"Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.
Related Article: http://nyti.ms/gSvOkM"
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.
Related Article: http://nyti.ms/gSvOkM"
The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal. Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era. While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.
|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.
Commerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions than some maps.
Occasionally these lists that say something like "40 maps that..." end up being an odd assortment of trivia that is interesting but not very instructive; but I am of a fan of these list produced by Vox. Not because they exhaustively explain the topic, but they give a strong visual introduction to a topic, such as this one on on the global economy.
"Henry Monterroso is a foreigner in his own country. Raised in California from the age of 5, he was deported to Mexico in 2011 and found himself in a land he barely knew. But the 34-year-old now supervises five employees amid rows of small cubicles who spend eight hours a day dialing numbers across the United States. He is among thousands of deported Mexicans who are finding refuge in call centers in Tijuana and other border cities. In perfect English — some hardly speak Spanish — they converse with American consumers who buy gadgets, have questions about warrantees or complain about overdue deliveries."
I have family on both sides of the line; sometimes the border can feel like and artificial an inconsequential separation, at other times it feels like to biggest reality in the region. This article provides just one intriguing example of how the border both unites and divides economies, peoples, and places.
"Daily oil production in the Bakken is approaching one million barrels per day, placing it in an elite group of only ten super-giant oil fields in the world that have ever produced that much oil at peak production. In total, nearly one billion barrels of oil have now been produced in the Bakken oil fields, and all of that oil production and related activities have brought the unemployment rate in the Williston area down to below 1% in most months over the last three years. For the most recent month – April – the jobless rate here was 0.9%."
As an oil boom has transformed North Dakota, the influx of oil workers has changed all the sectors of the local economy. Agriculture has historically been the #1 economic contributor in the region, but huge piles of grain aren't be shipped to the market, as oil by rail is much more profitable.
Questions to Ponder: Why is WalMart offering such high wages in North Dakota? What local factors impact the prevailing wage rate? What does this tell us about places with low wages? How does the oil industry impact all the others in the region?
In 1990, the manufacturing industry was the leading employer in most U.S. states, followed by retail trade. In 2003, retail trade was the leading employer in a majority of states. By 2013, health care and social assistance was the dominant industry in 34 states. This animated map shows the top industry in each state and the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2013.
"To be honest I do not know what they make of my beans," says farmer N'Da Alphonse. "I've heard they're used as flavoring in cooking, but I've never seen it. I do not even know if it's true." Watch how the Dutch respond to a cocoa bean in return or you can watch our entire episode on chocolate here.
What is the geography of chocolate like? This video was produced in the Netherlands, the global center of the cocoa trade, but the world's leading producer of cocoa is Côte d'Ivoire. There is a dark side to chocolate production; the dirty secret is that slavery is commonplace on cocoa plantations in West Africa. Although the worst of the situation is glossed over in this video, it still hints at the vast economic inequalities that are part and parcel of the global chocolate trade and the plantation roots of the production. What are some of your reactions to this video?
"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 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.
Report details deaths of 964 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh from cardiac arrests, falls and suicide
Qatar's population pyramid has a very distinct shape that you will only find in places with high migrant worker populations. This type of demographic influx is now common in oil-rich gulf states as the forces of globalization draw in pools of labor so countries like Qatar can now 'import' the low-wage workers needed to keep their economy rolling. The economic, cultural and political power imbalance between the classes leads to many migrant workers being exploited, leading to the social problems listed in this article.
Hamm said he was drawn to the true story of an agent looking for India's first pro-baseball player
This 6 minute clip is a preview of the movie "Million Dollar Arm." It looks to be a fun movie, but what I find academically interesting about the movie is that it is a portrayal of one of the countless fascinating cultural and economic interactions that was created by globalization. The story is about the economic forces motivating baseball scouts to seek out untapped labor pools in areas such as India that were previously not a part of baseball's cultural reach (and the really cool global lives of these individuals).
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.
"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.
"Germany is Europe's dominant country. Its large and strong economy has allowed it to bankroll the bailouts that have kept some of its neighbours - and the euro - afloat. The graphics below help explain why it is so dominant, and powerful - and also some of the problems it faces."
Facing religious discrimination in the Hindu-dominated job market, many are forced to assume fake identities.
This is not that uncommon in India unfortunately. As the articles states, a government commission was appointed in 2005 to investigate the degree to which Muslims were disadvantaged in social, economic and educational terms. The commission concluded the socio-economic condition of most Muslims was as bad as that of the Dalits, who are at the bottom rung of the Hindu-caste hierarchy, also referred to as the "untouchables."
|Suggested by Kara Charboneau|
China announces it will relax its one-child policy and abolish labor camps, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports.
"I recently saw this map in a Washington Post article about modern day slavery and was immediately was struck by the spatial extent and amount of slaves in today’s global economy. As stated in that article, “This is not some softened, by-modern-standards definition of slavery. These 30 million people are living as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers, child brides in forced marriages and, in all ways that matter, as pieces of property, chattel in the servitude of absolute ownership.” This map shows some important spatial patterns that seem to correlate to economic and cultural factors."
This Washington Post article got me thinking about the geographies of supply chains. The growing spread of the informal economy (a.k.a.-illicit trade, black market, etc.) has created opportunities for exploitation. Many argue that free trade was created this power differential between the laborers who create these mass-manufactured products and the global consumers. These critics argue that fair-trade, not free trade, with lead to sustainable economic growth and minimize social injustice. Here is a NY Times article about how Mauritania is now confronting it's slavery past and present.
Questions to Ponder: What economic and cultural forces are needed for slavery to thrive? What realistically could be done to lessen the amount of slavery in the world today? How are your spending habits part of the system?
Additionally, this TED video (archived on scoop.it here) is a chilling glimpse into the worst and darkest side of the global labor system.
Factories are finding that years of doing business overseas has withered what once was a thriving textile and apparel work force in the United States.
Historically, waves of immigrants came to the United States to work in textile mills. Since 1990, 77% of manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to places with lower wages as the industry has become automated. Today though, specialty items that still need to done by hand are coming back to the U.S. and wages in that sector are rising as American consumers want a "made in the USA" label.
"Recent news stories discussed why geography is important to an informed and engaged society. To those of us in the geospatial profession, basic geography education is an essential foundation to encouraging young people to enter the workforce in surveying, photogrammetry, GIS and other disciplines in our field."
While many in the geography education business bemoan student's lack of global awareness as a rationale for geography education, this is the key angle that I feel we should be pushing: the workforce. We currently are not producing enough students with geospatial skills in the United States to fill the jobs (one of the problems with geography being classified as a social science). Now that is a practical reason to support geography that non-geographers can understand.
Laxmi's story of being kidnapped and trafficked in Nepal is not an isolated case but, as this graphical account shows, things are not always what they seem.
Teaching about human trafficking and child slavery can be very disconcerting and uncomfortable. How much of the details regarding these horrific situations is age-appropriate and suitable for the classroom? The BBC is reporting on events with sensitive stories to both give a human face to the story, while protecting the identity of under-aged victims (to read about the production of this comic, read Drawing the News.) I encourage you to use your own discretion, but I find this comicbook format an accessible, informative and tasteful way to teach about human trafficking in South Asia to minors. It is a powerful way to teach about some hard (but important) aspects of globalization and economics.
As geographer Shaunna Barnhart says concerning this comic, "It moves from trafficking to child labor to pressures for migration for wage labor and the resulting injustices that occur. There's differential access to education, gender inequality, land, jobs, and monetary resources that leads to inter- and intra-country trafficking of the vulnerable. In the search for improved quality of life, individuals become part of a global flow of indentured servitude which serves to exploit their vulnerabilities and exacerbate inequalities and injustice. Nepali children 'paid' in food and cell phones that play Hindi music in 'exchange' for work in textile factories - cell phones that are themselves a nexus of global resource chains and textiles which in turn enter a global market - colliding at the site of child labor which remains largely hidden and ignored by those in the Global North who may benefit from such labor."
If Pyongyang is as bent on war as it wants us to believe, why is it keeping the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial complex open?
News reports coming out of North Korea are grim and threatening right now. However, this Washington Post article argues that it might be all for show. The Kaesong Industrial Complex was opened in 2002 as a gesture of peace. Located just across the northern side of the border, it is staffed by South and North Koreans (South Korea get super cheap labor, North Korea gets an infusion of currency, both get positive PR). The Kaesong Industrial Complex continues to operate with the permission of the North Korean government. Were that to ever change and North Korea shut down this joint venture, THEN we'll know that they are serious. Watch this short video for an overview of the geopolitical situation on the Korean peninsula as of March 2013.
Executives have recently focused attention on Silicon Valley's workplace culture. While companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo operate by their own set of rules, what happens there may influence how many Americans work.
How does the spatial layout of a workplace impact productivity and corporate culture? "Google has spent a lot of time studying what makes workplaces innovative and casual interactions are important. Sullivan lists three factors to make that set companies apart: learning by interaction, collaborations and fun." Spaces that encourage interaction and collaboration increase productivity. Spaces that are 'fun' help facilitate a vibrant community and deepens worker loyalty.
"77 Photos of the mass production of the Earth's natural resources. In the picture above, a Tibetan villager works in a salt field. Salt has been the most common food preservative, especially for meat, for thousands of years."
Coal, steel, gold, iron, copper, aluminum and oil are all incredibly important commodities. Agricultural products such as rice, cotton, corn, wheat and coffee all travel far beyond their area of origin. Where do these resources come from? How are they produced? This gallery of 77 pictures is a fantastic tour of the resources that are key cogs in the global economy.
In a surprising move, President Obama proposed during the State of the Union address to increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.
This made many people ask the question "how many countries have minimum wages?" Nearly all countries in the world have a minimum wage or a partial minimum wage.
What would the perfect immigration system look like? We asked three economists to dream big.
This is an intriguing podcast focused on how to best manage national borders if the only goal were to strengthen the economy (they center the conversatri on the United States). These economists envision plans with more incentives to attract a labor force that is more highly-skilled is crucial to having a rational migration policy. How how you manage the borders if you were in charge? How would your plan strengthen the country?