This morning, in the Huffington Post, Robert Kennedy Jr. shared a great example, of how technology can be used as a tool, to help us take personal responsibility for our share of a global environmental problem. His article about ‘Coal’s True Cost‘, is not just a denounciation of coal mountaintop removal practices, but also a celebration of ingenious web technology:
‘Well now you can visit coal country without ever having to leave your home. Every presidential candidate and every American ought to take a few seconds to visit an ingenious new website created by Appalachian Voices, that allows one to tour the obliterated landscapes of Appalachia. And it’s not just Arch Coal, Massey Coal and their corporate toadies in electoral politics who are culpable for the disaster. The amazing new website allows you to enter your zip code to learn how you’re personally connected to the great crime of mountaintop removal. Using this website Americans from Maine to California can see these mountains and the communities that were sacrificed to power their home. The tool uses Google Maps and Google Earth as interfaces to a large database of power plants and mountaintop removal coal mines. A November 15, 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the site as one of the most innovative, cutting-edge uses of these powerful tools. The site puts a human face on the issue by highlighting the stories of families living in the shadows of these mines.’
I tried it, and it showed how I am a passive accomplice of coal mountaintop removal in four sites in the Appalachian Mountains. The least I could do, was to sign the petition to stop these practices. The picture of the US map, with the arrow linking me to those four dots on the other side of the country, is quite powerful. Another example of the power of images to induce attitude shifts and behavioral changes.