This is a much more significant story than it might appear at first glance:

Brazil’s government said it will provide free Internet access to native Indian tribes in the Amazon in an effort to help protect the world’s biggest rain forest.

The environment and communications ministers signed an agreement Thursday with the Forest People’s Network to provide an Internet signal by satellite to 150 communities, including many reachable only by riverboat, allowing them to report illegal logging and ranching, request help and coordinate efforts to preserve the forest.

Greens do a lot of debating about the economic and political power structures that encourage resource abuse. But we — everyone — often overlook the power of simple information, or as the catch phrase goes, “making the invisible visible.”

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Want to slow illegal deforestation? Find ways of revealing, at a granular level, where it’s happening and who’s doing it. Want to reduce wasteful energy use? Find ways of revealing to average folk exactly how much they’re using, and when, and what for. Want to reduce carbon emissions? Find a way of making transparent to individuals and businesses exactly how much carbon is emitted by the creation and maintenance of the products and processes they use.

Put information in people’s hands and they’ll often do the rest themselves.

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