On December 2nd, Google Inc., announced an ambitious 21st century innovation to help protect and monitor the World’s precious forests. Via their Google Earth Engine, the company seeks to enable scientists and researchers around the world to study, track and clearly report their findings as to the health of the world’s forests in a timely internet-driven fashion.
The Google Earth Engine utilizes Google’s “cloud” computing infrastructure, a vast array of powerful computers linked to deliver resource intensive calculations in a prompt, near-realtime fashion.
Find out more at blog.google.org/2010/12/introducing-google-earth-engine.html
One hundred and fifty union workers in West Virginia have begun construction on a 130 Megawatt, 61 turbine wind farm along an eight mile section of ridge in Barbour and Randolph counties. The $250 million Laurel Mountain wind farm will provide enough electricity for between 20,000 and 50,000 U.S. homes, depending on their level of energy efficiency. Wind energy today is the second fastest growing source of US electricity and accounts for about 2% of the United States electricity production.
President Obama’s State of Energy and Appalachia
In his beginning of the year State of the Union address, President Obama called for 80 percent of America’s electricity to come from clean sources by 2035, including wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. While some of these sources of energy, such as wind and solar, are largely clean, no solutions or plans were presented for dealing with the damaging effects of the extraction, processing, and waste disposal of nuclear, coal and natural gas energy production fuels.
Appalachia is host to some of the most aggressive strip and mountaintop removal coal mining in the United States and the Marcellus Shale natural gas bed.
The Alternative Coal Slurry Disposal Act— a bill introduced in the West Virginian Legislature on January 25— would prohibit new permits, modifications and renewals of existing permits for injection of coal waste or slurry into abandoned underground mines. The bill also makes provisions for the creation of safer, more responsible coal processing methods via support for technological innovation.
The bill is considered an achievement by those in the state of West Virginia seeking to protect residential and municipal drinking waters from toxic coal mining wastes.
Read more about the proposed legislation at sludgesafety.org.
The incoming U.S. House of Representatives has changed the name of the former Horticulture and Organic Sub-Committee to the Horticulture and Nutrition Subcommittee, dropping the name organic. While speculation abounds as to the reason for the change, proponents of local organic food systems are concerned what this may mean for the future initiatives of the committee on behalf of pesticide-free foods in the U.S.