Perk Place Coffeehouse & Bakery, Duluth, Minnesota
September 12, 2017
Wrote a response to Safecast after nine and half months of searching for something worth doing with my life to follow up on an e-introduction from my friend Jud in Atlanta (Mr. Thorium Reactor):
Several months ago in January of this year I met Jud Taylor in an Atlanta, Georgia hackerspace. He and I connected about water quality monitoring and mapping via the same paradigm as used by Safecast after Fukushima. Initially, at that time I was looking at the issues around water quality in Flint, Michigan where lead toxicity was a problem for people. I abandoned the idea of going up there to start such a project for personal reasons. I ended up moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. While up here in Minnesota, I began to connect slowly with people who had been involved with the Standing Rock North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) resistance last fall. There is a very large Native American community in Minnesota with a strong interest in water protect post Standing Rock. We all agree that direct actions and protest did nothing to stop the building of the DAPL, but have come to the realization that it was the beginning of a new age of environmentalism and community engagement around natural resource protection. More than anything, I feel that the people in the Standing Rock movement want to be a part of efforts that can shine light on the public health risks of environmental toxins in an age where both government and corporate efforts to provide information to the public have withdraw from being legitimate. The deletion of climate change data from United States government websites is a glaring example of this overall trend. This is probably preaching to the choir.
Here in Minnesota there are two overlapping issues that the Native American and environmental community are organizing around. An oil pipeline from the Tar Sands in Canada called Line 3, and sulfide and metals (e.g. copper and nickel) mining. I am interested in working on building IT infrastructure for citizen scientist monitoring of chemistry associated with public health risks around these industrial activities. Right now, I am most interested in monitoring very simple analytes as I focus on building both a community network local and abroad around the idea of getting what has largely been a direct action movement to move towards citizen science monitoring of environmental data. The prevailing mood in the large big money nonprofits that support hardcore direct action such as the Climate Defense Project (https://climatedefenseproject.org/ — Berkeley, California) and Climate Disobedience Center (http://www.climatedisobedience.org/ — Salt Lake City, Utah) is that we need to move beyond these tactics to the tactics used by Safecast to actually provide hardcore data to the public in as real time manner as possible.
I am very interested in cloud based Internet of Things devices, mobile apps, and simple cheap hardware like the Safecast bGeigie Nano for pH, water conductivity, and metals sensing. Furthermore, devices that can allow citizens to rapid respond to a pipeline spill are of extremely high interest. Even something as simple as a data site for photography, and narratives from landowners is very valuable to legal efforts to support ecological protection. The trend of people to use sites like Facebook in these efforts is primitive and subject to the “fake news” phenomenon. Judging what is a scientifically provable public health risk versus hysteria can be very hard to decipher if one relies on these sources.
Fukushima actually is quite a good example of this, many people now will no longer eat fish because they think the reactor breach polluted the entire ocean. To what degree did it, and how will it influence long term ecological dynamics is a question that requires data over a long time. It needs citizens to collect it, and to be preserved for analysis by trained experts. All these factors influence my reaching out to you at this point.
Would it be possible for us to arrange a time to talk on the phone or Skype? I am considering traveling out to Japan next year, and would love to meet you all in person.
Thank you for the wonderful work you do and the example you have set with the efforts in Fukushima.
I hereby introduce William Erbil, a member of my current hackerspace, Freeside Atlanta. William is very interested in Safecast, and would like to undertake similar efforts with regard to chemical contaminants, such as lead in water. William will follow this email very soon with one of his own.
Thank you very much for your attention. I hope all is well with each of you.