Earthlings Observing Earth
Interestingly, the summit, part of the European Commission's Earth & Space Week, was "timed to coincide with the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol." And while the U.S. loudly nixed Kyoto, the federal government is so excited about GEOSS it can hardly contain itself. "By linking existing Earth observing systems, GEOSS will aid in tracking environmental changes throughout the world and provide the science on which sound decision-making must be built," said a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokesperson. And, according to NOAA, "over the next decade, a global Earth Observation System of Systems will revolutionize the understanding of the Earth and how it works."
NO, GEOSS is not legally binding. As the EC put it in a release, "GEOSS will provide the overall conceptual and organizational framework for global Earth observation to meet user needs. GEOSS will be a “system of systems”, existing and future, supplementing but not supplanting each system’s own mandates and governance arrangements."
The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations posts some interesting GEOSS docs, as does the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations.
And speaking of observing Earth, NOAA, which has been monitoring the Earth's environment for more than 30 years, offers a cool new Web service, NOAA's Observing System Architecture (NOSA), presenting geospatial information of more than 80 of its observing systems.