Googling Pollution Hotspots & the Lost Great Wall

At Smart Planet, Tom Hancock reports on the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs’ use of Google Maps to catalogue pollution cases:

A crowd of blue markers covering the map show the location of each firm, and the markers can be clicked on to access pollution reports. The map is partly about “naming in shaming” polluters, who can have their names removed from the database if they pass an independent environmental audit ….

The pollution map isn’t totally comprehensive. Most of the data is gathered from government documents, which are “far from complete,” according to a recent IPE report. The NGO’s work has mostly focused on electronics multinationals with suppliers in China, but pollution from Chinese manufacturers who supply Western clothing brands are next on the NGOs target list, Collins said.

Google Earth, meanwhile, helped British explorer William Lindesay rediscover a far-flung fragment of Great Wall in the Gobi Desert. From Malcolm Moore at The Telegraph:

“I have been looking at this area since 1997, when a friend gave me a copy of an atlas showing the red lines of Genghis Khan’s attacks and counter-attacks, and underneath those are the strands of wall,” he said.

However, when he began making enquiries about sections of wall in Mongolia, he was repeatedly told that no structures had survived.

Eventually a Dutch historian mentioned a retired Mongolian geographer, Professor Baasan Tudevin, who had travelled extensively through the Gobi desert.

“The problem was that we could not find him. Eventually, as a last resort, we put a notice in the newspaper. And a couple of hours later, he turned up, wearing all the medals he had been awarded for his work. He told us there were various structures in the desert, and we could look for them using Google Earth,” he said.

See also Lindesay’s own Wild Wall site, and more on Lindesay and the Wall from National Geographic Adventure and Smithsonian.org.