Become Google Earth-conscious

The latest Beta version of Google’s digital imagery app, available for PC and Mac, offers notable improvements, among which exciting support for HDTV, to record your “Earth fly-overs”, in case that’s how you get your kicks. Car owners, you won’t fumble for the next page of driving directions just as you come across an intersection anymore. In this new version of Google Earth you can print out your directions in a turn by turn layout. But the real improvement comes in the form of various overlays to add to the Google Earth experience. Whether you’re environmentally-conscious or a real traveler you’ll take a real liking to these.

Thanks to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and in a real effort of raising public awareness, “extreme environmental degradation” zones around the globe have been mapped out. I checked out a digital imagery comparison of Mexico City from 1973 to 1999. It’s impressive to see how much the city has sprawled out. The Discovery Networks World Tour is great for getting information on your future travel destinations. I watched videos on the Amalfi Coast in Italy and jotted down a few places that I might check out. National Park Service information is particularly useful if you decide to go trekking, say in Yosemite National Park and want to find out what trails you can take. The Jane Goodall Institute overlay will probably attract wildlife lovers. It picks out chimpanzee preserves around the world. If you’re just curious in general, the National Geographic overlay should satisfy your curiosity with hundreds of locations and landmarks pinpointed on the globe. But my favorite function is the Turn Here overlay because you can view short videos of cool spots in many cities. Anybody can submit a video to Google Earth thus sharing what’s cool with the rest of the world.

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