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Using Google Earth to See Destruction

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the mr-peabody's-coal-train-has-hauled-it-away dept.

Google 194

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."

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194 comments

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Get off my lawn! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357687)

God damn hippies!

I HATE HIPPIES! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357929)

I WANNA KICK `EM IN THE NUTS!

The War on Terror is OVER!!! (-1, Offtopic)

AoT (107216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358027)

Apperently the "mastermind" behind september eleventh has confessed to just about everything. [yahoo.com]

Yeah, he not only planned and executed hundreds of terror plots, he also killed your puppy and shot Santa.

Oh, did I mention that he eats babies and was definitely not tortured in to giving a confession. I mean, they even asked him, in his secret hearing, answers redacted, if he was confessing under duress. And, say the army, he said that he did not confess under duress.

Thank goodness. Now that we have the real culprit behind 9/11 we can leave Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our boys home.

I love this shit hole of a country.

Re:Get off my lawn! (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358155)

Ban mining! Let the bastards freeze in the dark!

(Apologies to the people who came up with that first)

yamato! (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357693)

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:yamato! (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357739)

Live weather radar would be cool in Google Earth.

Re:yamato! (5, Interesting)

NewNole2001 (717720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357849)

It's not google earth, rather MS Virtual Earth, but check out weather.com [weather.com] . They're overlaying live weather radar on virtual earth. It's really cool.

Only Firepower Will Save the Earth (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358169)

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 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.

Re:Only Firepower Will Save the Earth (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358385)

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.

Why the hell you gotta blame the Koreans ya racist?

Everyone knows its the damn Japanese that are to blame. The whaling bastards.

What's the range on that? (3, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358417)

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.

Re:Only Firepower Will Save the Earth (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358755)

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.
As oposed to the armmed malitias who are shooting endangered animals [alertnet.org] and raping the forest themselves? And are we going to skip the ones that rape the population or does that not count?

And with a do no evil tag line, why would Google even want to get invovled in anything like this?

Re:Only Firepower Will Save the Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18359211)

And with a do no evil tag line, why would Google even want to get invovled in anything like this?
With a sense of humour who would have taken this seriously?

GEWar (-1, Offtopic)

brenddie (897982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357701)

If you really want to see destruction using google earth you should stop by gewar.net
LONG LIVE AO!!!!!

the mountains are our future homes (4, Funny)

jerbenn (903795) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:the mountains are our future homes (2, Funny)

jerbenn (903795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358069)

I have been labeled as a troll. I thought mountains are where the trolls live?

Re:the mountains are our future homes (0, Offtopic)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358237)

No, they live under bridges. So you'll be the first to go!

Re:the mountains are our future homes (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358751)

actually, I thought your post was being sarcastic...

The solution is easy. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357729)

The real story (5, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:The real story (4, Funny)

kqc7011 (525426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357831)

Was the coal burned in power plants to power Googles server farms?

Re:The real story (2, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358187)

Was the coal burned in power plants to power Googles server farms?

hydro [bfccomputing.com]

Re:The real story (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358515)

How about a direct link [pbs.org] ...

Re:The real story (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358591)

I'm sorry you felt my summary of Cringely's long article had no value.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357869)

If you don't know the purpose of Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If you don't know Clarus from Carl Sagan, GTFO.

Real Mac users can smell a bandwagon jumper a mile away. Get your filthy PC hands off our platform. We don't want you here.

Love, at last (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358423)

Will you marry me?

Re:The real story (3, Interesting)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357897)

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:The real story (3, Insightful)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357941)

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.

Re:The real story (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358301)

Good point, thanks.

hydrogen (4, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#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

Re:hydrogen (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358935)

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:hydrogen (2, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359197)

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:The real story (2, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357945)

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.

Re:The real story (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357997)

I figured it would be easier to convert the coal to oil than to redesign engines, but I guess not.

Anyway, better renewable energy technology can't actually reduce fossil fuel use. It just adds to the supply of energy. People will take the existence of that energy source as a given, energy supply increases, and the marvelous engines of capitalism find another use for it. It's like trying to cut down on thievery by giving away TV's to the current TV thieves.

It would, however, make restrictions (like taxes) on fossil fuels a lot more bearable, which you may consider a worthy cause anyway.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358319)

Why can't we replace fossil fuels with oil harvested from algae? You can run cars on it and you can grow the algae pretty much anywhere.

Re:The real story (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358471)

This doesn't exactly make sense.

If you were able to produce energy from renewable sources at prices that were less than non-renewable sources, only a fool would keep using the non-renewables. Now, it might in fact happen, that once everyone had switched over to the new, cheaper, renewable energy source, energy consumption would actually increase, because with it being cheaper, suddenly things that weren't practical before, would be. That's all pretty straightforward capitalism-in-action.

The problem, is that nobody has ever found a renewable energy source that's cheaper than non-renewables, in anything other than very particular cases. (Obviously, if you're standing atop Niagara Falls, you'd be a fool to not use what's in front of you, but that's not something that people elsewhere can easily replicate.) So non-renewables are cheaper, and people use those instead.

What's more likely to happen, barring the discovery of some incredibly cheap renewable, is that people will continue to use non-renewable sources until they begin to dwindle, at which point the price will go up, at which point suddenly renewable sources will be competitive and will begin to become popular. However, because the overall price of a unit of energy has increased, some activities that were once possible, will no longer be practical, and will be terminated for cost reasons. (E.g., if the cost of commercial airfare goes up, people will stop flying places on vacation, etc.)

Blaming "capitalism" for these effects makes about as much sense to me as blaming Boyle's Law for a hurricane. What's going on here is nothing but a lot of psychology; individual people trying to do whatever produces the best outcome for themselves at particular instants. If you don't like the outcome, the solution isn't to rail against the models that predict it, it's to try and modify in some way the input conditions so as to make the desired outcome more likely.

Re:The real story (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358897)

The problem isn't really capitolism. It also has to do with finding renewable energy that we can actualy use. Hydrogen cars will cost significantly more the regular cars, not alot of people are going to be willing to buy them unless they can get fuel easily (sucks being out of gas on the interstate durring rush hour and noticing the only thing stopping people from driving by and making fun of you is the five or ten accidents that happened because of the backup you caused by blocking a lane of travel), they can afford them (prives need to come down) and they can get them serviced cheaper then buying a new one.

Now i know hydrogen isn't a renewable source of energy, it is more of a storage unit. But all the challenges of the next great thing as far as energy goes is right there. And it isn't even a fair fight, Traditional energy models have over 100 years of support behind it. They have everything already in place, the distribution is in place, the ability to use them are in place. A new sourceof energy doesn't have that.

I think one of the problems with renewable energy costing more is directly related to converting it's use to what we are already using. Even Biofuel doesn't get as good of milage or power production unless you have a vehicle designed to run on it. Which mean it will be 15 to 20 years before I can afford one. Every other car I have owned has been 15 years or older. I don't see why a more expensive one or a newer one would be any different.

Re:The real story (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359001)

Blaming "capitalism" for these effects makes about as much sense to me as blaming Boyle's Law for a hurricane.
Bull. Markets are not natural laws like physics, they're created by legislation. E.g. property and contract law. Policy can greatly impact markets. The trillion-dollar subsidy of oil happening in Iraq right now will never be fully reflected in the pump price of gas. The costs of building levies to keep Florida and New York above water will certainly not be paid by today's oil companies and drivers.

Re:The real story (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358819)

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?

Re:The real story (1)

thebigo195 (949864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357915)

That sounds good in theory but the price of gasoline would still double or triple, so both sides would lose.

Re:The real story (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357987)

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 (4, Insightful)

rubberchickenboy (1044950) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358907)

lol.. Someone mark this guy up as funny or the new supper funny mod "insightful"

Re:The real story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18359111)

Parent needs to be modded up. That is all, thanks.

Re:The real story (5, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358463)

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, the Mirrar and Jabiluka [eniar.org] have been fighting it since at least the 1970s.

Falcon

Re:uranium mining (3, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:The real story (3, Interesting)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358283)

We can have both. Strip-mine the country bare and put windmills on the tailing piles.

That's where you're wrong.... (0, Offtopic)

Lensar (1011229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359027)

"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."

You've obviously never seen Black Adder:

Rum: aah-ahhh! [strokes his hand] You have a woman's hand, milord! I'll wager these
dainty pinkies never weighed anchor in a storm.
Blackadder: Well, you're right there.
Rum: Ha ha ha. -Aah! Your skin milord. I'll wager it ne'er felt the lash of a cat 'o' nine tails,
been rubbed with salt, and then flayed off by a pirate chief to make fine stockings for his best
cabin boy.
Blackadder: How uncanny, I don't know how you do it, but you're right again.
Rum: Why should I let a stupid cockerel like you aboard me boat?
Blackadder: Perhaps for the money in my purse [holding it up]
Rum: Ha. -Aah! You have a woman's purse! [takes it from him and examines it daintily]
I'll wager that purse has never been used as a rowing-boat. I'll wager it's never had sixteen
shipwrecked mariners tossing in it.
Blackadder: Yes, right again, Rum. I must say when it comes to tales of courage I'm going to
have to keep my mouth shut.
Rum: Oh! You have a woman's mouth, milord! I'll wager that mouth never had to chew through
the side of a ship to escape the dreadful spindly killer fish.
Blackadder: I must say, when I came to see you, I had no idea I was goingt o have to eat your
ship as well as hire it. And since you're clearly as mad as a mongoose I'll bid you farewell
[gets up]
Rum: Aaah, courtiers to the Queen, you're nothing but lapdogs to a slip of a girl.
Blackadder: Better a "lapdog to a slip of a girl", than a... Git.
Rum: So you do have some spunk in you! Don't worry, laddie, I'll come, I'll come [holds out his
hand]
Blackadder: Well, let us set sail as soon as we can. [they shake] I will fetch my first mate,
and then I'll return as fast as my legs will carry me.
Rum: Ah! [pointing] You have a woman's legs, my lord! I'll wager those are legs that have
never been sliced clean off by a falling sail, and swept into the sea before your very eyes.
Blackadder: [crossly] Well, neither have yours.
Rum: That's where you're wrong

Thank you, may I have another? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358193)

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 (3, Insightful)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 7 years ago | (#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

Re:The real story (0, Troll)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358891)

You stick to your WoW and your linux - there's better people than you securing your freedoms. As long as you're in your own delusional little world, dreaming about Big Oil conspiracies and moon landing hoaxes, you can't do any damage to our efforts.

Re:The real story (1)

gondwannabe (1028488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358813)

Well...apart from the destruction and carbon emissions caused by the actual mining and moving of the coal, 'clean coal' may not be any kind of carbon neutral panacea - at least not any time soon. Australia just announced it's first 'next gen', 'clean coal' power plant.

How clean?

About a 30% reduction in greenhouse gasses. And the Australian taxpayer is going to have to subsidise the project to the tune of AUD$100M (US$79M) to achieve this result. Hardly gonna get us home, is it?

While we're all so focused on our little LCD screens, we might want to occasionally look out the window and wave goodbye...

Re:The real story (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359303)

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.

Re:The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18359547)

"should be that the US has a 200-800 year supply of coal"

Check this out:

U.S coal reserves

Year | Supply of coal
---------------------
1868 | 10000 years
1904 | 1000 years
1988 | 300 years
2000 | 255 years

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/052504_c oal_peak.html [fromthewilderness.com]

2005 | 240 years
(Coal reserves 246,643 million tonnes, production 1028.1 million tonnes)

http://www.bp.com/productlanding.do?categoryId=684 2&contentId=7021390 [bp.com]

Fort McMurray next please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357785)

The tar sands, rebranded the oil sands a few years back, and now billed as a solution to American energy independence, is a massive environmental tragedy. Acres upon acres of strip-mined natural wetlands, and massive amounts of natural gas burned to separate the bituminous oil from the sludge. I would really like Americans to see first hand the cost of energy independence.

actual link (2, Informative)

elliott666 (447115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357795)

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]

Re:actual link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357857)

+1 Slashdotted

When I saw the headline (2, Funny)

Hobbs0 (1055434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357807)

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.

before and after (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357863)

What no before and after shots?

The hills are alive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357905)

with the sound of Appalachian Voices setting placemarks...

blighted Internet link (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357925)

Username required ___________________
Password required ___________________

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

Far Out (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357943)

I hereby award samzenpus the "Far Out" award for the John Denver quote on the "dept" subtitle. 8-)

not quite... (1)

mudshark (19714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358131)

John Prine wrote it. John Denver covered it.

Re:not quite... (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358487)

I stand corrected. Thanks.

Mountains? (1, Insightful)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357969)

Coal is not usually associated with mountains. Metals are often associated with mountains, but coal is sedimentary.

Re:Mountains? (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358051)

Which just goes to show that coal is the debbil's work, as nothing like that would exist 'pushed up on top of the mountain' unless it was the devil's doing. Certainly it couldn't have happened by non-diabolical means in the 8000 years since the Lord(*) created the Earth.

(* The Lard Dog almighty! Praise the Lard!)

Re:Mountains? (2, Informative)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358099)


Have you ever been to West Virginia? It's called mountaintop removal [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Mountains? (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358203)

I was there once when I was very young. I even saw a "mountaintop removal" operation, and I also saw what the mountaintop looked like after they had put it back, they did a damn good job, I couldn't tell that there was a difference (though I am sure animals were displaced, etc.) I think all in all it wasn't too bad of a job. (I was like 12 at the time, so maybe I'm off, maybe a resident of the area would like to back up or refute my post)

Re:Mountains? (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358501)

Terraforming the area does mitigate the damage to the environment significantly, although some companies have replanted the area with grass instead of trees. There has been an effort to encourage replanting of trees, but it might also be interesting to see if switchgrass could be grown there.

The largest environmental concern, however, is the production of large amounts of slurry (a water suspension of coal, sulfur, and other minerals that is created as a byproduct of the mining and cleaning process) which ends up stored near the mining site behind large dams created during the excavation process. Long-term disposal of this slurry presents a huge environmental challenge.

However, much of the political opposition to mountaintop removal mining comes from labor union pressure, since it takes far less manpower to conduct a mountaintop removal operation than to run a conventional mine.

Fine, 'till they go bankrupt. (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358541)

The problem is that many of the mining companies don't last long enough to put the mountaintop back where it belongs; they remove the mountain, take out some or most of the coal, and then go bankrupt.

There's a lot of finger-pointing when this happens, usually wherein management will blame astronomically expensive union employees and contracts, and the union negotiators and employees will blame mismanagement. (I suspect the truth is a combination of both, as usual.)

But the end result is that the company will go bankrupt and the mountain will get left torn apart. The same thing happens with some strip and open-pit mining operations; I know of a few places (mostly Pennsylvania) where there are open pit mines sitting around that were supposed to have been filled in, but the companies disappeared when the mines petered out.

IMO, the solution here is to require that before the first shovelful of earth is dug, that the mining company secures a bond for the cost of the environmental cleanup and restoration. If they go bankrupt or fail to restore the area within a certain number of years, the government takes over, calls in the bond, and has someone do it for them. The beauty of this is that it doesn't create a giant "trust fund" sitting around somewhere, for sleazebag politicans to raid for their own pork-barrel purposes, and it ensures that mining companies who don't fulfill their obligations will be pushed out of the marketplace: if you blow it and a multi-billion-dollar bond gets called in, you can bet nobody is ever going to underwrite anything you do again.

I don't know if this sort of bonding is anything like current policy, but it seems like the simplest way, and one that avoids actually delving into why the mining companies fail, which is a can of worms better left sealed.

Re:Fine, 'till they go bankrupt. (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358947)

I vaguely recall that some of the strip mines in eastern Montana (which dwarf these mountaintop mines) were required to post a reclamation bond with the state, following some loot-and-scoot operations such as you describe. I don't recall how successful the bond program was (this was 30-odd years ago), tho I do know some defunct mines were restored, some to a more useful state than the sagebrush and rocks they'd started as.

Re:Mountains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358103)

I can't believe that got moded up. check out west virginia some time and tell me there aren't mountains associated with coal.

Coal is not usually associated with mountains. (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358241)

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:Mountains? (2, Informative)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359005)

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 worse, lignite (not-quite-coal-yet).

When I lived in Montana I heated my house with a coal stove (when it's -65F, wood just doesn't produce enough heat), and that's how I learned that coal from Montana was crap compared to coal from Wyoming, even tho the major strip mines were less than 200 miles apart. If I wanted decent coal, sometimes I had to drive down to Sheridan and pick it up off the side of the road (they'd let you do that outside the mines -- small chunks tend to fall off the trucks).

BTW when splitting coal for the stove, I often found fossilized "prints" from plants (leaves, tree rings, etc.)

What if the Dinosaurs had such a tool? (0)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358077)

Think about it. If the T-Rex had this tool they might have been able to forstall the deforestation caused by that evil meteor. Their gradual decline and loss of way of life could have been prevented. It is really too bad Google Earth didn't exist back then.

I only wonder if Google will soon build Google TimeMachine and let people travel back to help the poor dinosaurs prevent the incredible deforestation and increases in global greenhouse gasses caused thereby.

One can only hope.

All Hail Google!

Re:What if the Dinosaurs had such a tool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358435)

I was really hoping Google Earth and our "green" friends would show the Antarctic ice sheet. I really want to see the growth over the past 10 years! Al Gore and the main stream media have conveniently failed to mention this in their selective study of global warming.
 
I really wish Google Earth would show us the magnetic polar shift that's happening... along with increased solar activity is most likely to increase global warming. You remember the sun don't you? The sun is the MAIN reason the earth maintains a nice temperature? Well, Google Earth should show the effects of the sun on earth. Show the destruction! I want to see it.

 

So much for environmental advocacy (1)

dancingwllamas (1075981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358085)

Don't they know that strip mining prevents forest fires?

Re:So much for environmental advocacy (1)

iandog (449451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358143)

Don't you know that forest fires are good for the environment?

More than environment (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358147)

As I understand it, the coal was pushed up when the tectonic plates collided. In the past, they would dig into the mountain and get it through the mine, but it is easier, cheaper, and requires fewer workers to blow off the top of a mountain and surface mine it. http://www.crmw.net/campaigns.php [crmw.net]

The problems we have with coal are a big issue, but if you would prefer the United States rely on old dirty power sources so the coal companies can make more money instead of investing in new, cleaner technology, then you should be concerned about the people who are being affected in the area. http://www.crmw.net/campaigns.php?camp=mfe [crmw.net]

True self sufficiency should be achieved through sustainable methods that do not harm the property of individuals and their communities. Mountain top removal harms more than the environment.

What was the point of TFA? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358213)

With source-less stories like this one where TFA has no more information than the summary, what's the point? Just to make some ad revenue for the website?

Cheat sheet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358239)

For those that are not really sure what layers are or what this article is about..

Assuming you have Google Earth installed..

Now it's your turn to fly over the region. I invite you to take a look at the mountaintop removal layer in the new featured content for Google Earth. Look for "Appalachian Mountaintop Removal" under the "Global Awareness" folder of the "Layers" sidebar. You can take the site tour of a mountaintop removal operation, explore the featured mountains and affected communities marked with blue flag buttons, and use the slider bar to see high resolution images of these mountains before and after mountaintop removal. To view all the locations of the over 470 mountains that have been destroyed, please visit the full featured version of the Memorial on www.iLoveMountains.org.

Save the mountains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18358333)

This new layer will tell "the stories of over 470 mountains that have been destroyed from coal mining, and its impact on nearby ecosystems.

We MUST save the mountains.... Mountains are people too, you know!

Next: Environment Damage Censored for Security (1, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358357)

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

Re:Next: Environment Damage Censored for Security (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358901)

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??

Re:Next: Environment Damage Censored for Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18359411)

Yeah. Using strong arm techniques makes sense with World Wrestling Federation.

Re:Next: Environment Damage Censored for Security (0, Flamebait)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358911)

Time to take your meds again Ron!

Re:Next: Environment Damage Censored for Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18359365)

Thank you for that bit of wild, baseless speculation.

Pictures can't convey (1)

daemonc (145175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358495)

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; there is nothing to build back on. The people cannot move back because the ground is unstable for decades to come. Entire ecosystems are buried along with streams and rivers in valley fills. The groundwater for miles around is poisoned with heavy metals and acidic drainage.

Every time I drive past one of these sites I get chills down spine. I am horrified that humans are capable of defiling the earth in such a manner, and all in the name of money...

Re:Pictures can't convey (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358833)

On May 18th, 1980 we had a rather sudden mountain top removal here in Washington when Mt. St. Helens blew. The area beyond the immediate blast zone has actually come back rather nicely, but up close it's still a wasteland... 600 MPH pyroclastic floes tend to wipe everything away...

Re:Pictures can't convey (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358857)

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).

Organisations should make more use GIS like this (4, Insightful)

FromTheHorizon (1008223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18358587)

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 (5, Interesting)

ridl (930256) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:genocide (1, Interesting)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359347)

Genocide? Do you even know what the word means? That's a rhetorical question; you obviously don't. For future reference, it's "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." It's not just a generic word that means "something really bad that I don't like."

Looking at the same thing in Google Earth, you and I see two very different things. I see a few small grey mines in a sea of thousands of untouched mountain peaks. Yes, entire mountains are being leveled and the nearby valleys are being filled. This is the way mining works. But the important thing to remember is that this is not environmental damage - it's a rock moving exercise on a large scale. The material that's being moved is clean overburden that doesn't produce acid, and there are no harmful chemicals used in the processing of the coal. Streams are sometimes diverted, and sometimes they're actually routed underneath fill through engineered structures known as rock drains.

The simple truth is that your concerns are *aesthetic* and not environmental. You're screaming genocide (remember, that's the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic group) over the *scenery* in and around a few mining operations that, compared to the scale of the mountain range, are tiny.

We need coal. It would be nice if we didn't, but we do... just like we need copper, nickel, zinc, and all the other elements that form everything you touch and use on a daily basis. This stuff doesn't magically appear at Costco as a finished product, but the good news is that an incredibly tiny percentage of the earth's land area gives us all the metal we need. If you want to live in a society with things like plumbing and computers, you need to level a few mountains... even if they're really, really pretty.

It's especially telling of your ignorance that you suggest underground mining as an alternative. First, because the viability of a mining method depends on the thickness, orientation, and geology of a deposit, and second, because you suggest using an inefficient and expensive technique under which these mines could never compete - and then suggest to us that an ancillary benefit would be job creation. The reality is that it's not a choice between mountaintop removal and underground mining - it's mountaintop removal or nothing at all. Let's see you sell that to the local residents.

Sorry if coal mining offends your sense of aesthetics. If you must be a crusader for something, at least find a legitimate environmental cause.

Useless link (2, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Another (slightly less glamorous) example (1)

TimmyDee (713324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359065)

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 good examples).

Internet mapping and webGIS are great tools for highlighting such environmental issues. They're also a good way to get the public involved and working with scientists. My lab runs Oak Mapper and has a number of other webGIS sites up and running that help to facilitate this connection between research and the real world. Google Earth has made our lives pretty exciting at this point!

Link to the tutorial (4, Informative)

helge (67258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359121)

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.

WWF (1)

professorfalcon (713985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18359239)

The World Wildlife Fund is please to be working with Google to showcase its projects. The WWF wants to do a smackdown on those who want to harm the world's wildlife. They seek to put a choke hold on companies who negatively impact those habitats. And the WWF strives to clothesline any legislation that will further endanger the most innocent of creatures on this planet.

Yeah, the wrong company won that name dispute.
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