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This is a joint posting with Dan Hammer.
The climate negotiations in Copenhagen have galvanized the climate evangelists and skeptics alike; the talks, some say, are merely a front to assuage the general public, and will only divert attention from the scientific imperative to curb global carbon emissions. But one benefit of the talks has already been realized: They have catalyzed a flurry of activity, especially in the domain of monitoring and evaluation. Last week in Copenhagen, Google.org announced that it will provide free access to raw satellite imagery to facilitate global monitoring of deforestation, which may account for 15% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Google.org has partnered with two leading forest scientists to host their image-parsing algorithms online, so that experts in developing countries can produce more accurate maps of forest cover loss from satellite images.
For those interested in the ongoing climate change debate, I urge you to look at the recently-released report (and the Roll Call op-ed) from the bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests (full disclosure: I sat on this commission).