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M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
Dr. Tighe has a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences, a graduate degree in Remote Sensing and GIS, and a B.Sc. in Physics and Geology. Dr. Tighe has delivered lectures ranging from a half day workshop to a 4 week training program to over 2000 participants in USA, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, … More »

Geospatial data saving the planet?

 
October 22nd, 2013 by M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD

Perhaps a dramatic title for today’s blog, but an interesting article from the World Wildlife Fund that I read on Friday has been on my mind all weekend. The gist of the newsletter topic was to investigate how we can produce more with less water and pollution by working with 100 companies and just 15 raw materials (or commodities). If that tagline tweaked your interest, I bet Jason Clay’s speech on this topic would more than get you to where I was on Friday, thinking about this topic for a few days.

As we geospatial users become knee deep in geospatial data, the web, the cloud, and analytical tools for a host of geospatial applications, I wonder how we respond to the type of thought process Jason encourages. I believe that in order to contribute globally, where geospatial data is used to save the planet, you must get every part of the food chain involved, so that an idea can be sustained over long terms rather than one offs. How may we use geospatial data to provide a better, sustainable carbon footprint for all? How can we get everyone to work together to manage the planet with a sense of urgency? To help preserve the planet, we need work together to preserve biodiversity as a starting point. Jason identifies 15 commodities that are produced in bio-diversity rich geographic locations. He also indicates that the top 100 companies control 25% of the trade of all 15 commodities. By working with 100 companies to promote and accept sustainably-derived commodities (which means they will force or push producers to act sustainably) we can start the process of saving our planet.

One company, Cargill, has funded research about how to double global palm oil production without further deforestation in the next 20 years. This is an important move in the direction of sustainable palm oil production, which may provide a compelling example for other companies to follow. Using remotely sensed data (imagery and elevation data) we can help to identify where degraded land of slopes less than 10 degrees already exists, and begin oil palm plantations at those locations. I urge you to watch Jason’s video and start a dialogue on how we geospatial users can assist in achieving a sustainable planet by helping to promote sustainable production of these 15 commodities.

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