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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Flying With Air Google Over Toxic Hot Spots

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
06 May 2009, 4:33 PM

As part of our campaign to clean up sources of toxic mercury pollution, we experimented with Google Earth to tell the story of how pollution from cement kilns is hurting local communities. Below is a video we produced that features two cement kilns right along the water in Seattle, WA.

Let's get a quick show of hands: How many of you have lost hours at work living out your flying fantasy in Google Earth? Well, me too.

But as the video above demonstrates, Google Earth is much more than just a way to visit Mt. Everest's summit or to survey the truly bizarro things people have discovered (like this cornfield maze resembling Oprah Winfrey). The technology is actually proving itself a valuable asset to conservation groups.

Rhett Butler of Mongabay wrote an interesting piece for e360 that highlights some of the ways organizations and individuals are harnessing Google Earth's power to convey information and protect our planet's precious resources. The fact that this tool—not to mention all the compelling information that outside groups are adding onto it—is just a download away is testament to the benefits technology can bring.

Google Earth was released in 2005. In 2007, Google Earth Outreach, a program that works with nonprofits to further conservation goals by using the technology, was created. GEO's roots rest in a successful effort led by Rebecca Moore that harnessed the power of Google Earth to generate a wave of public protest to a logging project in her local community in Santa Cruz County, CA. Moore, who heads Google Earth Outreach, created flyovers of the proposed logging site to show local residents exactly what the impacts would be.

Today, Google Earth Outreach highlights the many projects that nonprofit partners have created, which are well worth a look for their educational value and visual presentation. Undoubtedly, we'll see many more applications of this powerful tool, at Earthjustice and in the environmental community. Stay tuned.

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