Apr 142008

My friend and ex colleague DJ Collins, now at Google texted me this morning about this great piece in yesterday’s Independent. In the last two weeks I’ve written about how finance and market power are increasingly being used to quantify the value of the services that rainforests provide to Planet Earth Ltd. Now here’s an example of technology playing its role. As one of the directors of Canopy Capital said in a quote I used in a previous post, “How can it be that Google’s services are worth billions but those from all the world’s rainforests amount to nothing?” So it’s good to see Google harnessing its existing technology for the benefit of threatened tribes people in the Amazon rainforest. Most high tech firms like Google have relatively low direct environmental impacts, because they don’t manufacture anything as such and the bulk of their environmental footprint would, like Weber Shandwick’s, be largely office-based, along with some travel. By using the power of their knowledge and resources in this way, companies like Google have the potential to be net benefactors to the planet (excluding all the indirect footprints of their services, such as the shopping decisions people make by using search engines). When it comes to illegal logging, we know we need a mixture of incentives (which only the marketplace can provide) and tougher regulations (governments, stand up please). But we need to deploy the most advanced technology too, which is why Google’s help for the Surui people is both timely and welcome. If every technology company in the world devoted just a small part of its resources to tackling the planetary crisis, just think what we could achieve.

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