The comprehensive study that involved all the geographies that we got to explore as part of these programs was incredibly formative for me.
David Manthos ’11 grew up in the Appalachian region known for housing the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., but his first introduction to Marcellus Shale came from an English professor at Bucknell.
Professor Alf Siewers was looking for students willing to examine the impact and complexities of drilling for gas in the massive Marcellus Shale region that stretches from New York to West Virginia. Manthos, who had just transferred from Garrett College in Maryland, joined a small team of Bucknell students who would form the 2010 Susquehanna Writers Institute, a program in the multidisciplinary Stories of the Susquehanna Valley research project. Their role was to document how the resource-extraction boom was transforming the landscape and the nearby communities. From there, Manthos signed up for Bucknell on the Susquehanna, a domestic field study program that examined the natural and built environments of the Susquehanna River watershed, from Cooperstown, N.Y., to the Atlantic Ocean.
“The comprehensive study that involved all the geographies that we got to explore as part of these programs was incredibly formative for me,” Manthos says. “Since then, I’ve become completely consumed with keeping up with the details of shale drilling, not only in the United States but around the world.”
After graduating from Bucknell, Manthos served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Friends of the Cheat in West Virginia, and one year later was named outreach and communications director at SkyTruth, a nonprofit organization that uses satellite imaging and digital mapping to track environmental impacts of industry around the world. SkyTruth gained national recognition for exposing the severity of the BP oil spill in 2010 and recently made headlines when it announced that it had partnered with Google and Oceana to use satellite data analysis to curb overfishing.
Still in the prototype stage, Global Fishing Watch will be a publicly available service that will track fishing activity worldwide, almost in real time. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, nearly one-third of the world’s fisheries have been over-harvested, while 75 percent of the remaining areas have reached their sustainable limits. Global Fishing Watch’s technology will allow citizens and governments alike to monitor vessels in even the remotest of waters.
“We want people to be able to look up places they’re concerned about and understand what’s going on, what changes are happening there,” says Manthos. “We want them to be able to engage their friends and communities in stopping severe damage to the environment or pressing for better regulation and management of resources.
“We want to provide people with tools so they can understand the issues, make their own judgments and keep an eye on the planet. Because we can’t keep an eye on the whole world by ourselves.”