Google Earth: Protecting Canada’s Coast

The Living Oceans Society is focused on protecting Canada’s Pacific coast from risks such as oil spills, salmon aquaculture and other industrial activity. As part of that, they’ve recently created an interactive map using the Google Earth Plug-in that focus on the oil risk for the coast.



Enbridge, operator of the world’s longest crude oil and liquids pipeline, is planning the “Northern Gateway Pipelines Project”, which would create two pipelines between Alberta’s tar sands and a marine terminal in Kitimat, B.C. Once complete, roughly 220 supertankers would sail the area waters each year.

The Living Oceans map is an attempt to show a massive amount of data expressing the risk to the North Coast if the project goes through.

Visitors can view photos and facts about ecological features like salmon streams and eelgrass beds, critical orca habitat and sea lion haulouts. Other layers show the human presence on the coast, such as areas important for sport fishing and log harvesting and the locations of past marine accidents. Also available are layers showing local opposition to the proposed tankers, including the proposed tanker ban area. Through it all run Enbridge’s proposed tanker routes.

Regardless which side you support in a fight like this, Living Oceans Society has done a great job of using Google Earth to support their side.

China targets illegal maps

Yes, it is not a mistake. Maps can be “illegal”. That is, only in countries that have in place a licensing regime – such as China. The aim is to remove from the web maps that have “political mistakes” (I presume it refers mainly to representation of borders and “territories”) and those that disclose State secrets (I remember this rule from the old communist country of my origin, where city maps had big holes where the industrial zones were located). Well, that’s one way to achieve consistency in mapping data across the whole country, just hope no one will have similar ideas in Australia!

What’s really interesting, are statistics quoted by the Chinese State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping: it “…uncovered 1,058 cases of illegal mapping services, including more than 30 relating to foreign organisations and military”, “…3,686 websites out of 41,670 web mapping service websites were found to contain political mistakes, and more than 200 websites were closed”. Mapping must be quite popular there, but that’s China. I wonder what would be the numbers for Australia (total websites of course, not closures!).

On a related topic, Chinese government is not the only one censoring online content. Google created this interesting map that shows world wide statistics about “Government requests directed to Google and YouTube” to remove content from services, or provide information about users of services and products.