Google Earth has been applied in multiple fields, such as Humanitarianism and Education.
There are two forms of humanitarianism: short-term and long-term.
In short term humanitarian intervention involves disaster response. Google Earth has been used to quickly gather and display images of sites damaged by natural disasters within a couple of days. Some prominent examples include Hurricane Katrina and Haiti. Google Earth has, without question, been very effective with short term intervention.
However, with long-term intervention, whether Google Earth is effective does not have a clear answer. Overall, Google Earth’s ability to display every location in the world, plus its ability to incorporate information layers into the interface, has been applied for humanitarian causes. One prominent example is Crisis in Darfur formed by the United States Holocaust Museum. This information layer integrates information of destroyed villages and stories of victims and survivors with regions in Darfur. Although there has been great public response, there are issues concerning whether such information layers are indeed having an impact on the political situation. For example, violence and genocide in Darfur still occurs despite the existence of Crisis in Darfur.
Because of Google Earth is easy to use, is capable of representing 3D imagery, and is open for people to create information layers, Google Earth is a powerful tool for education (Tuttle, Anderson, & Huff, 2008, p. 1488). There are multiple KMLs that discuss varying effects of climate change and future changes in the Earth due to climate change. In addition to science, there are also KMLs for literature education. With Google Lit Trips, you can download a KML that keeps track of the setting and setting changes that occur throughout a particular novel. The possibilities are endless. Miscellaneous ones are seen in exhibits. The Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences has an exhibit that shows nighttime lights around the world (Tuttle et. al, 2008, p. 1490).
http://earth.google.com/outreach/cs_darfur.html (Article about Crisis in Darfur)
http://www.eyesondarfur.org/ (Website about Eyes on Darfur by Amnesty International)
http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2010/01/imagery_layer_for_haiti_earthquake.html (Information about Haiti Earthquake, shows some imagery)
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=15395&oldid=13076 (Website to download KML showing imagery)
Tuttle, B. T., Anderson, S., and Huff, R. (2008). Virtual globes: An Overview of their history, uses, and future challenges. Geography Compass 2(5), 1478-1505.
http://sitescontent.google.com/google-earth-for-educators/classroom-resources/lesson-plan-library/impact-of-climate-change (multiple KMLs that provide different information about climate change)
http://www.googlelittrips.com/GoogleLit/Home.html (website providing Lit Trips for different novels).