I’m a reluctant activist—it’s not natural for me—but I love nature and my community. In 2005 I got a public notice of intent to harvest timber near my home. Buried in it were details that would allow cutting more than 60 percent of the largest stand of old-growth redwoods in the county. I thought, “How can I, a computer scientist, help people understand what’s at stake?”
A community group and I digitally mapped the forest and established that the plan didn’t qualify for the permit. Seeing the power of satellite imagery was eye-opening. Often environmental debates involve opposing parties throwing facts and figures back and forth. When you show people the real world, they grasp complex issues in seconds.
Google hired me because I had a vision that Google Earth could democratize information access—that anyone could annotate the planet to create impact ...
One way to help keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is to add a billion hectares of forest to the planet. A recent paper using Google Earth Engine shows where we can plant those trees.