Why We Went Down Yesterday

Yesterday you probably noticed that most of your favourite websites were down yesterday or had a notice up warning you about two bills in front of the American government. Those bills are SOPA and PIPA and essentially if these bills pass the internet would be all but dead to American citizens and beyond!

Here’s a video by the Kahn Academy explaining the bills:

So why is this on a website dedicated to good news? Here’s why:

Never forget that when people work together stupid policies and backwards thinking from old corporate powers (who are being replace by new and better technical solutions) can be stopped! Just look at how people also stopped the Keystone XL pipeline!

USA Can be 100% Powered by Geothermal Energy

Here at Things Are Good we like geothermal energy and countries that use it. The USA could be on the list in the future!

Researchers from SMU that have received funding from Google have released a map that shows the potential of geothermal energy production in the continental United States. The conclusion is that there is more potential energy in geothermal than previous thought and the technology exists today to access it and provide more than enough energy for the nation’s consumption on geothermal alone!

In this newest SMU estimate of resource potential, researchers used additional temperature data and in-depth geological analysis for the resulting heat flow maps to create the updated temperature-at-depth maps from 3.5 kilometers to 9.5 kilometers (11,500 to 31,000 feet).

This update revealed that some conditions in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. are actually hotter than some areas in the western portion of the country, an area long-recognized for heat-producing tectonic activity. In determining the potential for geothermal production, the new SMU study considers the practical considerations of drilling, and limits the analysis to the heat available in the top 6.5 km (21,500 ft.) of crust for predicting megawatts of available power.

This approach incorporates a newly proposed international standard for estimating geothermal resource potential that considers added practical limitations of development, such as the inaccessibility of large urban areas and national parks. Known as the ‘technical potential’ value, it assumes producers tap only 14 percent of the ‘theoretical potential’ of stored geothermal heat in the U.S., using currently available technology.

Read the rest of the article at SMU.

See Canada’s Environment in Google Earth

Tides Canada has teamed up with Google Earth to allow the world to see Canada’s precious environment using Google’s technology. Now you can visualize things like the boreal forest and the migration of many wild animals.

It’s one thing to say that the Canadian boreal forest is the largest intact forest ecosystem on earth, Ms. Moore said. Google Earth allows Internet users to “fly in and say, ‘Oh, here’s where the caribou migrate, here’s where billions of birds migrate and nest, here’s where the aboriginal communities live.’”

The Pew project was created in conjunction with the Canadian Boreal Initiative, whose executive director, Larry Innes, calls it a validation of the importance of the forests issue.

“It’s a very visual way for people to relate to an area that, for most of us, is not immediately accessible,” Mr. Innes said. Without Google, he added, a similar project would have been prohibitively expensive and difficult.

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has used Google Earth Outreach to depict the effects of climate change. Actor Ted Danson has advocated for the protection of oceans, and actress Sigourney Weaver has narrated a tour of the Amazon. A project that exposed the effects of coal mining on Appalachian mountaintops led to many of the mines being put on hold or stopped.

Read the rest of the article here.

Google Picks Up the Tab for Inequality

The New York Times is reporting that Google is going to start compensating its gay/lesbian employees in same-sex partnerships, for the tax charged on their partner’s employer health benefits; a tax which heterosexual married couples are exempt from. It’s a little thing, but it’s nice to see a corporation do something to right an injustice that has nothing to do with their bottom line.

So Google is essentially going to cover those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.

The company began to look at the disparity after a gay employee pointed it out, said Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations (also known as human resources). Google, by the way, says its benefits team seriously considers any suggestions on how to expand its coverage. “We said, ‘You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair,’ so we looked into it,” Mr. Bock said.

Read the whole article at the New York Times

Google Stops Censorship in China

Google has changed how it approaches its business in China due to China trying to spy on some gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. THey have removed censorship from their search engine so now you can search for “Tiananmen Square” in China and get the same results the rest of get.

It’s a good day for internet freedom in China.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Read Google’s announcement here.

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