Thursday, January 08, 2009

Green Army

The rich world abounds in environmental ideals but lacks biodiversity. The number of animals and plants that thrive in Europe and much of North America is only a fraction of those found in tropical regions. Too often people see environmental problems like climate change, deforestation, wildlife exploitation and loss of biodiversity as things that happen elsewhere—when in fact, developed countries have plenty to worry about: industrial and automotive pollution, the loss of marine life in their over-fished waters, the decline of songbirds in the countryside, and the effects of climate change on everything and everyone.

Could people get as motivated about the beetles down the road as the rainforest in Brazil? That is the hope of a new project in Britain called Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), which aims to mobilise the British population to become more engaged with nature. If the idea works it will create a small green army of ordinary citizens who will create community environmental reports and contribute to national surveys of soil, air, water, biodiversity and climate.

They will be armed with new tools designed for mobile phones to help them study and record wildlife, and share their findings with others. They will also monitor pollutants, rainfall and soils, and in so doing help communities to address local environmental problems. This is particularly relevant when it comes to measuring the impact of climate change.
Open source science meets cheap handheld technology. Cool.

via The Economist

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