Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
There are many videos online showing the Maeklong Railway Market, but I'll share just a few. Clearly the 8 times a day runs like clockwork for the vendors, but as this other video shows, the 8 times a day that the trains go through the market an it becomes a tourist attraction. Locally it's called "Ta-Lad-Rom-Hoob," which means The Furled Umbrella Market. My students are usually quite shocked to see how this city market in Thailand operates and this video is a usefully 'hook' for lesson on population growth, urbanization, economic development, sustainability, megacities and city planning.
Questions to Ponder: Why does this system work in Thailand, but is inconceivable for the United States? How many spaces are single use spaces that remain empty most of the day? How does the both the train line and the market need to accommodate the other?
"How much does size really matter? Judging by this tiny home in France, not a whole lot -- as long as the space is functional.
Space in a home matters, but the functionality of that space is critical. Geography is about spatial thinking, and this video promotes a different type of spatial thinking, but one that still will help geographic thought. As our metropolitan areas get more and more crowded, planning of this type might become increasingly common. What advantages to you see in interior design that seek s to maximize space? What are some drawbacks to a design such as this?
"Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers. Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers."
"Don’t let my New York City–centric comparisons hinder your imagination. The interactive at the top of this page lets you visualize how different parts of the country compare in population density.
Click the button at the bottom of the interactive to select Los Angeles County, for instance, and then click anywhere on the map to generate a (roughly) circular region of (roughly) equal population. The population data come from the 2010 census, and the square mileage was calculated by summing each highlighted county’s total area. You can also use New Jersey (the most densely populated state), Wyoming (the least densely populated state outside of Alaska), Texas, the coasts (the group of all counties that come within 35 miles of either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans), and, yes, New York City as the baseline for your population comparison."
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
In the most innovative incubators of urban research, the lessons of Jane Jacobs are more vital than ever.
In the past few years, a remarkable body of scientific research has begun to shed new light on the dynamic behavior of cities, carrying important implications for city-makers. Researchers at cutting-edge hubs of urban theory like the University College London and the Santa Fe Institute have been homing in on some key properties of urban systems—and contradicting much of today's orthodoxy. Their findings have begun to feed into recent and upcoming gatherings on the future of cities—including lead-in events for the U.N.'s big 2016 Habitat III conference on sustainable development—and arming leaders in the field with new ammunition in the global battle against sprawl.
"Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people."
This video is one of my favorites in my placed-based geography videos collection. This skyscraper was once a symbol of wealth, and in an incredible paradigm shift, it has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. This NY Times article from 2011 still shows some great concepts on why informal housing develops and this PRI podcast gives us a 2014 update--that the Venezuelan government plans to clear the Tower of its residents.
As the sprawling Zaatari camp evolves into an informal city — with an economy and even gentrification — aid workers say camps can be potential urban incubators that benefit host countries like Jordan.
This is an intriguing article that explores the difficulties of forced migrations that arise from civil war, but it also looks at city planning as refugee camps are established to make homes for the displaced. These camps have become into de-facto cities. The maps, videos and photographs embedded in the article show the rapid development of these insta-cities which organically have evolved to fit the needs of incoming refugees. Size not investing in permanent infrastructure has some serious social, sanitation and financial cost, there are some efforts to add structure to the chaos, to formalize the informal. Truly this is a fascinating case study of in urban geography as we are increasingly living on what Mike Davis refers to as a "Planet of Slums."
There are only 650 major intersections here—but somehow only 60 traffic lights.
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and (as I often tell my students) it is the biggest city that nobody has ever heard of. The infrastructure is so incredibly limited that traffic jams cost the city an estimated $3.8 billion in delays and air pollution. This is an excellent article to explore some of the problems confronting megacities.
Without a question, we are living in an urban era. More people now live in cities than anywhere else on the planet and I’ve repeatedly argued that cities are our most important economic engine. As a result of these shifts, we’re seeing megacities at a scale the world has never seen before.
As our cities have massively expanded in the last 70 years, so has the ecological footprint of these metropolitan areas. This article discusses some of the challenges confronting megacities and their functions within the global urban network.
"Today, innovation is taking place where people can come together, not in isolated spaces. Innovation districts are this century's productive geography, they are both competitive places and 'cool spaces' and they will transform your city and metropolis."
As described by the Brookings Institution in their exploration regarding innovation districts, they are geographic areas where leading-edge companies, research institutions, start-ups, and business incubators are located in dense proximity. These districts are created to facilitate new connections and ideas, speed up the commercialization of those ideas, and support urban economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic position.
"In the above poster the cities are arranged (roughly, in order to maximize space) by population. Clearly, size and population are not directly correlated. Some cities take up a lot more space for a smaller population. The relationship between the two, of course, is known as density (population density, urban density)."
I shared this a while back, but the creator has since revised the data and updated the layout for the main infographic. The entire set of infographics are tremendous visual tools to compare urbanization patterns around the world.
Similar to Iceland, Australia's population is also highly clustered.
Questions to Ponder: Why is Iceland's population so highly clustered? What is it about the red (and white) areas on the map that explain this pattern? What other layers of information do we need to properly contextualize this information?
"As the world's cities undergo explosive growth, inequality is intensifying. Wealthy neighborhoods and impoverished slums grow side by side, the gap between them widening. In this eye-opening talk, architect Teddy Cruz asks us to rethink urban development from the bottom up. Sharing lessons from the slums of Tijuana, Cruz explores the creative intelligence of the city's residents and offers a fresh perspective on what we can learn from places of scarcity."
As a geographer native to the San Diego region with family on both sides of the border, I found this TED talk very compelling personally, but also rich in geographic themes (city planning, diffusion, governance of space, socioeconomic differences in land use patterns, etc.). Relations across the border are economic, cultural and political in nature, and the merger of those varied interests have led to an uneven history of both cooperation and separation. San Diego and Tijuana have more to offer each other than economic markets--the ideas born out of distinct socioeconomic and political contexts can be just what is needed on the other side of the border.
|Suggested by Renata Hill|
"Tracking changes in the shape of American cities over 10 years reveals which cities pack the most into a small space, but don't worry, sprawlers: Los Angeles shows you can change your fate."
Today’s nearly 314 million U.S. residents will expand to 401 million in less than 40 years. Wherever you fall on the cultural spectrum between country and city mouse, the fact remains that we simply won’t be able to use up resources the way we do now in sprawling suburbs shaped by car culture. See also this infographic depicting those with the worst sprawl. and CNN Money's list of the worst sprawl and a discussion of it's impacts.
|Suggested by Michael Miller|
Over the years, ISS astronauts have had a rare opportunity to witness climate change on Earth from space.
This video from National Geographic goes nicely with some of my recent posts about the dramatic changes that can be seen as some cities have exploded on the international scene. The changes in metropolitan areas are dramatically presenting using satellite imagery in this great teaching video.
"Mexico City is a giant laboratory of urban morphology. Its 20 million residents live in neighborhoods based on a wide spectrum of plans. The colonial center (above) was built on the foundations of Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire. The old city was on an island in Lake Texcoco. The lake was drained to prevent flooding as the city expanded.
I've conducted research in Mexico City, and am endlessly fascinated but this urban amalgamation. The city is so extensive that there are numerous morphological patterns that can be seen in the city, including the 12 listed in the article.
"Only 2% of Australia's population lives in the yellow area. "
Questions to Ponder: Why is Australia's population so highly clustered? What is it about the yellow (and white) areas that explain this pattern? How does this map of rainfall add to our understanding? What other layers of information do we need to properly contextualize this information?
Just for fun, here is a Buzzfeed list that highlights the dangerous biogeography of Australia. Maybe this is why people aren't living in the yellow region.
The growth of these cities will create a host of environmental and health problems.
By 2210, the global population is expected to grow from just more than 7 billion to 11.3 billion — with 87 percent of the population living in urban areas, according to a new working paper by researchers from NYU’s Marron Institute.
Most of these individuals will be in what’s now the developing world — creating a host of environmental and health problems.
If projections are correct, these new urban dwellers will require the world’s existing cities to expand six-fold to accommodate triple the residents, Richard Florida wrote in The Atlantic. Plus, the world will need 500 new “megacities” of 10 million or more, he wrote.
The Maldives is a small country in the Indian Ocean composed of 1,200 islands. Virtually every spot in this country is under 8 feet in elevation. Pictured above is the capital of Malé, which has the largest population (explore these islands on a variety of scales).
Questions to Ponder: What physical forces and processes account for the presence of these islands in the Ocean? In a geological time scale, what does the future hold for these islands. What would be the main economic assets of the Maldives? What would be the main economic and environmental concerns of this country?
"This is a series of infographics (or geo-infographics) created by Matthew Hartzell, a friend of mine that I met when we were both geography graduate students at Penn State in few years back..."
"Drawing on data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the map shows one dot per person, color-coded by race. That's 308,745,538 dots in all."
This is an incredibly gorgeous interactive map of population density in the United States. It is very reminiscent of this North American Map with two major differences. On the down side, Mexican and Canadian data are not displayed but on the bright side, the added color component is used to show ethnic categories as defined by the 2010 U.S. census. Please explore this map at a variety of scales and in distinct locales.
Questions to Ponder: Is this a map of ethnic diversity patterns or is it a map of racial segregation? How come? Is there additional information that you would need to decide? This review of the map on Wired and Atlantic Cities described this map as a map depicting segregation: why would they say that?
"[This map's] an unabashedly generalized interactive population density map inspired/stolen from a map by William Bunge entitled Islands of Mankind that I came across on John Krygier‘s blog. I thought Bunge’s map was a novel way to look at population density, and I’ve tried to stay close to the spirit of the original."
At NCGE this week, I was pleased to hear a presentation from Alexander Murphy, a giant in the academic world. He shared this interactive map from Derek Watkins, which is the best map I've ever seen to teach global population distribution patterns. It is removed all extraneous information and allows the user to focus on the areas of heavy settlement and limited population. The map can show regions that are settled at densities from 15 to 500 people per square mile; the changes at various densities are visually staggering and powerfully telling. I've shared some other maps that would work very nicely together with this in a lesson on global population settlement patterns.
"In the end of 2012 I travelled to USA to experience something new. And it was something I didn't expect: emptiness and density. 'Merge' is the last part of a project series 'Empty, Dense, Merge' which explores two opposite feelings through the photos of places located in USA. In this project two opposite places are merged into one: New York City, where, it seems like everyone wants to live there, and Grand Canyon / Death Valley, which are unlivable."
This is geographically inspired art at it's finest. It goes beyond making beautiul jewelry with maps or showing majestic vistas of natural landscapes; the artistic concept that motivated the photographer was geographic in nature. Population density is highly clustered leaving great spaces of open, empty, unpopulated land and some major cities that are jam-packed with human activity and settlements. Merging both of these concepts into the same image produced this series of 6 images (as seen in this Atlantic Cities article).