By Tim Hjersted
Dec 4, 2007
I found out about the website from the great folks at www.worldchanging.org
. Here's the first part of the article:
A new Web-based tool allows U.S. residents to learn how their local electricity consumption may be linked to the destruction of landscapes in the Appalachia region of the eastern United States. With "My Connection," a feature from North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices, users can enter their ZIP codes and use Google Earth to view the decimated mountains from which their power provider obtains coal. "When you can show people they have a direct connection to it, it makes it that much more relevant to their day-to-day life," Mary Anne Hitt, the executive director of Appalachian Voices, told The Wall Street Journal.
The online tool uses mapping and aerial imagery to allow users to do a "fly over" of power production and coal mining locations around the country. It also helps Appalachian Voices campaign director Lenny Kohm answer the frequently asked question: "what's [mountaintop removal mining] got to do with me?" The relatively new form of strip mining, which involves blowing up all or part of a mountain to reach the coal seams below, is particularly harmful to the environment, miners, and local communities, the group says.
With the new tool, electricity users from as far away as California can be linked to mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. "When you look at a light switch on the wall, you think of it as a light switch, but this gives you a chance to look behind it," says Kohm. "Everyone who uses electricity is complicit in blowing up mountains."
The feedback Appalachian Voices has received on the new Web feature has been largely positive, according to Kohm. Many people's response is, "I never realized I had anything to do with this," he explains. The site also provides links for viewers to contact their legislators and power companies to protest mountaintop removal. "I would encourage everybody to use it as a resource, because we all have a responsibility," says Kohm. Mary Anne Hitt notes that using Google Earth to show the damaged landscapes of Appalachia has made her presentations to legislators, business people, and citizens much more powerful.
Read the rest of the article here