Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Businesses The Internet News

Using Google Earth to See Destruction 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the mr-peabody's-coal-train-has-hauled-it-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Monday, an environmental advocacy group [Appalachian Voices] joined with Google to deliver a special interactive layer for Google Earth. This new layer will tell "the stories of over 470 mountains that have been destroyed from coal mining, and its impact on nearby ecosystems. Separately, the World Wildlife Fund has added the ability to visit its 150 project sites using Google Earth."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Using Google Earth to See Destruction

Comments Filter:
  • yamato! (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:01PM (#18357693) Homepage
    On Monday, an environmental advocacy group [Appalachian Voices] joined with Google to deliver a special interactive layer for Google Earth.

    What a letdown. By "special interactive layer", I was expecting shared control of an orbiting laser cannon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Live weather radar would be cool in Google Earth.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Cute 3-D pictures generated by Google will not stop the destruction of the earth. Companies and persons intending to rape the earth will laugh at environmentalists' puny efforts to save it.

      How can we save the earth?

      Google should arm leftist guerillas in key areas with high-value ecosystems: e.g., the rain forest. In exchange for arming the guerillas, they agree to help the environments by killing poachers and blowing up companies that rape the environment.

      Suppose that Google gives 10 shoulder-fired

      • Suppose that Google gives 10 shoulder-fired missile launchers and an arsenal of 200 missiles to the guerillas in Peru. In exchange, the Peruvian guerillas agree to kill 50 poachers and blow up 10 Korean fishing vessels.

        Those would be some sort of impressive shoulder-fired missiles, to hit Korean fishing vessels from Peru...

        Unless those Koreans are really going out of the way to get their fish, that is.

        • by Acer500 (846698)

          Those would be some sort of impressive shoulder-fired missiles, to hit Korean fishing vessels from Peru...

          Unless those Koreans are really going out of the way to get their fish, that is.

          You might be aiming for funny, but yes, Korean and Japanese fishing vessels really go out of the way to get their fish, they devastate the areas just outside the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zones of most countries (see: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

          Here's a really neat collection of links on the subject of overfishing I found while searching for this:

          http://www-geology.ucdavis.edu/~sumner/Teaching/GE L116f00/overfishing.html [ucdavis.edu]

          It recommends a book by Carl Safina: Song for

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Wouldn't work. Chiquita would just buy them off [cnn.com].
      • by operagost (62405)
        It's rather frightening that some slashdotters think that murder is OK as a means to an end. This deplorable post has been modded +2 so far.
    • For those who don't get the reference:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_motion_gun [wikipedia.org]

      (hey, I didn't make the reference; I would have compared it to the James Bond "Golden Eye" movie)
      • by User 956 (568564)
        (hey, I didn't make the reference; I would have compared it to the James Bond "Golden Eye" movie)

        The GoldenEye weapon caused an EMP blast, which, in the movie, knocked out any electronic gear in the radius. It didn't directly cause actual physical destruction of the landscape (The whole plan was to use the EMP as cover to steal cash money from the british financial system, not nuke the place from orbit)
  • by jerbenn (903795) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:02PM (#18357703)
    We have to quit destroying all the mountains. We will need them to live on after all the coal we burn causes the water levels to rise due to global warming.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:04PM (#18357729)
  • The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:13PM (#18357781)
    ... should be that the US has a 200-800 year supply of coal, and if OPEC or anyone else in the world says "screw the US", the US can just turn around and say "screw you". Coal can be processed to make fuel too. We shouldn't sell our independence and liberty down the river for the sake of some enviromental cause. Even if we used all the coal, only the tiniest percential of mountains would even have noticable changes.
    • by kqc7011 (525426) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:21PM (#18357831)
      Was the coal burned in power plants to power Googles server farms?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
        Was the coal burned in power plants to power Googles server farms?

        hydro [bfccomputing.com]
        • How about a direct link [pbs.org]...
          • I'm sorry you felt my summary of Cringely's long article had no value.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Well not no value, but very little. You could have posted your whole summary here, plus the link on your blog doesn't work anymore. I just found going to RTFA a little annoying so figured I'd give the next person a shorter path.
              • Well not no value, but very little

                Well that's a value judgement, I guess. If you want to read 4 minutes into the Cringely article to find out that Google is building next to hydro because it's a UPS, that's great. But not everybody cares to.

                You could have posted your whole summary here

                Yeah, and if was paid to be here that might be a good plan. Copy and pasting a URL was the fastest way for me to share some information (for free). Feel free to not follow any of my links if it's entirely too much work for
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DeathElk (883654)
      A smarter and better option is to increase R & D into renewable energy. My employer's father (and the company founder) converted internal combustion engines to run off coal during WWII out of sheer necessity. Not a minor engineering feat. Performing this on a widespread scale carries far less insight than developing new technology, such as hydrogen.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdmkolbe (944892)
        Um ... Hydrogen isn't a renewable energy source. It is an energy storage mechanism. So we'll probably burn coal to make Hydrogen that we can than use to power our cars. (Hydro and wind don't yet scale up well enough, and most people are scared of nuclear.) Coal plants generally burn cleaner than gas cars due to efficiencies of scale so it's still a net win, but people need to stop thinking that Hydrogen fixes all our energy problems.
        • hydrogen (Score:5, Interesting)

          by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_20 ... minus herbivore> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @01:05AM (#18358393)

          So we'll probably burn coal to make Hydrogen that we can than use to power our cars.

          Actually reforming [hydrogen.co.uk] natural gas makes a better source of hydrogen than coal. The best way to produce hydrogen though may be using algae [zetatalk.com] to produce it.

          Falcon
          • by Dasher42 (514179)
            Would you say that algae farms that photosynthesize sunlight and produce hydrogen to burn to get energy is a more efficient energy path that soaking up the sunlight's energy directly with solar panels? I think not.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jrockway (229604)
              Manufacturing algae is probably more efficient than manufacturing solar panels. In addition, compare what happens to a solar cell when it's reached its end-of-life to an alga that's reached its end-of-life.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by njh (24312)
                You'd be surprised I think. The hydrogen producing algae need fairly special conditions and fairly special algae. This means that they would need to be encased in light transmitting, long life, hydrogen proof panels of some sort - and quickly you're looking at panel technologies that are going to be more expensive than simple coatings approaches required for PV. Concentrating approaches that work for PV would kill the algae too. The algae will need nutrients and waste handling as well as hydrogen separa
            • Would you say that algae farms that photosynthesize sunlight and produce hydrogen to burn to get energy is a more efficient energy path that soaking up the sunlight's energy directly with solar panels? I think not.

              Ce depend, it depends. Though they are improving in efficiency solar PVs, photovoltaic, panels aren't really efficient. The best ones I've heard of are only about 22% efficient. They are good at the point of use, but if the place the energy derived is not local then an energy carrier such as

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheGavster (774657)
        Excellent plan! Then we can burn the coal to make electricity to electrolyze water. Or, we could liquify the coal, and crack it to generate hydrogen.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        You mean like the diesel engine that was originaly running on coal dust? OR did he retrofit an otto cycle engine that is more simular to a gasoline car engine?
      • A smarter and better option is to increase R & D into renewable energy.
        You'd better watch this one... you'll have some entrepreneurs leveling the Rockies to grow Corn for Bio-diesel because of the "green" funding from the government ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nimey (114278)
      It's not efficient, is it? It wasn't in the 1940s when Germany was producing ersatz low-quality oils and fuel from coal.

      Then there's the environmental impact of coal strip-mining. Even deep mines will have problems with sinkholes and where to put the tailings. The stuff's awful when burned, much dirtier than even diesel fuel, unless you gasify it first.
    • Re:The real story (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rubberchickenboy (1044950) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:53PM (#18358007)
      We shouldn't sell our independence and liberty down the river for the sake of some enviromental cause.

      Ignoring environmental causes will "sell our independence and liberty down the river" quite thoroughly, thank you.

      And I think you have it backward: others are saying "screw the US" because we have said, so often, "screw you."
    • Re:The real story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @12:12AM (#18358121)
      Coal CAN be extracted from the earth in a less destructive manner. It can even be burnt in a relatively clean fashion with minimal emissions, if one is willing to build plants that are marginally more expensive.

      Granted, nuclear beats coal on all of those counts and the US is VERY friendly with two of the nations with the largest supplies (Australia, and everybody's favourite exploiter of Yankee overpopulation, Canada). Still, with just a bit of effort and will, America could satisfy both environmental concerns and industrial concerns using coal. Nuclear power and America's bountiful wind and tidal resources just make the picture that much sweeter.

      • uranium mining (Score:3, Insightful)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        Coal CAN be extracted from the earth in a less destructive manner. It can even be burnt in a relatively clean fashion with minimal emissions, if one is willing to build plants that are marginally more expensive.

        Granted, nuclear beats coal on all of those counts

        Have you ever seen what uranium mining does? Many of those who live where it is mined are opposed to the mining, such as the Diné or Navajo [sric.org] and those in Saskatchewan [accesscomm.ca]. Aboriginals in Australia have fighting mining since before it started

        • Re:uranium mining (Score:4, Insightful)

          by c6gunner (950153) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @02:46AM (#18358875)
          Buddy, if we could find some way to turn Roses into the most efficient fuel known to man, there would be people opposed to having rose-plantations near their house. It's called "NIMBY", and you'll find that a case of it exists for any project worth pursuing.
          • Buddy, if we could find some way to turn Roses into the most efficient fuel known to man, there would be people opposed to having rose-plantations near their house. It's called "NIMBY", and you'll find that a case of it exists for any project worth pursuing.

            Just because NIMBYism exists doesn't mean mining for uranium isn't envornmentally distructive. And in some cases, such as the ones I cited regarding the Diné or Navajo and the aboriginals of Australia, it's their land that's being mined without

        • You're right. We should just all move into caves. Oh wait, burning wood creates pollution too, so no cooking fires in the caves. Let's just kill all humans and be done with it, since that's the ultimate end point in the line of reasoning used by the more radical elements of the environmental movement.
    • Re:The real story (Score:4, Interesting)

      by div_2n (525075) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @12:23AM (#18358175)
      You've obviously never seen the devastation caused by slurry "dams" breaking and flooding valleys with the muck. Or never had to deal with the dust generated by the mining or the pollution to the groundwater. I can guess you've never had to meet a coal truck on small country road at night in a blind curve. And we haven't even gotten to mud runoff from bare mountains yet. Forget Google Earth. If you've never seen the ugliness left behind by mountain top removal up close and personal, then you can't truly understand how bad it really is.

      The problem that most people don't get is that many of the people who stand to feel the negative effects from this type of mining are those that actually live there. On the average, they don't have any clout or power to do anything about it. Even worse--they often make their living from it so that it is needed as much as it is hated.

      Want to extract energy from Appalachia? Heck, if you're willing to turn the beautiful mountain views into a wasteland, just stick lots and lots of windmills on top of the mountains. 50 to 100 feet off the tops of the mountains, the wind blows quite strongly virtually all the time. At least that way the people in the valleys can still drink their well water.
      • by operagost (62405)

        I can guess you've never had to meet a coal truck on small country road at night in a blind curve.
        LOL... as if coal trucks are inherently more dangerous. It could as easily be carrying logs, oil, or milk.
        • by div_2n (525075)
          Coal trucks are, on the average, infinitely more dirty than logging trucks. Guess what that does to break lights, reflectors and headlights? Add in bit of fog and you can literally run into the back of a coal truck and not know it was there until you hear the metal crunch.

          Not that logging trucks aren't a problem because they often run on many of the same roads that coal truck drivers do, but based on what I've seen up close, coal trucks pose a much greater road hazard due to the dust on lights and reflector
    • if OPEC or anyone else in the world says "screw the US", the US can just turn around and say "screw you".

      Boy, you'd think so, but we got kicked hard in the balls and now we're funding both sides in the war on terror, and not building any new fission energy plants.
    • Re:The real story (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bergeron76 (176351) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @12:33AM (#18358221)
      Friend - we haven't sold our independence and liberty down the river. We've squandered it away to rich Oil Companies and knownothing voters.

      We've been too busy worrying about Linux vs. Windows to worry about old-fashioned buzzwords like Freedom, Liberty and Independence.

      We are reaping what we are sowing. Most Americans care more about movies about comic book heroes, Latte coffee drinks, and purporting to be holy while cursing the latest football/spectator sport game. We don't have time for silliness like, OUR FREEDOMS and WHAT THEY WILL HAVE MEANT WHEN THEY ARE GONE.

      So, who's up for a game of WoW?

      We must be the change we wish to see. -Ghandi

    • Coal-To-Liquids (CTL) via the Fischer-Tropsch process not only emits huge amounts of CO2 but only produces small amounts very low quality crude. If OPEC decides to "screw the US" (a very unlikely scenario, more likely, they'll just start running out of the stuff) then even with a massively competent military-style deployment of CTL, prices would still skyrocket. So, I wouldn't rely on it too much if I were you. It will undoubtably help ease the pain though - morphine style.
  • actual link (Score:2, Informative)

    by elliott666 (447115)
    So, if you want to check it out, the link that should have been in the story is:

    http://ilovemountains.org/memorial_tutorial/ [ilovemountains.org]
  • I thought Google had stuck a satellite over the middle east and had it continually taking pictures or something. Then I read the summary. Bit of a disappointment let me tell you.
  • Username required ___________________
    Password required ___________________

    I dunno, I didn't see much after that. Pretty ugly.

  • I hereby award samzenpus the "Far Out" award for the John Denver quote on the "dept" subtitle. 8-)
  • Mountains? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asifyoucare (302582)
    Coal is not usually associated with mountains. Metals are often associated with mountains, but coal is sedimentary.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by syphax (189065)

      Have you ever been to West Virginia? It's called mountaintop removal [wikipedia.org].
    • Coal is not usually associated with mountains.

      Never heard of the Appalachia [wikipedia.org] and the Appalachian Mountain range then have you? Or Black Mesa [blackmesais.org]? Coal mining was extensive in both places and still is in Appalachia [coalcampusa.com].

      Falcon
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      Not all mountains are of igneous origin. Some mountains are formed of heaved-up sedimentary rock. And there is a lot of coal in the deep seams of such mountains (Appalachians, Urals, no doubt others that don't come to mind offhand). Deep seams tend to be high-grade bituminous and anthracite (the result of putting sedimentary coal under pressure), which are more valuable because they burn hotter and cleaner.

      Conversely, surface coal (the stuff you get from strip mines) tends to be low-grade bituminous, or wo
    • The Rockies, arguably North America's most well-known mountain range, are mostly sedimentary. Limestone and shale, baby!

      How did the parent get modded up, exactly?
  • I won't be surprised if there's a follow-up posted here in a few months about Google Maps and/or other similar services being strong-armed by government/industry (likely under the guise of "protecting homeland security") into censoring environmental damaged areas from public view.

    Ron
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      I had a related thought: If Google is in bed with the WWF today, whom might they be in bed with tomorrow?? And might this in turn taint the impartiality of their search results?? What if the WWF, or some other special interest (including the gov't), wishes to exaggerate/denigrate the impact of whatever their overlay is focused on??

  • Pictures can't convey the devastation that is mountaintop removal.

    If you've never heard of mountaintop removal or don't see what the big deal is, then please do check out the overlays, but nothing compares to seeing it firsthand.

    Any natural destruction: earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane Katrina, pales in comparison. In all these cases, the human community may suffer great losses, structural damage, but these can all be built back in time. In mountaintop removal, the very land itself is utterly destroyed;
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      Here in SoCal, developers literally move mountains to make more buildable land. Once the newly-flattened earth is covered with tract houses and shopping malls, it's even more irrecoverable than a mined-out mountain (which *could* eventually become an ecosystem again).

  • by FromTheHorizon (1008223) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @01:40AM (#18358587) Homepage
    I think this sort of think is a great example of how Non Government Organizations (NGOs) can make great use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

    More NGOs should follow this example and use technology like Google Earth to show where they are working, and what they are doing. This gives people a better idea of where the money they donate is being spent. It also gives people a better idea of what work needs to be done, be it to protect the environment, or to reduce poverty (although the two are fundamentally linked) - this is how technology should be used to make the world a smaller place. What would be great if WWF included on the ground photos of their program activities, so people could take a virtual tour of what was being done.

    The next step is for NGOs to use GIS to help them with their work. A good example which I came across was in a refugee camp in Uganda, where they plotted to locations of Cholera outbreaks, and then compared this to the location of all the wells. Some of the wells showed high concertrations of outbreaks around them, indicating that they were contaminated - and so they were closed down. This is just a basic example, GIS could be used to make really interesting correlations between education, poverty and the environment.

    However I work for an NGO and know how slow they are to adopt new technology, but that's a whole different story...

  • genocide (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ridl (930256) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @02:06AM (#18358727)
    the flippant nature of the conversation so far kind of disgusts me. I worked for some of these campaigns in West Virginia a couple summers ago, and what's going on down there is terrifying and, in my mind, evil.

    The term isn't strip mining. This is worse. They call it Mountaintop Removal Mining, although really they destroy entire mountain ranges, then shovel the rubble into what were valleys, destroying thousands of miles of freshwater creeks. The work takes a crew of no more than a couple dozen, whereas traditional "deep" mining needs hundreds, so the jobs that the Appalachian hill culture depends on have disappeared along with drinking water, wildlife habitat, and resident's health. The destruction is complete. The mountains, their ecosystems, and the cultures they support will never return. Dirty King Coal, meanwhile, reaps unprecedented profits.

    Remember, energy from coal is anything but clean. Coal plants push massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating the mass extinction we all are witness to.

    What's happening in Apallachia, one of Project Censored [projectcensored.org]'s 25 most censored stories of 2005, is a crime against humanity and the planet. I applaud Google for helping to bring attention to it. If any of you feel like helping in this struggle, www.climateaction.net/mjsb [climateaction.net] is a good place to start.
    • geocide is still probably pushing it, but genocide is right out.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I used to work for a prominent Appalachian research organization, and had to tow the company line about how destructive strip mining was, how it was going to destroy the environment, blah, blah, blah. But the fact is that most of the strip mines *I* dealt with were little more than temporary eyesores (temporary, since laws required the companies to at least minimally restore the areas effected) in remote areas sparsely populated with litigious, unemployed never-do-wells.

      And before you hippies jump all ove

  • Useless link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tweekster (949766) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @02:55AM (#18358921)
    Why link a summary of content to a summary of content.

    how about dropping that link right to something useful, not just another link site?
  • Oak Mapper [oakmapper.org] is another site that shows some other negative environmental effects of the global economy, albeit less starkly visible. Oak Mapper is a webGIS that helps track the progress of Sudden Oak Death [wikipedia.org], a disease that is significantly altering the oak woodlands of California. If you download the KMZ or zoom into a marked area on the Google Maps version, you can see dead tree crowns around the site of the reported siting (the one in China Camp State Park just north north east of San Francisco has some g
  • Link to the tutorial (Score:4, Informative)

    by helge (67258) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @03:45AM (#18359121) Journal
    For those who actually want to try out this, go to http://ilovemountains.org/memorial_tutorial/ [ilovemountains.org]. It describes which layers to turn on in Google Earth to be able to see the Appalachian mountains removal.
  • by gd23ka (324741) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @05:34AM (#18359557) Homepage
    Environmentalism has overextended its welcome in the public mind and it's time people talked about
    the issues _behind_ environmentalism, instead of picking up a cue sheet of things to moan about from
    your local environmentalist outfit.

    Man-made or naturally occuring CO2, the latest science shows that neither are the cause of global
    warming but a symptom. Looking at the data first the temperatures go up and _then_ CO2 lagging after
    the temperature curve of hundreds of years. I suppose they prefer to talk about 470 mountains and
    hills instead. Those are obviously man-made.

    Don't believe me, go and watch this BBC documentary titled "The Global Warming Swindle" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XttV2C6B8pU [youtube.com]

    Dr. Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace makes an appearance in that documentary so you might
    want to hear it from the mouth of the horse itself.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Don't believe me, go and watch this BBC documentary titled "The Global Warming Swindle"

      You *do* know that has about as much legitimacy as an email from a nigerian prince don't you?

      Let's not let the truth get in the way of a good story though... Martin Durkin never has.

      See also:
      http://www.badscience.net/?p=381 [badscience.net]

      One final point. You'd better damned well hope that we are the cause of global warming. Because if we aren't then there's nothing we can do about it and we're all royally screwed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      Don't believe me, go and watch this BBC documentary titled "The Global Warming Swindle" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XttV2C6B8pU [youtube.com]

      You mean the Channel 4 programme - I hesitate to say 'documentary' as it made Michael Moore look professional and honest - which has since been denounced [mit.edu] by one of the scientists the makers tricked into appearing?

  • We have to keep destroying all the mountains. They get in the way of winds and make power generation less efficient.
  • This new layer will tell "the stories of over 470 mountains that have been destroyed from coal mining, and its impact on nearby ecosystems.
    Thanks again to the environmentalists who opposed nuclear power plants... so we got coal plants instead.
  • Maybe if the game commission hadn't kicked all user groups but hunters out of the gamelands (which comprise the majority of forests in the state), they'd have a stronger group dedicated to keeping that kind of stuff from happening.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

Working...