In Bangladesh men desperate for work perform one of the world’s most dangerous jobs.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
In Bangladesh men desperate for work perform one of the world’s most dangerous jobs.
What happens to massive cargo vessels after they are outdated? There are tons of scrap metal, but they aren't
designed to be taken apart. The ship-breakers of South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are 3 of the 4 global leaders in recycling ships) risk much to mine this resource. This is an economic function that is a part of a globalized economy, but one than was never intended. There are major health risks to the workers and pollutants to the local community that are endemic in this industry that manages to survive on the scraps of the global economy.
The Great Green Wall initiative uses an integrated approach to restore a diversity of ecosystems to the North African landscape.
The Great Green Wall initiative is composed of 11 countries that are cooperating together to combat the physical and human geographic characteristics that make the Sahel one of the more vulnerable ecosystems in the world. This swath running through Africa is the transition zone where tropical Africa meets the Sahara. The Sahel is susceptible to drought, overgrazing, land degradation and desertification. These issues of resource management and land use transcend international borders so this "Green Wall" was created with the intent to protect the environment, landscapes and people of the Sahel from desert encroachment (as an aside, the Green Wall spatially corresponds nicely with the apocryphal Mountains of Kong).
The World Bank has produced a report entitled "Prosperity for All." In this, the extremely poor are defined as making less than $1.25 a day. Two thirds of the extremely poor live in just 5 countries (India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and DR Congo). This article from the Guardian argues that development should measured in human rights gains more than economic advancements.
Bill Gates introduces Mosquito Week on his personal blog, the Gates Notes. Everything posted this week is dedicated to this deadly creature. Mosquitoes carry devastating diseases like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
We might be more terrified of large-bodied predators, but mosquitoes are the main vector of some deadly diseases. Mosquitoes kill more people in 4 minutes that sharks do in an entire year. The distribution of mosquitoes is a critical component in the geography of development. This isn't just a nuisance; it's a matter of life or death.
While construction of Africa's largest hydroelectric dam continues apace, downstream neighbour Egypt is crying foul. Egypt's main concern is water security, as the country faces a future of increasing scarcity. Nearly all of Egypt's water comes from the Nile, and its population of 83 million is growing at nearly two percent annually."
85% of the Nile's water comes from the Blue Nile that originates in the Ethiopian highlands--it is the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has been working on damming since 2011. The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be located ocated near the border with Sudan (see in Google Maps). As stated in this BBC article (with a nice 1-minute video clip), Egypt and Sudan currently get the majority of the Nile's waters because of outdated colonial-era treaties that ignored upstream riparian states. This explains why Egypt is adamantly opposed to Ethiopia's plan and is actively lobbying the international community to stop construction on the dam, fearing their water supply with be threatened. Oil might be the most economically valuable liquid resource in North Africa, but water is the most critical for human habitation.
"On the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, little has changed in the global sweatshop economy. Workers are again trapped and burned to death behind locked exit gates."
One of the first industries to be impacted by what is today called globalization was the textile industry and the successive waves of globalization continue to alter the geography of the textile industry. This video shows how historical problems in the U.S. textile industry are seen today in countries such as Bangladesh, as does this interactive feature. The following paragraph is from a Geography News Network podcast / article that Julie Dixon and I co-authored for Maps101 about the Bangladeshi garment industry:
Many developing countries with the majority of their laborers working in agriculture welcome outsourced labor from the West. This is seen as a way to nurture industrialization, even if it is on the terms of trans-national corporations. Countless workers seek employment in textile factories simply because low pay is still an entry into the cash economy and it is one of the few jobs rural migrants can find when they first enter the big city. In such locations, Western labor, construction, and environmental standards are not priorities because the population’s basic needs haven’t been met, so the responsibility falls to the global companies—but their aim is to cut costs as much as possible to remain competitive. From its emergence in textiles back in the late 1970’s, Bangladesh in 2013 made $19 billion in the export-oriented, ready-made garment industry, employing 4 million workers, most of whom are women.
"Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (known as Gerd) is now about 30% complete. Once completed, in three years, it will be Africa's largest hydropower dam, standing some 170m (558ft) tall."
Located near the border with Sudan (see in Google Maps), Ethiopia plans to dam the Blue Nile before the water heads to Sudan and eventually into Egypt. As stated in this BBC article (with a nice 1-minute video clip), Egypt and Sudan currently get the majority of the Nile's waters because of colonial-era treaties and Egypt is opposed to Ethiopia's plan, fearing their water supply with be threatened.
"Here's how the United States looks when it is measured on the county level by the same standards used to rank countries by the UN, the Human Development Index. Five variables are taken into account: life expectancy, income per capita, school enrollment, percentage of high school graduates, and percentage of college graduates."
Often we treat countries as solid areas and miss many regional patterns; in part because we view global data sets that are at that scale.
Questions to ponder: what regional patterns do you see? What accounts for these patterns? What do you think other countries would look like with data at this scale?
"The breakthrough came in 1996, when a new class of antiretroviral drug called protease inhibitors was launched. These were used in combination with two older drugs that worked in different ways. The combination meant that evolving resistance required the simultaneous appearance of several beneficial (from the virus’s point of view) mutations—which is improbable. With a viable treatment available, political action became more realistic. AIDS had been a “political” disease from the beginning, because a lot of the early victims were middle-class gay Americans, a group already politically active. Activists were split between those who favoured treating people already infected and those who wanted to stop new infections. The latter were more concerned to preach the message of safe sex and make condoms widely available, so that people could practise what was preached. Gradually, however, activists on both sides realised that the drugs, by almost abolishing the virus from a sufferer’s body, also render him unlikely to pass it on. They are, in other words, a dual-use technology."
The article in the Economist points to the successes the international scientific community has made to minimize the impact of AIDS, but some doctors have wondered, "but what if AIDS didn't impact the wealthy and politically active?" In this op-ed, a doctor says that medicine is just for those that can afford it because many pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in developing treatments for tropical diseases.
The old labels no longer apply. Rich countries need to learn from poor ones.
BILL GATES, in his foundation’s annual letter, declared that “the terms ‘developing countries’ and ‘developed countries’ have outlived their usefulness.” He’s right. If we want to understand the modern global economy, we need a better vocabulary.
Mr. Gates was making a point about improvements in income and gross domestic product; unfortunately, these formal measures generate categories that tend to obscure obvious distinctions. Only when employing a crude “development” binary could anyone lump Mozambique and Mexico together.
It’s tough to pick a satisfying replacement. Talk of first, second and third worlds is passé, and it’s hard to bear the Dickensian awkwardness of “industrialized nations.” Forget, too, the more recent jargon about the “global south” and “global north.” It makes little sense to counterpose poor countries with “the West” when many of the biggest economic success stories in the past few decades have come from the East.
All of these antiquated terms imply that any given country is “developing” toward something, and that there is only one way to get there.
It’s time that we start describing the world as “fat” or “lean.”
"Changes in relationships can be hard to take. The economic bond between Latin America and Spain, its biggest former colonial power, is shifting as the region’s economies mature. Despite some ruffled feathers, the evolution is positive. After two decades in which Spain amassed assets worth €145 billion ($200 billion) in Latin America, last year was the first in which Latin American companies spent more on acquiring their Spanish counterparts than the other way around."
I am hesitant to use the term post-colonial since there are theoretical constructs that use that term to embody cultural hegemonic power structures. I'm simply using it to mean "after colonialism" because the power paradigm is shifting to the former colonies.
Hans Rosling explains a very common misunderstanding about the world. CC by www.gapminder.org
"A baby born today in Ethiopia is three times more likely to survive to age 5 than one born in 1990. This progress isn't a result of expensive international aid or the recruitment of foreign doctors into Ethiopia. Instead, the country has invested in simple, bare-bone clinics scattered around the country, which are run by minimally-educated community health workers."
This NPR podcast shows how local programs that target rural health can have a massive impact on key demographic and development statistics. This is great news-- infant mortality rates around the world have dropped from 46 deaths/1000 to 35 deaths/1000 in the last 8 years and local programs such as this one have been a major reason why.
Extreme weather increases salinity of water in coastal areas while excessive demand in Dhaka leaves dwindling supply
"In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called 'gendercide' or femicide."
Part of me hates to bring up this issue since it is so disturbing, but silence itself is a part of the problem. Just know that I don't bring this up lightly and I wouldn't share this with students of all ages. Read more on in the this topic in the accompanying article here. The filmmaker has explained why he was motivated to produce this, but not everyone thinks the message of the full documentary is fair and balanced.
Questions to Ponder (with a heavy heart): what cultural, political and demographic factors create the conditions where a situation like this can occur? What should and can be done?
Don’t Panic – is a one-hour long documentary broadcasted on BBC on the 7th of November 2013.
The visualizations are based on original graphics and stories by Gapminder and the underlaying data-sources are listed here.
Hans’s — “All time favorite graph”, is an animating bubble chart linking health and wealth which you can interact with online here and download offline here.
Population growth in an important topic that is connected to economic development. If you've seen Hans Roslings TED talks, this is an hour-long version of many of the same concepts and data visualizations. His Gapminder data visualization tool, it is a must see for geography teachers to show the connections between population statistics and developmental patterns--let students see the data. This is an article that looks at a different factor, arguing that overpopulation isn't the real issue.
"The AidData Center for Development Policy creates geospatial data and tools enabling development stakeholders to more effectively target, coordinate and evaluate aid. Funded through a five-year, $25 million cooperative agreement with USAID, the Center is a partnership between the College of William and Mary, Development Gateway, Brigham Young University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Esri."
This article in the Washington Post asks if foreign aid can make elections more competitive (spoiler alert: mapping the data at the sub-national level helps answer research questions like this). What intrigued me even more than the article was the mapping platform that it was introducing. AidData is a fabulous new mapping platform to access information about international aid, it's effectiveness and where it is needed and what current projects are being funded by U.S. AID.
Typhoon Haiyan was enormous and hit a 400-mile swath on the Philippines. The Philippines is a single country, but it is composed of over 7,000 islands; hundreds of islands are in need of relief aid, if not more. The islands are in an archipelago which naturally fragments the land mass and isolates the residents making transportation, utilities and communications logistically difficult even in the best of times. If the first few days after the typhoon, supply chains were cut off and many desperate people looted the sparse food resources available. The necessities to sustain life—food, water, shelter, medication and basic sanitation—are the all major concerns in the aftermath of the typhoon.
While the police are saying that order is being restored, the effects of flooding pollute water resources and increase the spread of infectious diseases because of the poor sanitation. The Philippines is gripping for an impending medical crisis from the spread of diseases in addition to the medical trauma that people suffered during the actual typhoon. Richard Brennen of the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that these geographic difficulties make the relief efforts in the Philippines more difficult than the 2010 relief efforts to help Haiti after the massive earthquake.
"In the last of a series of programmes exploring global population for the award-winning This World strand, Rosling presents an 'as live' studio event featuring cutting-edge 3D infographics painting a vivid picture of a world that has changed in ways we barely understand – often for the better."
This is a glimpse into the BBC's "Don't Panic-The Truth about Population" which will be airing November 7th. If you have never seen his TED talks or his Gapminder data visualization tool, it is a must see for geography teachers to show the connections between population statistics and developmental patterns--let students see the data.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Scandinavia is the place to be. This interactive map uses data that was compiled from an index to measure gender equality in health, access to education, economic participation and political engagement. The four highest ranked countries in the world, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden) are all in Scandinavia. Thanks to the Guardian Datablog, you can download all of the data in a spreadsheet to map on your own. This interactive map is excellent, but a more expanded series of maps concerning gender (in)equality in the world regarding the status of women can be found on the WomanStats project page.
Picture this: Tourists visiting one of your city's most prominent attractions are unable to see it because of smog, haze and a bevy of other airborne pollutants. What's the solution?
Pollution is becoming ubiquitous in our urban environments. If your primary concern is the environment, it is clear that this situation in Hong Kong must be changed. But what if the environment is not the concern of policy makers? What economic and planning arguments could you make in favor of a more sustainable course?
|Suggested by Deanna Metz|
Despite the gains, more Africans still die from Malaria even as the spotlight remains firmly fixed on HIV/AIDS.
A billion people worldwide live in slums, largely invisible to city services and governments — but not to satellites.
Most slums are systematically ignored by politicians and public utilities; squatter settlements are not built legally and they are treated as though they did not exist. Mapping these communities makes them visible, literally putting them on the map can be an important step to legitimize the needs and requests of these poor residents and grant them greater access to public, municipal resources.
We've all heard stories about the horrible air quality in Beijing (especially during the 2008 Olympics). Here's a picture of Beijing by Tom Anderson that I find riveting. The skies are obviously polluted but this image shows two competing cities that are vying for control of China's future. In the foreground we see a cosmopolitan capital that is sophisticated and technologically advanced, engaged in the great connections that come from industrial growth. On the other side we see the industrial city that is recklessly producing copious amounts of consumer products with little regard for the environment or worker safety that can be seen as the dirty side of globalization. Both images are true reflections of China in the 21st century and the tension between the two will be one of China's great issues in the foreseeable future.