Crowdsourcing Data to Tackle Pollution
Exactly five years ago this month, an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico leaking an estimated 134 million gallons of crude oil and four million pounds of natural gas into surrounding marine habitat. The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster as it was later known, was the largest oil spill of its kind, killing and injuring countless marine animals, shorebirds, sea turtles and other wildlife.
At the time of the oil spill, locals accused BP of ‘information blackout’ and were concerned that they were not able to document the true impact of the incident on their environment.
“People would come across residues on the beach or dead fish and animals,” explains Jeff Warren who witnessed the aftermath of the oil spill. “So we were literally googling ‘how do you identify (polluting) oil’,” he adds.
In response, a small group of mapping enthusiasts got together and started using low-cost balloon and kites to take aerial images of the spill and also to test samples using DIY spectrometers. And so Public Lab was born.
Holding up a sample collected at the oil spill site in Louisiana, Jeff Warren, a founding member of Public Lab explains that the idea was to “come up with a cheap and quick technique to analyse this without having to rely on expensive testing or a laboratory.”
Today, Public Lab has grown into a global movement that is creating and fine-tuning a series of inexpensive tools that can be used to monitor and assess environmental hazards. It had even helped gather evidence used to bring polluters to justice.
Join Juliana Schatz in New Orleans, Louisiana to see how open-source and DIY technology is helping locals fight back again polluters.
Saving Rare Species in the Seychelles
We are losing species across all parts of our ecosystem at a thousand times the natural rate.
Within this loss of biodiversity are species that are often extremely unusual in the way they look, live and behave, and that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history.
The Zoological Society of London has set up the EDGE of Existence programme,which highlights and conserves one-of-a-kind organisms that are on the verge of extinction.
From frogs that give birth through their skin to mammals that are immune to cyanide – they are species unfamiliar to most of us and in urgent need of conservation attention.
Ndoni Khanyile travels to the Seychelles to help EDGE researchers track down some of the world’s most unique species and look at what is being done to help protect their habitats.