"For Regional Geography, I ask that all my students take an online quizzes before coming to class because it is very difficult to intelligently discuss European issues if you don’t know the countries of Europe, where they are and what other countries are on their borders. Quizzes and knowing places doesn’t define geography, but if geography were English literature, knowing about places could be described as the alphabet–before you write a sonnet or critique an essay, you better know your ABC’s and basic grammar. Given that, I like the Lizard Point Geography quizzes, Sheppard Software quizzes and those from Click that ‘Hood; they are simple, straightforward and comprehensive."
A policy to deal with a record number of asylum seekers would deny permission to settle in the country to anyone who arrived by boat without a visa.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This article is about refugees from dangerous Arab countries like Iran and Afghanistan traveling to Indonesia with intent to seek asylum in Australia. This is an example of migration patterns being connected by culture. The refugees are able to travel to Muslim Indonesia and then attempt a dangerous sea voyage with the help of people smugglers to Australia to seek asylum because of that Islamic connection. Australia is now turning the refugees away to be resettled in Papua New Guinea to discourage the often fatal journey.
These photos of Lake Hillier and the other pink lakes are very interesting. I had never heard of this particular geological/geographic event and the vivid pink water quite beautifully contrasts with the green forests and blue ocean. It is also surprising that the nature of this particular pink lake is still a mystery, probably because it has not been thoroughly tested. I imagine the reasons for its pink hue are similar to the other pink lakes around the world. It is unfortunate that in one of the photos, a road was built right through one of the pink lakes.
Competing territorial claims have led to maritime disputes off the coast of Asia. See a map of the islands at issue.
This is an nice interactive map that allows the reader to explore current geopolitical conflicts that are about controlling islands. This is an good source to use when introducing Exclusive Economic Zones, which is often the key strategic importance of small, lightly populated islands.
This map shows a number of disputed islands off the coast of East Asia. These ownership of these islands would allow countries to extend their territory further into the ocean and grant them rights to any resources which may be under the ocean waters nearby. This political issue is one which driven by economics. Though the claims on these islands are not currently worth fighting over, if significant resources are found they could be, and a more powerful nation like China could flex military muscle to solidify their claim and other claimants would have to back down.
This article is about a railroad that is being built through Laos to connect China to Thailand. China has resource interests throughout South East Asia and trade interests in India and the Middle East. China had an agreement in place which had Laos footing most of the costs for the railway but it would see hardly none of the profits. The economic power of China holds a lot of sway, as there is a political desire within Laos to appease China at the expense of the Laotian people.
While the rainfall map offers a lot of explanation for why Australia's population is concentrated in areas of significant rainfall, it is not a complete picture. There could be a number of other factors contributing to the clustered population of Australia. Northern Australia receives significant rainfall, but is sparsely populated so there must be other reasons. A map with more topography would help as it could show mountainous barriers which would hinder expansion or major rivers on which civilizations thrive. Similarly, a climatic map could reveal areas which are tropical and less conducive to large populations of a more temperate climate.
........"Linking the Chinese pollution data to mortality statistics from 1991 to 2000, the researchers found a sharp difference in mortality rates on either side of the border formed by the Huai River. They also found the variation to be attributable to cardiorespiratory illness, and not to other causes of death."
High levels of air pollution in northern China – much of it caused by an over-reliance on burning coal for heat – will cause 500 million people to lose an aggregate 2.5 billion years from their lives, the authors predict in the study, published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This article and the accompanying resources describe the damage the pollution problem China has in its cities. China's economic desire to do things as cheaply as possible for the best profit margins has done significant damage to the air and now to its own people. By burning cheap coal to meet energy needs China has created a fairly toxic atmosphere in its Northern cities. The pollution is causing high rates of cardiorespiratory illness and even the government-controlled news can't keep quiet about the issue.
Multinational corporations are clawing market share from Chinese brands in their home market. In response, China’s automakers are pushing to preserve protectionist policies.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This article reveals surprising effects of economics and globalization. Chinese auto manufacturers, like most Chinese industries, are not known for their measures of quality. Surprisingly, American brands are becoming more popular in China. As the Chinese economy matures and more citizens have the money to buy cars, they are becoming increasingly interested in brands like Ford because the American car is seen as reliable, safe, affordable, and even trendy. This is an odd reversal as most Americans would apply those labels to Japanese brands or VW. The reversal could be a product of political or cultural stigma related to Japanese brands, but not American brands.
This article details a conflict over ownership of a small chain of islands in the East China Sea. Claimed by both Japan and China, there is a South Korean interest as well. The Islands themselves apparently have little value, but extending further into the Pacific is a means of testing the international community for China. The Islands allow those who own them to have a military presence in the area and, potentially for China, keep the American military further from its coast.
In September, China stopped shipping rare earths, minerals crucial to military, cell phone and green technologies, to countries around the world. A report from the Bureau for International Reporting.
This 2010 video shows how a primary sector economic activity is reshaping global industry. Green technologies are dependent on these mining resources and China is the world's rare earth 'superpower.' Many factories have relocated in China in part because of cheap labor, but also to gain access to these rare earths.
This New York Times video discusses China limiting rare earths exports. Rare earths are the heavy elements which are important components in many technologies as they are the best permanent magnets. By limiting the exports, or just completely denying a country like Japan, China sees two benefits. The first, the country gets to keep most of its rare earth resources for itself. China is on the verge of needing massive amounts of rare earths for its own people as the standard of living rises. Secondly, China is forcing many industries to open their factories in China if they want access to the rare earths China has a monopoly on, opening them up to Chinese taxes and tariffs.
This is an incredible video because of the shocking footage of blatant disregard for worker safety. This can lead to an interesting discussion concerning how China has been able to have its economy grow. What other ways has China (or Chinese companies) been "cutting corners?" How does that give them a competitive edge on the global industrial market?
This video shows a complete lack of concern for worker safety in China. The workers use the backhoe as a makeshift platform so one of them can cut the rebar suspending a massive piece of concrete from the side of the building. These kinds of shortcuts are the ways which China is able to keep a competitive edge in the world market. With hardly any regard for fair wages, worker safety, or worker rights, China is able to manufacture goods for prices no one else can compete with. Eventually, China will face opposition from its workforce as its industry matures and the government can either appease them or face revolution.
This article is about the sacred gathering which occurs every 12 years at the merging point of the sacred Hindu rivers. Millions of people bathe in the waters daily during the Kumbh Mela. This sacred physical geography causes a massive human migration and creates a temporary mega-city. The temporary city is an excellent way to experiment with the planning of mega cities which, as evidenced by the problematic physical and human geography of Mexico City, are often not planned so much as just they just expand to meet the needs of the time. Urban planning should be particularly interesting for the people of India as the rapid population growth will cause significant expansion in its cities.
In India, more than 800 million people will vote over a 6-week period.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This infographic and the associated article give an idea of the scale of India's elections. There are so many people voting, the elections take place on 9 days spread out over a month. The organization of elections on this scale must be incredible.
India likely faces a number of problems other than the gigantic scale of the elections. There are issues with illiteracy which must be addressed on its ballots. There are likely logistical issues for voters as well. I imagine many of the more remote rural regions have voters quite a distance away from the nearest polling station and for true democratic process, India should ensure that some of its poorest citizens have an opportunity to cast their vote.
Ethnobotanists help Micronesian communities preserve medicinal plant knowledge and resources for future generations.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This post is about preserving the cultural medical traditions of Micronesian islands. The article discusses how globalization, and the introduction of western culture to these islands is causing the centuries old cultural traditions to fade. Principally, the medicinal remedies derived from plants which were discovered over the many centuries by the inhabitants. There is a new effort to consolidate all this information, which was only passed down orally, into manuals so it may be studied scientifically. Many medicines are developed from plants, and the unique ecology of these islands could reveal a number of new medicines.
The insect is so large — as big as a human hand — it's been dubbed a "tree lobster." It was thought to be extinct, but some enterprising entomologists scoured a barren hunk of rock in the middle of the ocean and found surviving Lord Howe Island...
Island Biogeography is endlessly fascinating and provides some of the most striking species we have on Earth. The physical habitat is fragmented and the genetic diversity is limited. Within this context, species evolve to fill ecological niches within their particular locale. This NPR article demonstrates the story of but one of these incredible species that never could have evolved on the continents. In modern society, more extinctions are happening on islands than anywhere else as 'specialist' species are in greater competition with 'generalists.'
This article is an example of how the geographic isolation of islands provides allows for incredibly unique ecology. Additionally, it is an example of how globalization can have a damaging effect on these small islands. When rats were inadvertently introduced to Lord Howe Island in 1918, they wiped out the giant stick bug native to only that island, but somehow a small colony of the insect were still living on the small remnant of a volcanic island nearby. Rescued from extinction, ecologists must now find a way to reintroduce the insect into the wild, but will be met with resistance, not only from the rats, but from the people living on Lord Howe who understandably do not want a ton of gigantic insects climbing all over their homes.
Indonesia has the largest share of the world's mangroves — coastal forests that have adapted to saltwater environments. They play important environmental and ecological roles.
Mangroves play a key role of acting as an ecological buffer in coastal region that provide the area with resilience against tsunamis, hurricanes and other forms of coastal flooding. Their role in carbon sequestration is also vital as energy emissions globally continue to rise. So let's jump scales: how are global issues locally important? How is the local deeply global? How can stakeholders at either scale find common ground with the other?
The NPR report discusses how valuable the mangrove forests of Indonesia are not just locally important, but globally important as well. Locally, they provide protection from flooding and tsunami as well as being incredibly significant in the overall ecology of the area. Globally, the mangroves are incredibly efficient at reducing carbon dioxide compared to most other types of forests. The Indonesian people have an interest in protecting the mangroves for their own local benefits, but there is interest internationally in the mangroves as buying and protecting them allows for a country to earn carbon credits. The dilemma lies in that clearing the mangroves for agriculture is a large economic advantage, but ruins the environmental benefits. A balance needs to be struck with the international community to protect the mangroves for the world while providing significant economic benefits to Indonesia.
1) What is a hotspot? A volcanic "hotspot" is an area in the upper mantle from which heat rises in a plume from deep in the Earth. High heat and lower pressure at the base of the mantle facilitates melting of the rock. This melt, called magma, rises through cracks to the surface and forms volcanoes. As the tectonic plate moves over the stationary hot spot, the volcanoes are rafted away and new ones form in their place.
This video explains the geology of hotspots which are how many of the islands in the Pacific Ocean are formed. Convection of solid, hot material rises to the tectonic plate where it is trapped, heating the rock above to its melting point. The heat then forces the molten rock to the surface where it cools and creates volcanoes. Over millions of years, the tectonic plate drifts, but the hot spot does not, causing a series of volcanoes on the surface. The Hawaiian Islands were formed by this process, which is why the islands progress from large to small, with the smallest islands being the oldest, in the process of eroding completely away.
"Think of coffee and you will probably think of Brazil, Colombia, or maybe Ethiopia. But the world's second largest exporter today is Vietnam. How did its market share jump from 0.1% to 20% in just 30 years, and how has this rapid change affected the country?"
This article explains how coffee helped take Vietnam from a nation with over 60% poverty to below 10%. The economic benefits are significant, but a lot of damage is being done to the environment. Large amounts of forest has been cleared to make room to plant coffee, but the Vietnamese coffee farmers are still figuring out how to properly cultivate the crop introduced by French colonists. The farmers are overusing fertilizer and using too much water, damaging the land. In an example of economic drive influencing demographics, coffee is also causing forced migration of some ethnic minorities to make more room for coffee farms.
The video was made by an American who taught English in Japan. He explains there exists racism and discrimination in Japan. The Japanese tend to consider these as American problems, not ones which exist across the entire globe, including Japan. A sense of national pride and a fairly homogenous population mask any overt sense of discrimination which is why the teacher was targeted by nationalist Japanese who would rather deny the existence of the problems than acknowledge them.
For ages, the sea women of Jeju, off the southern coast of South Korea, have braved treacherous waters for their harvest.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This article describes the lives of haenyeo, or "sea women." These sea women, live on a small island called Jeju south of South Korea. On this island developed a tradition of women-led families where the mother was the primary breadwinner through "fishing" by free diving into the ocean to collect abalone, conch, and octopus. Globalization is having an effect on this cultural tradition which goes against the typically patriarchal Korean society. Jeju has become a popular tourist destination in the past few decades, and the daughters of the haenyeo are more interested in getting into the tourist service industry than continuing the practices of their mothers and grandmothers.
"China's one-child only policy and historic preference for boys has led to a surplus of marriageable Chinese men. Young women are holding out for better apartments, cars and the like from potential spouses...30 to 48 percent of the real estate appreciation in 35 major Chinese cities is directly linked to a man's need to acquire wealth — in the form of property — to attract a wife."
Tags: gender, folk culture, China, podcast, culture, population.
This article shows how the One Child Policy has skewed the gender balance in China. There is a shortage of young women and, in order to attract a wife, young Chinese men feel the need to acquire more wealth to gain a competitive advantage in a China with a surplus of men. This wealth grab is possibly fueling the housing market in China, but Chinese women are not seeing many benefits for themselves. The wealth of their husbands tends to be left in the husband's name, leaving women out of the growing economy of China.
There is another potential issue as well. The Chinese men are taking out loans to pay for inflated housing prices. If the housing market crashes, these marriage seeking men are left with significant debt for apartments which were overvalued to begin with.
At a new restaurant, expats find a taste of home and locals try foreign treats like fortune cookies.
Imagine living in China and missing Chinese food. It happens. American expatriates who grew up with popular takeout dishes like General Tso's chicken can't find it in China because it essentially doesn't exist here. Much of the Chinese food we grew up with isn't really Chinese. It's an American version of Chinese food. Chinese immigrants created it over time, adapting recipes with U.S. ingredients to appeal to American palates. Now, Americans living in Shanghai can get a fix of their beloved Chinatown cuisine at a new restaurant.
This NPR article is an excellent example of how migration and globalization affect food culture. The "Chinese Food" we think of in the United States is actually not what people eat in China. The food was modified significantly by Chinese immigrants to be more palatable for Americans and over time it became its own entity. Now, since there are enough Americans living in China, one restaurant owner is importing American-Chinese food back to China. This odd situation has Chinese people trying a foreign version of Chinese food.
A government-initiated redevelopment plan will transform one of the oldest neighborhoods in Beijing into a polished tourist attraction.
This 2010 video showcases one of China's urban transformation projects. Urban revitalization plans are not without critics, especially those who see the cultural transformation of a neighborhood they deem worthy of historical preservation.
This video explains how gentrification is alive and well in Beijing. The government has been tearing down old neighborhoods and redeveloping them into expensive touristy areas. The locals obviously hate the redevelopment since it has destroyed old historical parts of the city and forced their relocation. The government redevelopment is understandable because this is prime real estate near downtown Beijing and maximizing the economics of this area makes sense. Gulou is one of these neighborhoods and highly historic. Fortunately, it appears Gulou has been granted a reprieve from remodeling, but the gentrification of high value property in Beijing will likely never be done.
"We came to Sri Lanka with every intention of filming a video about an organic, fair trade tea farmer. That is exactly what we were planning when we set foot on the small tea farm of Piyasena and his wife Ariyawatha. What we didnt expect was to be so taken with the relationship between the two of them. What started as a farm story quickly turned into a story about love and dedication amongst the Ceylon tea fields."
This video is about a tea farming couple whose arranged marriage has been very successful. The cultural tradition of arranged marriage may seem oppressive to us, but there are a great number of them where the couple stays happy. In these cultures with arranged marriage, divorce is usually not a realistic option, so these couples are possibly more willing to cooperate to make their marriage work than in the United States, but undoubtedly many remain unhappily married.
This article is about Muslims in India masquerading as Hindu to get jobs. This is a little surprising considering how tolerant Hinduism is of other religions, but this is not so much a religious issue as much as it is a political issue. There is still a Hindu nationalist sentiment among many Indians dating back to the partition which is a part of why this religious discrimination exists.
Climbers of the world's tallest mountain report passing mounds of litter on the path and waiting more than two hours in "traffic jams" of inexperienced tourists.
Nathan Chasse's insight:
This article details the effects globalization has had on the world's highest mountain. Mt. Everest has become an improbably tourist destination since it was first scaled sixty years ago. The ease of travel along with other technological advancements and the popularization of the mountain has seen the area become crowded with people. The people are leaving behind trash and deforesting the area to burn the wood for warmth. Worse are the effects global warming is having on the mountain. The glaciers which feed the major rivers of India and Bangladesh are shrinking.
Despite the economic benefits of the tourism, the Nepali government plans to limit the amount of tourists who want to ascend the mountain to protect its environment.