Articles by Corey McKrill
Corey is a freelance web designer and Grist alumnus. Follow
Somehow this isn't as much light-hearted fun as Sim Earth.
Back in January, Grist's InterActivist column featured John Amos, the head of SkyTruth. SkyTruth uses satellite photos and digital mapping technologies to reveal what is difficult to see from the highway: just how exactly we're changing our planet. Seeing a clearcut or a mine from a bird's-eye perspective often adds a visceral dimension to an otherwise rather abstract-seeming issue.
One especially useful application for this sort of imagery: showing the extent of the havoc wrought by companies doing mountaintop-removal mining. Recently a coalition of Appalachian grassroots organizations, ILoveMountains.org, released a series of overlays for Google Earth showing "before" and "after" landscapes in several heavily-mined regions.
What really boggles my brain is that some of the mine footprints are visible in a view of the entire eastern half of the United States.
Take a break from freaking out about the election and listen to this NPR audio clip about Whitman College's Semester in the West program. It's a biennial, semester-long environmental studies field course, with a heavy emphasis on public lands issues. If you have any passion about environmental issues, traveling, and/or camping, I guarantee this will make you want to go back to school.
(Grist featured Phil Brick, the professor in the story, as an InterActivist back in October 2005.)
I myself am an alumni of the program, and I'd say the audio clip is quite well done. It provides a good snapshot of what life is like during the semester and the kind of intellectual challenges students confront. As the narrator explains, students are "put face to face with people on all sides of complex issues. Students ask their own questions, and draw their own conclusions."
First there was the pack of squirrels that attacked and killed a dog in Russia. Now there's a group of "urban" raccoons taking out house cats in Olympia, WA. Apparently they even managed to carry off a small dog, although it survived the encounter.
What's next? Serpents that infest a jet airliner and viciously attack the passengers with poison fangs? (Woops, didn't mean to spoil any movie plots ...)
In other news, a Celebrity Cruises ship arrived in Seward, Alaska, last weekend with a dead humpback whale pinned to the bow.