Google (with Al Gore's Help) Takes Users On Guided Climate Change Tour

Google launched today a series of guided tours developed to give users a bird's eye view of the potential impact climate change could have on the world.

The search engine giant -- embracing the seeing is believing mantra -- uses its virtual globetrotting program Google Earth and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to illustrate different emissions scenarios and its impact on the world.

The first of the series called, Confronting Climate Change, is a short introductory tour guided by narrator, former vice president and climate change guru Al Gore. The effort from Google makes sense, given the company's philanthropic commitments to tackling climate change. The Mountain View, Calif.,-based company has worked on developing a gigawatt of renewable electricity that is cheaper than coal called RE<C; created its PowerMeter home-energy management software; and trying to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in vehicles through its RechargeIT project.

The launch was timely as well -- during Climate Week NYC -- and is indicative of the gathering media storm ahead of climate change talks in December.

Google's climate change tours were created in collaboration with the Danish government ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen this December. The fifteenth Conference of the Parties, or COP15, is expected to bring together ministers and leaders from 189 countries to broker a new agreement on reducing greenhouse emissions before the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The Danish government and Google have partnered up to create a Youtube COP15 channelto allow users of the online video sharing site to talk about their views on climate change through a campaign called Raise Your Voice. The videos will be broadcast on screens around the conference and rated by viewers. The top-rated contributions will be aired during the COP15 CNN/Youtube TV debate Dec. 15.