Satellite Images for Justice

Scientists at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide use Google Earth to “ground truth” environmentally destructive proposals across the world, writes Camilla Mortensen in today’s Eugene Weekly.

“Sitting in front of his computer at ELAW’s offices in Eugene, staff scientist Mark Chernaik uses Google Earth to swoop in on proposed hydropower projects in Veracruz, Mexico; a hazardous waste facility in Gujarat, India; a levy in Jamaica and myriad other ecologically problematic proposals all over the world.

“Chernaik, fellow staff scientist Heidi W.  Weiskel and environmental research scientist Graciela Mercedes Lu all have stories of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that attempt to gloss over just how much damage a project might do.  Ground truth in the environmental sense is using data and observations from the field to prove or disprove claims about a project…

“In a typical case, Lu says, a developer will claim a mine proposal or a development is in “degraded” forest, and then ELAW uses Google Earth’s detailed images to reveal that in fact the land is not degraded at all…”

Read more about how ELAW has used Google tools in Mexico, India, Honduras, and the Philippines to tour proposed development sites, provide environmental analysis, and win victories for communities without costly travel associated with greenhouse gas emissions:

Eugene Weekly, October 16, 2014 Google Environment: Using technology to save the Earth

ELAW Advocate Google Earth for Justice

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director