Climate change in Google Earth

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | 10:17 AM

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We wanted to share a recent story about an organization who used a savvy combination of resources to bring awareness to their cause.

The exciting thing about the strategy employed by the Coal River Mountain Wind Project is how they combined highly relevant Google tools to get their message across.

When working on your own organization's strategies, we'd like to encourage all of you to focus on using the tools most relevant to your message and seek out new ways to get your story to those who can help you achieve your mission.

Follow the links in the article below to learn more about the tools used by Coal River Mountain Wind Project.

Last Mountain Standing: Coal River Valley Residents Fight for Wind Farm

The last intact mountain in West Virginia's Coal River Valley is slated for mountaintop removal coal mining. Local residents have other ideas.

The following post was written collaboratively between YES! Magazine, Appalachian Voices, and the Coal River Wind Project, based on an article which appeared in YES! Magazine on November 24, 2009
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A mountaintop removal coal company has begun to demolish the last intact mountain in West Virginia's Coal River Valley. Residents are demanding a wind farm instead.

Massey Energy, the fourth largest coal company in the U.S., has plans to level 6,000 acres of Coal River Mountain and its pristine hardwood forest.

Coal River Mountain is a place that inspires countless stories and where locals have enjoyed hiking, hunting, and gathering ginseng and morel mushrooms for generations. It’s also a top-rated potential site for the production of wind energy.

Lorelei Scarbro's property borders Coal River Mountain. She was born and raised in West Virginia and her father, grandfather, and husband were all coal miners. She lives in a house her husband built, next door to the family cemetery where he is buried. As Massey continues to blast, everything, including her life, is at risk.

Lorelei and others in her community have rallied behind an alternative to mountaintop removal—a 328 megawatt wind farm. The group formed the Coal River Mountain Wind Project and commissioned a study which found that a wind farm on the mountain would provide $1.7 million in annual revenue and create skilled labor jobs for the community.

Coal River Wind also teamed up with Appalachian Voices and Google Earth Outreach to create an interactive Google Earth tour and an accompanying video of the mountain's plight. The tour will be on display at the United Nations Climate Change Conference from December 7-18, 2009, as well as the Google COP15 site.

"Google Earth has made it possible for us to show the world that this mountain is a symbol of hope," Lorelei said. "If we can save this mountain and begin developing sustainable jobs and renewable energy, maybe we can have an impact on the climate crisis that faces us all."

The news of the blasting is hardly unique in a region where, each week, mountaintop removal coal mining operations detonate an amount of explosives equivalent to that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Obliterated mountaintops are pushed into neighboring valleys, burying headwater streams and contaminating drinking water with heavy metals. To date, a staggering 500 mountains have been destroyed, and over 2,000 miles of headwater streams have been buried and polluted.

The force of the explosions are so powerful that they shake houses throughout the valley. Less than 100 yards from the blasting site lies Massey's immense earthen Brushy Fork Impoundment; at 954 feet tall, it is the largest lake of coal sludge in the Western Hemisphere, containing 8.2 billion gallons of toxic waste. If the impoundment fails, Massey itself estimates that almost a thousand people would lose their lives.

A lot of people have asked Lorelei, "Why don't you move?" Her response is, "We don't live where they mine coal. They mine coal where we live."

Coal River Mountain Wind Project is hosting a demonstration on Dec. 7 in Charleston, W.Va., to save Coal River Mountain.

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Jed Grubbs wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Jed works with Appalachian Voices, a non-profit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia that works to stop mountaintop removal.