When we think of deepfakes, we tend to imagine AI-generated people. This might be lighthearted, like a deepfake Tom Cruise, or malicious, like nonconsensual pornography. What we don’t imagine is deepfake geography: AI-generated images of cityscapes and countryside. But that’s exactly what some researchers are worried about.
Specifically, geographers are concerned about the spread of fake, AI-generated satellite imagery. Such pictures could mislead in a variety of ways. They could be used to create hoaxes about wildfires or floods, or to discredit stories based on real satellite imagery. (Think about reports on China’s Uyghur detention camps that gained credence from satellite evidence. As geographic deepfakes become widespread, the Chinese government can claim those images are fake, too.) Deepfake geography might even be a national security issue, as geopolitical adversaries use fake satellite imagery to mislead foes.
A group of energy-efficiency organizations has launched an online tool designed to help U.S. workers research career paths in the booming field of green building.
The interactive Green Buildings Career Map highlights career opportunities in building energy efficiency, with 55 jobs across four industry sectors, as well as over 300 potential advancement routes. It was developed with input from industry subject matter experts to help interested candidates learn about quality jobs related to energy efficiency in buildings.
The initiative, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office, was designed to foster a robust and inclusive pipeline of qualified workers to meet employer demand, said Larry Sherwood, CEO of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, one of its developers. “This is crucially important to sustaining the rapid growth of this important industry and ensuring the benefits of employment in this sector are accessible to more people,” he said in a release.
A new tool that measures the environmental quality of any urban street in Canada — and maps it out in colour — illustrates vividly the many neighbourhoods in the country that have poor environment scores, neighbourhoods that are often home to racialized communities.
Wind power, solar power and energy storage projects are providing new economic opportunities for rural Texas counties, bringing needed diversification, economic development, job creation and multi-generational revenue through a growing property tax base and payments to landowners.
That’s the key takeaway of CleanPowerPays.org, a new interactive website launched this week by the Advanced Power Alliance (APA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with the University of Washington, announces new interactive mapping tools to help utilities improve environmental health equity as they transition to cleaner energy generation. These tools identify communities in Washington that are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution and vulnerable to climate change impacts so that these inequities can be addressed.
The new tools provide utilities with localized data on the environmental, health and climate risks communities face, supporting decisions that advance environmental justice in the state’s shift away from fossil fuels.
DOH analysis shows that 54 out of 64 electrical utilities in Washington contain communities highly impacted by fossil fuel pollution and other risk factors. Utilities will use these data to address inequities as they transition to cleaner energy sources.
Communities are “highly impacted” if they rank a nine or a ten on the Environmental Health Disparities map. This map captures exposure to pollution, fossil fuels, and other environmental hazards as well as social vulnerability factors such as income and race. Added to the map are new climate projections which show distribution of risks from climate change, which will help guide utilities’ efforts.
The Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2019, focuses on making energy cleaner and healthier. One component of that process requires DOH to identify communities that are unfairly burdened by environmental risk factors and climate change impacts. Utilities, under the guidance of the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), will use this information to ensure the benefits of transitioning to green energy are more equitably distributed across communities.
“Having accurate, community-level data about environmental risks is critical to inform decisions by policymakers on funding priorities, environmental policy and strategies to help communities disproportionately impacted by pollution,” said Dr. Jeremy Hess, director of the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE). “This work is part of CHanGE’s mission to promote the health benefits of climate action and support key decisions in climate change mitigation and adaptation. We are committed to working with our partners to build on these tools going forward,” Hess said.
“This is one step toward helping our communities whose health is most impacted by environmental concerns, by focusing resources to help them with the transition to clean energy in Washington,” says Environmental Public Health Senior Epidemiologist Jennifer Sabel.
DOH will host a webinar for utilities and the interested public illustrating how to use the tools on Tuesday, March 16 from 1-2:30 PM. Click here to register.
CETA commits Washington to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
The climate projection data is the result of a collaboration between DOH, CHanGE, the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and the UW Climate Impacts Group.
Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) have developed the new American Crayfish Atlas, the first website to provide nationwide coverage of crayfish distributions, showing where crayfish species have been found and the extent of their ranges.
When using the American Crayfish Atlas, viewers can select specific species to find their range across the U.S., select information for a particular state, and use zoomable maps to learn which crayfish species are in their area.
Prior to the atlas, those seeking information on crayfish distributions might have discovered that the information found online is either difficult to find or is state-specific, making it hard to realize species’ full ranges.
“There was an obvious need for readily available crayfish distribution data for the entire U.S., not only for professional biologists, but also for the public to see which species were found within 10 miles of where they live,” said INHS curator Chris Taylor, who envisioned and then co-developed the atlas with one of his graduate students.
The atlas contains more than 43,000 records, gleaned from the INHS crustacean collection and from over 50 sources, including museums and the research literature and various institutions and state agencies, whose information had not been cataloged or made visible online.
Taylor and graduate student Caitlin Bloomer have ensured that the website data have been quality controlled. In developing the site, they looked for possible misidentifications, outdated taxonomy, and other errors in the historical data, such as wrong numbers in geographic coordinates that would indicate the incorrect location or the wrong species name. This process continues as they add records.
“Crayfish taxonomy has been changing rapidly in the last decade or so, with several new species described in the last few years,” Bloomer said. “This means that you must look through every Excel file that comes in and make sure all the scientific names have been updated.”
The atlas is particularly valuable for researchers and state and federal management agencies involved in making crayfish conservation assessments, Taylor said. One of the primary criteria to evaluate the species of greatest conservation need is the total extent of their range.
With the atlas, groups and agencies can quickly and accurately determine the ranges for various crayfish species. The site will also assist researchers in their crayfish studies and provide information for anyone who would like to know which species of crayfish may be found in an area or which species they might have seen while outdoors.
“Hopefully, the atlas will help spark research interests and garner more interest in these charismatic little crustaceans,” Bloomer said.
The Mapping Inequality Project created a foundational resource for unprecedented research, education, organizing, and policy advocacy on redlining and current environmental challenges. It provides publicly accessible digitized versions of redlining maps for about 200 cities. This has already generated an explosion of trailblazing work in the area of environmental justice (EJ) and systemic racism. Two of its founders will discuss the genesis, philosophy, methodology, and impact of this game changing project.
Dr. Robert Nelson, Director, Digital Scholarship Laboratory, University of Richmond
Dr. LaDale Winling, Associate Professor of History, Virginia Tech
Moderated by Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice, EPA
Background: The EJ and Systemic Racism Speaker Series will illustrate how addressing systemic racism is highly relevant to the missions of EPA and other environmental agencies. Understanding and addressing systemic racism and the roots of disproportionate environmental and public health impacts is key to integrating EJ in environmental policies and programs and achieving environmental protection for all people. We can all learn from the highly substantive and inspiring work already taking place in this arena across the nation. The objectives of this speaker series are:
Provide information on cutting-edge work in science, policy, and practice to strengthen the evidentiary link between historical inequities and current environmental conditions;
Inspire leaders and staff in government, communities, academia, business and industry, and civil society to think about how systemic racism relates to their own work by hearing from leading national policy experts, researchers and practitioners;
Align government leaders and staff with the leading work taking place in this area and create a cohesive environment for fruitful partnerships; and
Create intellectual ferment about dealing with systemic racism in a rigorous manner so that EPA and other environmental agencies can overcome their historical aversion to talking about race and systemic racism.
We begin this series with a set of five sessions that thoroughly examines the relationship of redlining and current environmental disparities. The recent National Center for Civil and Human Rights webinar (below) on EJ, redlining and the climate crisis provides a good overview of this subject. Future speakers will be:
Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, Science Museum of Virginia, and Dr. Vivek Shandas, Portland State University, on a study correlating redlining maps with current location of urban heat islands (April 2021)
Cate Mingoya, Groundwork USA, Victor Medina, Groundwork Hudson Valley, and Melissa Guevara, Groundwork Richmond, Virginia, on application of this information in community organizing and policy advocacy (May 2021)
Yana Garcia and Jaimie Huynh, California EPA, on CalEPA’s work on redlining and pollution (June 2021)
Roundtable Discussion: Enhancing multi-disciplinary and multi-sector collaboration to address redlining and current environmental disparities (July 2021)
Future topics will include: Title VI and civil rights program, EJ research and analysis, rural inequities, and others. Suggestions are welcomed. Registration information for each session forthcoming. For information, contact Charles Lee (email@example.com) or Sabrina Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Sustain Springfield Green Map is a user-friendly, GIS-based, online tool that guides residents, visitors, organizations and businesses to sustainable or environmentally-friendly services, sites, and amenities.
The Sustain Springfield Green Map is a project of the Urban Action Network which provides direction and operational support. The initial map was created by Jordan Lahey, a Lincoln Land Community College GIS student at the time. The Map is hosted by LLCC under the guidance of Geography Professor, Dean Butzow and is maintained as an in-kind service by LLCC GIS Instructor, Rey de Castro. The project was originally supported with a seed grant from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.