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Google's Amazon River Street View Project

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the turn-right-at-the-capybara dept.

Google 45

Thanks to Google and the Foundation for a Sustainable Amazon (FAS), your days of paddling up and down the Amazon basin looking for a fishing camp are over. Google is expanding its Street View service to cover a 30-mile section of the Rio Negro River tributary from Manaus to Terra Preta. FAS project leader Gabriel Ribenboim said, "It is very important to show the world not only the environment and the way of life of the traditional population, but to sensitize the world to the challenges of climate change, deforestation and combating poverty."

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45 comments

Easy! (2)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37167882)

This means the Google is entering deeper and deeper into Amazon.

Climate Change (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37169094)

"Climate Change" has become the "For the Children" phrase of our time.

It is now the default reason for doing anything.

Re:Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37170556)

Must...suppress...the truth!

Use mods points at will!

Needs more search options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37167892)

"Candiru-free swimming LOC: Amazon"

Your canal next? (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37167920)

I look forward to the day when the floating googlemobiles have been all round the canal system of England and I can work my way up Foxton staircase (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxton_Locks) without leaving my desk.

Re:Your canal next? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37167968)

I was actually a little bit surprised that they haven't done Street View of Venice's canals.

Re:Your canal next? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168050)

They just need to develop Googlettos!

Re:Your canal next? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37171820)

I think you mean Googondolas.

Re:Your canal next? (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37173292)

Googondola? Sounds like a type of cheese.

Re:Your canal next? (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37174034)

It does, doesn't it?

But for the woosh worthy I was just combining "Goo" with "gondola" which is what they call the boats in Venice.

Re:Your canal next? (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37174052)

I guess it depends which syllable you stress. One you might find in a deli, the other's a type of sticky boat. Your choice...

Re:Your canal next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37169704)

Turns out their little cars can't swim very well. Add some mobsters and a soundtrack and I might watch the movie, though...

Re:Your canal next? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168272)

I'd kind of like to see the backwaters of Kerala done in street view. There are lots of photos individual people have uploaded to Panoramio, but the street view interface is really nice for navigation between pictures.

0.01 % done ! (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168022)

30 miles down, 30,000+ miles to go. (The Amazon is 4000 miles long, but is divided into many tributaries, the total length of all the tributaries is probably a lot longer than that, but I think that is a safe lower bound.)

Re:0.01 % done ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37168096)

Wow, way to fail at math. 30/30000 = .001 or .1%.

Re:0.01 % done ! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168386)

There will be ten times as many unnavigable rivulets. So there may be only 30,000 miles to go, and 30,000 miles would still only be 10% done.

Why do geeks always try to over-simplify? Not everything is a My First Puzzle Book puzzle.

Re:0.01 % done ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37168964)

I don't know, the same reason egotistical idiots don't just fess up that they made a math error?

Re:0.01 % done ! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37169000)

Why would OP need to "fess up"? If it was an error, it's trivial - the sort only the class clown corrects when the lecturer makes. If it was a way of representing the complexity of the problem, then the OP's only mistake was speaking to a simple audience.

Is this fair? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168228)

How can an 'Uncontacted' Amazon tribe post their take down notice?
"You can see right into my hut from the river" said one.
"This is an invasion of our privacy and youve also taken my soul with youre evil box of tricks. You said do no evil! but you have." said another.
These peoples remain 'uncontacted' due to their poor punctuation and grammar.

New age of automated mapping & attack drones. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37169330)

I wouldn't be surprised if only the terrorists refused anyone from cataloguing/mapping their properties into Google CIA. Bombs and cruise missiles will soon update the landscape on their final approach, and if there were any politicial or financing issues then the dispute will be resolved in a fassion through an accreditted Google Auctions manner with PayPal.

Anonymouse realy needs to shut down and tamper all these Google intelligence-gathering missions, BECAUSE SOMETHING STINKS OF DEBTOR-nations being surveyed to introduce jurisdictional issues to stifle feuditories like how the Catholic Church continually replaces "Deutchland" with captioning to "Germany" in all the old documentaries conductied in foreign languages to the observers.

Eventually this could be used by infiltraitors to refer to the continent of the States of America as the United States, Korea and Taiwan become "China garbage dump", California becomes Aztlan, Canaan becomes State of Israel instead of Kikeland, and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now Assgassistan. Not saying I agree with the name of flags, but Google is helping the CIA to change the global landscape by their maps and fieldguides, and combined with the NSA with automated warfare drones then they are their own army equally capable to US Army and Special Forces.

DON'T forget Google Checkout. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37169550)

Google is an escrow house now, because they have bean counters right? PayPal isn't a bank or is it, like how Google isn't a suvbersive entity right?

Someday...
"According to federal and State laws, send X-X Amero through Google Credit to remove the crosshairs from your dog violating pet ownership in the city, and if you don't pay now then we'll post a division of your land onto Ebay that will likely be bought by China Bank of Reconstruction. A lunar accounting console will land on your doorstep, since the traveling Census agent catalogued your premises dimensions despite your non-voting record in our MYLIFE.COM database."

Re:Is this fair? (1)

dafradu (868234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37169868)

There is no uncontacted tribe living close to a major tributary of the river. You'd have to hike for days, maybe weeks to find an indian in Brazil that has had little contact with the "white man".

Re:Is this fair? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37176026)

Ah, what you've done there is missed the bit about the 'Uncontacted' tribe being able to speak English and moan about privacy and being able to see into a Hut.

Re:Is this fair? (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 2 years ago | (#37170814)

How can an 'Uncontacted' Amazon tribe post their take down notice?

Using something pointy? I don't think they'll post a notice so much as take down the boat.

Lawsuit! (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168290)

Google's leaving the door open for indigenous lawyers to sue over certain concerns:

Indigenous Lawyer: Witchdoctor N'(click)'toba, what happened to you after the Google boat photographed you?

Witchdoctor N'(click)'toba: Well, I was in the middle of a particularly difficult fertility spell when the boat came by and stole my soul. The spell failed and the sacrifice was rejected by our gods.

Indigenous Lawyer: Can you identify your soul in this courtroom?

Witchdoctor N'(click)'toba: Yes, it's in the third camera from the right.

Jury of peers: Google guilty!

Judge: Google shall render forth Witchdoctor N'(click)'toba's soul, 12 chickens, 2 pigs, and a cow to the plaintiff. Further punitive damage of 4 wives will also be awarded.

Overly-nagged Google Techie in back of courtroom: Take my wife... PLEASE!

Rio Negro River (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37168350)

Was the Rio Negro River named by the Department of Redundancy Department?

Re:Rio Negro River (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37168572)

Was the Rio Negro River named by the Department of Redundancy Department?

It was done by the, not horribly literate, NegroAgua mercs Google hired to shut the villagers up about the cameras.

OT: Deforestation? (1)

Zinho (17895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37169098)

OK, time to burn some karma...

I lived in Brazil for 5 years, and the Brazilians I talked to didn't consider deforestation to be a problem. In fact, the story I'd consistently hear from them is that much of the deforestation is to support grazing for cattle, and that the same acres end up burned year after year because the forest takes back the grasslands as fast as it's burned. They perceive the Amazon as being largely uninhabitable and untameable, taking back roads and farms faster than they can be built. It's considered a national tragedy that so much land in their country cannot be used for farms, homes, roads, or ranches.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conservation and habitat preservation; my been-there/done-that creds include the t-shirt from the Eco '92 conference in Rio. I simply don't see why the environmentalists who so carefully catalog deforestation [mongabay.com] can't be bothered to simultaneously chart forest re-growth. It should be simple to overlay forest boundaries on a map of Brazil and show the recession of the forest over time; 232,000 square miles (slightly smaller than the state of Texas) is a dramatic loss, and a good graphic showing where it has happened would be media gold - strong, clear evidence supporting the damage to the ecosystem. The fact that I've never seen such a map supports, in my mind, the Brazilians' assertion that it's not really a problem.

Seriously, if someone can disabuse me of this notion I'd appreciate it. I've taken a bunch of heat over the years because, as a self-indentified conservationist, I haven't bought into the "ZOMG BURNING TREEZ IS THE SUXXORZ!!!ONE!!" philosophy that my environmentalist friends take regarding the Amazon. Can there seriously be no balance found between sustaining the needs of the people and the preservation of our ecology? Because telling that to the people who feel like they're already on the losing side of the battle is just kicking them when they're down.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#37170152)

Maybe, the Brazilians you talked to didn't know what they were talking about, and the regrowth isn't at all the same as virgin rainforest?

Laurance fears that Wright is downplaying the destruction of virgin rainforest. "The conditions in the small country of Panama cannot be generalized. In the Amazon, cattle ranchers and the agricultural industry are destroying the jungle on a large scale. The undergrowth that thrives in cleared areas is a caricature of a forest."

...

The Sao Paulo agronomist is studying secondary vegetation throughout the entire Brazilian Amazon region. Using satellite images, he selected 26 locations that were cleared years ago and eventually became overgrown with new vegetation. Then he spent two months driving from one location to the next. His conclusion? "Twenty percent of the deforested areas are recovering."

Nevertheless, Almeida is not issuing a general all-clear signal for the rainforest. "Within no more than five years, most of the secondary forests will be burned down or cut down again," he says. Cattle ranchers use the fallow fields as pasture, while farmers plant soybeans or cereal crops.

Once the virgin rainforest is cut down, it might not be tracked any longer as virgin rainforest, even if it grows back. However, most of what grows back is being burnt again every few years. Meanwhile, other people (i.e. not the ones you talked to) are burning additional virgin forest, resulting in a huge net loss.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

Zinho (17895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37171702)

Maybe, the Brazilians you talked to didn't know what they were talking about, and the regrowth isn't at all the same as virgin rainforest?

The undergrowth that thrives in cleared areas is a caricature of a forest." ... "Twenty percent of the deforested areas are recovering."

Nevertheless, Almeida is not issuing a general all-clear signal for the rainforest. "Within no more than five years, most of the secondary forests will be burned down or cut down again," he says. Cattle ranchers use the fallow fields as pasture, while farmers plant soybeans or cereal crops.

Once the virgin rainforest is cut down, it might not be tracked any longer as virgin rainforest, even if it grows back. However, most of what grows back is being burnt again every few years. Meanwhile, other people (i.e. not the ones you talked to) are burning additional virgin forest, resulting in a huge net loss.

I think, perhaps, they did. If I'm reading your pasted quote properly, the ecologist speaking (Lawrence?) states that 20% of the cleared areas could be considered "forest" again by his standards. That's a total, debilitating loss for the rancher who wanted to use it for his cattle. Even the "caricature of a forest" Lawrence mentioned first is likely unusable for grazing. It may not be old-growth, virgin forest any longer, but Nature has certainly taken it back from Man. The only disparity I see between the farmer's perspective and the Naturalist's is the definition of "forest". Your quote, in fact, reads like a Naturalist agreeing with the layman's assessment I heard when I was there.

That being said, and granting to you the point that unnecessary clearing of "virgin forest" is wasteful, why is the use of forest land for ranching or farming per se intolerable? Putting it another way, why is it OK for a Kansas farmer to clear his property for planting soybeans but it's not OK if the farmer lives in Manaus? Is the Amazon basin so sacrosanct that it's a sin against Gaia for humans to live there? This attitude among environmentalists is insulting to the dignity of the Brazilian people, and coming from fellow Americans hypocritical at best. Citizens of the United States have little right to tell Brazilian farmers to starve or find other work based solely on gut-instinct protectionism for a specific forest.

Sorry if I'm coming across a bit harsh, but your response resonated with the "ZOMG BURNING TREEZ IS THE SUXXORZ!!!ONE!!" tuning fork; not helpful.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#37179236)

The regrown land is in no way biologically diverse, and thus in now way represents a healthy rainforest. And even if 20% of what is burned in any given year has grown back within 10 years, that still means 80% of what is burned in any given year either never grows back, or grows back and is burned again and again.

The Amazon basin is so sacrosanct because without it we're not sure the planet will produce enough oxygen to sustain current levels of animal life. That's why it's more important than the Brazilian people.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

Zinho (17895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182646)

The Amazon basin is so sacrosanct because without it we're not sure the planet will produce enough oxygen to sustain current levels of animal life. That's why it's more important than the Brazilian people.

You frighten me. I'm trying to find a way to not interpret what you just said as a blatant priority of trees over Human life, but I'm failing. I hope you don't mean that you'd rather that a random Brazilian die of starvation in squalor than to have a single Amazonian tree chopped down; unfortunately, I've met too many militant environmentalists to rule that out.

What's worse is that your justification is based on a misunderstanding of the oxygen cycle. I've been led to believe that old-growth forests are both Carbon and Oxygen neutral; the decomposition of dead plant matter uses up about the same amount of oxygen as is released via photosynthesis. If that's true then your fear of suffocation is unfounded and your hostility towards the Brazilians sorely misplaced.

The regrown land is in no way biologically diverse, and thus in now way represents a healthy rainforest. And even if 20% of what is burned in any given year has grown back within 10 years, that still means 80% of what is burned in any given year either never grows back, or grows back and is burned again and again.

Again, the people want to use that land for homes or crops don't want the forest re-taking their and fields; that land has been re-purposed for Human use, and the re-growth there is an expensive problem for residents. My original complaint was that my environmentalist friends take offense at annual fires that can be seen from space, but don't seem to care that those fires are in the same locations year-to-year. I see no problem with that situation; the Brazilians are entitled to build homes to live in and grow food to eat, just like I am. They are also responsible for maintaining sufficient wildlife/Nature preserves to ensure continued biodiversity. There is a balance to be struck there, and they're working on it. It's unreasonable, however to categorically deny them the use of their own land based on your fantastic/romantic/emotional attachment to a forest you've probably never visited.

I can tell that you and I aren't going to find common ground on this topic. In fact, I'm beginning to suspect that continuing the conversation will just result in an endless cycle of trolling each other.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

dafradu (868234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37170184)

There is no way to the forest to recover as fast as men can destroy it. Check what just 2 tractors can do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDK8qY0EKoo [youtube.com]

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

Zinho (17895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37175002)

Nice video. Run the caption through Google translate and you'll see that the person posting the video is the driver. He's making every effort to preserve the ecology around the road he's preparing land for, and diverting the road to protect endangered trees. He's not burning the cut land, either. In other words, he's doing it right, and for the right reasons: providing a route for transportation in the region and keeping Human needs balanced with conservation of Nature.

Yes, it's a fast operation, but it's not cheap - that tractor costs a lot more than manual laborers with machetes and a torch. Maintaining that road is going to have ongoing costs, too, and the area is probably lucky to even be getting that one road. Without a public benefit no such project would be started, it's too expensive.

There is no way to the forest to recover as fast as men can destroy it.

Sure, we can keep it up for long enough to build a road, or carve out a farm. But Nature is patient, and the Brazilians' goal isn't to simply pave the entire forest [thepavedearth.com] out of spite. Unfortunately, the farmers, ranchers, and road builders in the Amazon have to annually re-clear the same land they plant on, as the forest is constantly encroaching on their fields, pastures, and roadways. It's a constant, expensive, and difficult battle to keep the land clear for Human use.

I think the reason that there aren't deforestation progress maps in circulation (like I suggested there should be in my original post) is that they'd look like towns being built, farms being planted, and roads being paved to connect communities and bring crops to market. It's easy to knee-jerk and complain about the virgin forest being cut; but it's a lot harder to tell an entire nation that they should restrict population growth, stop growing their economy, and stop producing food because their own land is too valuable for them to use. Or better yet, let them know that you don't trust them to manage their natural resources wisely. <sarcasm>That'll go over well.<\sarcasm>

tl; dr: Sure, we can be very destructive when there's a reason for it. But the people who live there tell me that even with these methods in use it's still getting too expensive to maintain. They're fighting to have food to eat and a place to live. Suggesting that they simply stop trying because we love their land too much is not just naive, it's insulting.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

praedictus (61731) | more than 2 years ago | (#37170204)

Ive seen some pretty extensive deforestation going on in Pará, mostly spreading out from the Altamira-Santarem-Itaituba axis going south -as well as cattle the flat lands here are being cleared for soya production. The Xinguara-São Felix axis (and continuing on into the Terra do Meio on the other side - thats all very recent) would be cattle ranching. Also along the BR 163 further west and extending along the Trans-Garimpeiro. Btw the narrow red barren areas on the satellite maps are iron deposits on top of plateaus, those are naturally occuring. Maraba-Parauapebas had been cleared for the most part when I first visited in 1998, the funny thing is the areas being mined are where the forest has been mostly preserved - Vale is pretty strict about controlling access, unlike the local government.

Re:OT: Deforestation? (1)

Zinho (17895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37174688)

Thanks, that was useful. It gives me somewhere specific to look. Do you by any chance know where I can look for older pictures of the area? I'd like to compare to current overhead photos.

Fascinating area... (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37169530)

When I lived in Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s I had a chance to fly into Manaus on an old USAF C-54 and share expenses on a fishing trip into the Amazon and Rio Negro. It was a high point of my life. The area was fascinating in its lush vegetation, vast wetlands, and river traffic. The people - and especially the children - were wonderful. Six of us on an old Chris Craft (type) cabin cruiser plus some local fishing guides with food and drink included for just a couple hundred bucks apiece. It sure beat touring the opera house.

I'll be interested in seeing how much has changed.

30 miles of water? They didn't even do Venice, IT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37175586)

Amazon? They should start with something smaller and more realistic on water. Did you know there is still no Google street view (canal view?) for the historic Venice in Italy, a city famous the many people getting lost there? (Not just the yearly millions of tourists, but also the locals sometimes). The whole place is tiny, max. 45 mins across on foot accross, but a very tigh maze of narrow foot passes and winding canals.

If anything, probably the cost put off Google from doing the Serenissima Street View project so far. The multi-cam system would need to be hand-carted over much of the land course, with many small non-accessibility bridges in between. A significant part of the canal system is closed to motorboats and the going rate for a gondola ride per hour is very steep.

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