The federal Data.gov, while not perfect, has grown over three years especially strong in datasets from federal agencies that deal with the environment, energy, natural resources, health, and science. Many of them are downloadable, so that you can crunch them on your own computer. Several are map layers or geo-tagged in some way. See a few randomly chosen examples here.
"They gathered in airboats off the northeastern corner of the Great Salt Lake shoreline. Above, clouds jostled in the vast Utah sky."
"At Wally’s Party Factory, a 32-store chain based in the North Texas town of Ennis, balloons no longer contain 100 percent helium — the total is down to 60 percent — and an additive is pumped in to help certain types float better."
"Kathy Omachi was eating at McDonald's in Reedley [Calif.] recently, and she counted 51 gravel trucks pass by -- all in the time she finished a hamburger and fruit smoothie. The lifelong resident of this farming town, which is southeast of Fresno and within a few miles of three rock quarries, fears that even more trucks, with their dirty exhaust, will be on the road if nearby mining is expanded."
"Large stretches of salmon-spawning streams and thousands of acres of wetlands would be wiped out if a large-scale mining project were to be built in southwestern Alaska's copper-rich Bristol Bay region, according to a report issued Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency."
"Biodiversity has decreased by an average of 28 percent globally since 1970 and the world would have to be 50 percent bigger to have enough land and forests to provide for current levels of consumption and carbon emissions, conservation group WWF said on Tuesday."
"The Obama administration is appealing a federal court ruling that scrapped U.S. EPA's retroactive veto of a large mountaintop removal coal mining permit in West Virginia, according to court documents filed Friday and [Monday]."
"You may think of surfers as slackers. But in Santa Cruz, Calif., they're city council members and business owners. And they're also conservationists — who just got their piece of the central California coast named a World Surfing Reserve."
"Long before surf music topped the charts and long before surfers had crazy nicknames, surfers have been riding the waves in Santa Cruz.
On a recent day, the crowd included 'Wingnut' — also known as Robert Weaver — and other surfers. He pointed out some friends: 'There's Frosty, there's Boots, there's Fathead.'
"The state of Wisconsin is no longer a hot bed for metallic sulfide mining, having its Legislature kill a bill in March that would have streamlined mining permit process in favor of mining companies. But it is one of the hotbeds for another type of mining, sand mining, a billion-dollar business."