Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Google is expected to announce a drastic change to their popular Google Maps application sometime within the next few months. To date, Google Maps has been a very valuable online resource which has brought mapping to the masses; whether it to be to find a local mexican restaurant in a new city, check for traffic updates on your commute to work, or to find the back roads to an off the beaten path camping site.
Besides it's resourcefulness, the best part of the application so far is that it has been free. Unfortunately, that is about to change. However, the reasoning behind the change is for a very good cause.
Google has always been an environmentally sensitive company and has decided to take it's efforts to the next level by charging Google Map users a minimal fee for each search in order to combat global warming.
An estimated ninety-five percent of the collected fees will be used to purchase carbon offsets. Once the change takes place, new procedures will require users to create an account and purchase advance "G-Map Enviro Credits" (G-Map EC's) through Google Checkout in increments of $20 US.
A preliminary fee schedule obtained by Find GIS shows that charges will be assessed for each location/address search based upon the existing location of a user's IP address versus the physical address of their destination.
The G-Map EC's correlate to the following fees within the U.S.
Searches within your own zip code: $0.02
Searches outside of your own zip code, but within your own county: $0.05
Searches outside of your own county, but within your own state: $0.10
Out of state searches: $0.15
International searches: $0.25
Dr. Muntha P. Rilprimero, a world renowned expert on carbon offsets, is very optimistic about Google's idea and appreciates their effort to set the standard in the world's fight against global warming. He has calculated out that the initiative could raise a staggering $826 million in it's first year alone.
"Carbon offsets currently cost anywhere from $4 - $8 per metric ton, at this rate and with the help of such carbon offset organizations as e-BlueHorizons and Carbonfund.org we may be able to reverse the effects of global warming within 10 - 15 years," stated Dr. Rilprimero.
Rilprimero does expect somewhat of a backlash by Google Maps users whom have been accustomed to free searches and has expressed that, "people in general need to be more environmentally sensitive in their everyday lives, and this is a small way each of us can give back as individuals."
He has also suggested that people get behind the program and show support for Google's innovative idea to combat global warming. One such way is to send an email to Google to show your support of the program. They would also appreciate any further ideas or feedback that could expand upon the program idea.
Please address your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header of: "G-Map EC Program".
The G-Map EC idea was initially conceived by a few employees whom work within Google's Earth Outreach division.
For further details on Google Earth Outreach please watch the YouTube presentation from last year's conference.