Indigenous Groups Document Environmental Destruction Using GPS and Google Earth


The Washington Post had an interesting piece out of Nuevo Jerusalem, Peru today highlighting how the Achuar Indians are using new tools against Occidental Petroleum, a California-based company that they say has polluted their local rainforest ecosystem. One activist carries a digital camera, notepad and a Global Positioning System (GPS) transceiver donated by the civic group Shinai, to document water pollution.

Last spring, U.S. lawyers representing 24 indigenous Peruvians sued Occidental in a Los Angeles court, alleging that the firm broke the law by dumping toxic wastewater directly into rivers and streams, generated acid rain with gas flares, failed to warn Indians of health dangers, and improperly stored chemical wastes in unlined pits. The company, however, has denied all allegations, but the new photos and GPS data may serve as fresh evidence of the environmental havoc.Meanwhile, other groups in Brazil are using Google Earth for similar purposes. Peter Kostishack, a Colorado-based rights activist, uses the application to record coordinates and satellite images of rainforest erosion and post them on his blog. With help from the U.S.-based Amazon Conservation Team, Indians in the Amazon Basin have used Google Earth imagery to spot river discoloration caused by illegal mining operations. ::Via The Washington Post

:: See also our coverage on Using GPS to Track Global Warming
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