007







© 2002 - 2005 David Walls. All rights reserved.