Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Burning Man takes place at the end of August every year in the barren and remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The weeklong festival is described by its organization as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” Earth-bound photographers have chronicled the legacy of art, technology, design, and fashion at the event over the years, but we at Skybox wanted to know if we could capture the transformation of the city from space, with our constellation of SkySats. This is the result:
A full-fledged city of population 70,000, “Black Rock City” is built up in a matter of days, experienced for a single week, and disassembled just as quickly, leaving no trace."
Last week I posted about Burning Man, noting that the landscapes in this experimental culture are inherently ephemeral and fleeting. High resolution satellite imagery has captured the quick rise and fall of the Black Rock City. Perhaps the term 'rise and fall' might not aptly describe the formation and dismantling of a city of 70,000 people; it is more like the ebb and flow of the tide, certain to return again.
This video covers various topics important to mapping and satellite imagery (and a lesson from an APHG teacher on how to use this video with other resources). There is so much more to the world and space than what we can see see. Chromoscope, referenced in the video, simulates other forms of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum besides just visible light. This type of information is at the core of the science behind all of our satellite imagery. This video also covers many map projection issues and highlights online resources to understand map distortion including:
In this image-filled talk, Yann Arthus-Bertrand displays his three most recent projects on humanity and our habitat -- stunning aerial photographs in his series "The Earth From Above," personal interviews from around the globe featured in his web project "6 billion Others," and his soon-to-be-released movie, "Home," which documents human impact on the environment through breathtaking video.
I've linked galleries of the artistic, aerial photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand several times before. In this Ted Talk, you can hear what motivates his artistic vision and the global perspectives that he wants to bring to the fore. You can also watch the 90-minute video 'Home' that he discusses in the talk here.
Using aerial photographs that render imperiled landscapes almost abstract, Edward Burtynsky explores the consequences of human activity bearing down on the earth’s resources.
The Department of Commerce just lifted a ban on satellite images that showed features smaller than 20 inches. The nation's largest satellite imaging firm, Digital Globe, asked the government to lift the restrictions and can now sell images showing details as small as a foot. A few inches may seem slight, but this is actually a big deal.
As reported by the BBC, this change in the legal use of geospatial information could have a huge impact on many industries. Some are fearful that it could represent an invasion of privacy, and others see this as a way to harness new satellite technology to provide higher resolution data and improved data quality for researchers.
"With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites."
Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other. Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population? Satellite imagery can help answer these questions.
"NASA goes to the World Cup! Satellite imagery from each country playing."
Not that we need any extra incentive to view NASA's gorgeous satellite imagery, but now that the World Cup has entered the knockout rounds, it is the perfect opportunity to view selected images from the participating countries. This gallery of a dozen World Cup StoryMaps are but a few of the thousands of Esri StoryMaps that can serve as motivation to get your K-12 U.S. school an organizational account for ArcGIS online (then your students can make cool maps like these).
Artists, designers, photographers and activists share one image that encapsulates what inequality means to them.
This daily dose of satellite photos helps you appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things humans have constructed--as well as the devastating...
Have you ever seen the website, The Daily Overview? The purpose of the site is to share a compelling/ informative/artistic satellite image every day to get readers to view the world from a different perspective. This article about the site is nice summary of the project. Click here for another gallery of 30 perspective-changing images.
"The edge of the 4,000 square foot residence on Overlook Court was dangling about 75 feet above the rocky shoreline of Lake Whitney after part it it had already broken off."
Just because we build retaining walls, fences, storm drains and other features, it doesn't mean that erosion will stop being a major and consistent force shaping the landscape. I don't think they got their money's worth on there environmental impact statement, but I'm sure the real estate agent really sold them on the beautiful view. For more local news on this home, read and watch here, for stunning images, see here.
Questions to Ponder: Why do we build homes where we do? How is this different across cultures (hint-Brazil)?
"More than a billion people around the world subsist on a dollar a day, or less. The reasons differ but the day-to-day hardship of their lives are very similar. A book by Thomas A Nazario, founder of the International Organisation, documents the circumstances of those living in extreme poverty across the globe, accompanied by photographs from Pulitzer prizewinner Renée C Byer. Living On A Dollar a Day is published by Quantuck Lane."
Extreme poverty is defined by the World Bank living on under $1.25 per day. The geography of of extreme poverty highly uneven--two thirds of the extremely poor live in just 5 countries (India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and DR Congo). This photogallery seeks to to show the daily life and realities of those living in extreme poverty. This article from the Guardian argues that development should measured in human rights gains more than economic advancements.
Beaches are dynamic, living landscapes. The coast off of Chatham, Massachusetts, provides a prime example of beach evolution.
To quote coastal geologist Robert Oldale, "Many people view coastal erosion as a problem that needs to be addressed and, if possible, prevented. However, storm and wave erosion along the shore of Cape Cod has been going on for thousands of years and will likely continue for thousands of years more. It is a natural process that allows the Cape to adjust to rising sea level. Erosion is only a peril to property. If we build on the shore, we must accept the fact that sooner or later coastal erosion will take the property away.”
A new advertising campaign is seeking to draw attention to the gap between the wealthy and the poverty-stricken in Mexico by showing how they co-exist in disturbingly close proximity.
There is a wide economic gap between the rich and the poor and in the spatial layout of urban settlements. Often an accompanying tangible separation exists between the communities where these groups live. These images (captured by a helicopter pilot with a keen eye for iconic and cultural landscapes in Mexico City) show neighborhoods in Mexico where this separation does not exist. Collectively they are reminiscent of this famous photograph in Brazil that shows the uneasy juxtaposition of favelas and luxurious housing.
Questions to Ponder: What are these neighborhoods like? How are these two communities linked and separated? Compare and contrast life on both sides of the fence.
"A fisherman's cottage is described by real estate agents as a 'property not to be missed' but it is also just yards away from two nuclear power stations."
A photograph (or landscape, map, etc.) is not an innocent reflection of reality. They can be carefully crafted to tell a story which might reflect the bigger picture and your ideological framework--but it just as easily might obscure some important contexts and truths. I use these images at the beginning of the semester to discuss the bias inherent in our own perspectives as I try to infuse my classroom with a variety of lenses with which to view different regions (images found here).
"Muslims around the world celebrate the birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. His birthday is marked in way ways is different Muslim countries."
This is a great photo gallery, but I wanted to make a special note of this image. The caption for this picture says, "Egyptians watch as Muslims march on the street to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed in Cairo, Jan 13, 2014." Is this a representative group of Egyptians? What demographic group would we expect to see in the second story balcony? What does the architecture tell us about the cultural norms of the society?
I found this image on social media from a great geography teacher (link to his site--looking for APHG group activities? Try this). This picture taken at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Memphis, TN shows an intrguing linguistic combination that I had never imagined before. This is referred to as cultural syncretism, where two or more cultures or cultural traits combine together to make something new. Globalization and migration are making more cultural combinations than we've ever seen before in this human mosaic we call home.
With five satellites scanning the globe, DigitalGlobe has collected impressive imagery of planet Earth this year. Check out their top 20 images here.
View interactive before and after images showing the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused in Tacloban City, Philippines.
While the casualty counts may have been lowered, that does not lessen the devastation.
"If an urban population demands the freshest vegetables, they should be produced within a 24-hour field-to-table delivery zone. What, therefore, should be the highest and best use of agricultural land between Taiwan's two largest cities, Taipei and Kaoshiung, only 200 miles apart? The Lord of the Rings, a.k.a., Johan Heinrich Von Thünen, has the answer." 
This image and analysis comes from the blog "Geographically Yours" by Don Zeigler. He's a well-traveled cultural geographer and has been collecting great teaching images over his career and is now sharing them on this site. These pictures are great discussion starters and bell ringers to start the day.
A geographer and a biologist at Salem State University team up to curate a new exhibition, featuring confounding views from both satellites and microscopes
When I teach why scale is an important concept in geography, I say that depending on the situation a scientist might need a microscope or a telescope to properly understand a phenomenon. Most images give us enough context clues to help us determine the scale of the image, but this set of 15 images does not. So is it micro or macro?
From grains to grapes to cabbage and many other crops the harvest season has been in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere.
So few of my students have actual experience working on a farm and being part of the food producing process. This gallery of 38 photos around the world is a great visual to reinforce how important the harvest is for sustaining life on this planet. The picture above shows the a Hmong hill tribe woman harvesting a rice terrace field at Mu Cang Chai district, northern Vietnamese province of Yen Bai. The World Bank on Oct. 7 lowered its 2013 growth forecast for East Asian developing countries to 7.1 percent and warned that a prolonged US fiscal crisis could be damaging to the region.
"Charles Marville photographed Paris' transition from medieval hodgepodge to modern metropolis. Marville made more than 425 photographs of the narrow streets and crumbling buildings of premodern Paris, including this view from the top of Rue Champlain in 1877-1878."
This NPR podcast adds some great insight into Charles Marville's 19th century photography currently on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The urban transformations designed by Haussmann made Paris the global capital of modernity and the many cities around the world copied the principles of Haussmannization. A photographic glimpse into Paris before and during these changes that brought about social upheaval is a marvelous tool for an historical geographic analysis of urbanization.
Join me and National Geographic's Great Nature Project in exploring the great nature all around us!
Join National Geographic in celebrating the great nature all around us! Go outside and snap a photo of plants and animals you find. Upload photos with #GreatNature. Add #animal to animal photos. View photos from around the world at greatnatureproject.org.