How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
The recent Newsweek Cover showing a Chimpanzee for the article, Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America, has received a lot of criticism for being factually inaccurate, but also for it's portrayal of Africa that taps into deep-rooted cultural anxieties about Africa in United States. Western writers have use many cultural conventions to talk about "the Dark Continent" stemming from a long colonial tradition. Africa had been developing rapidly in the last decade and how Ebola fares seems to be a referendum on the continent for many cultural commentators. This great Washington Post article is less about Ebola, but uses the outbreak to analyze how we think about Africa, and sometimes it isn't a pretty reflection. The Ebola outbreak is teaching us how we perceive Africa as much as it is about Africa itself.
Why knowing where countries are in Africa matters for how the rest of the world thinks about Ebola.
Cultural and media norms that often refer to Africa as one entity rather than an 11.7 million-square-mile land mass comprised of 54 countries and over 1.1 billion people who speak over 2,000 different languages. This cultural confusion means that, when a dangerous virus like Ebola breaks out, Americans who are used to referring to “Africa” as one entity may make mistakes in understanding just how big of a threat Ebola actually is, who might have been exposed to it, and what the likelihood of an individual contracting it might be. This Ebola outbreak is wreaking havoc on African economies beyond the three most heavily affected by Ebola, and that damage is completely avoidable. The East and Southern African safari industry provides a good example. Bookings for safaris there — including for the famed Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania — have plummeted due to the Ebola outbreak. These actions are based in fear, not reality.
Geo-literacy is so critical; our level of geo-literacy shapes our framework for organizing global information. Currently, two or three countries face the very real risk of becoming failed states as Ebola ravages them; but painting with such a broad brush that Africa as all one region leads someone to think that all 54 African countries are equally at risk as if they all have the same geographic context.
The story behind the failure of the world's health organizations to stop the Ebola disaster.
We have witnessed the terrifying dispersal of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Cultural practices have facilitated the spread of Ebola in West Africa, and a distinct set of cultural practices is one reason why many experts do not expect it to spread in the United States. The videos in this TIME article answer some basic questions about how the disease is spread while this data interactive has a useful timeline, map and charts to show the data behind the outbreak.
"The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more people than sum total of all the previous outbreaks since the virus was first identified in 1976. This video explains how it got so bad."
In a word, geography. The geographic factors facilitated the diffusion of Ebola and have slowed down the preventative measure and limited their success. This shows how porous borders, cultural patterns of health care, limited facilities a low literacy rates all contribute to to creating this nightmare.
Questions and answers on the scale of the outbreak and the science of the Ebola virus.
This Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, near the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia, where a network of roads makes the movement of people, goods ideas possible. Unfortunately though, those same roads make spread of diseases easier. In the past African Ebola cases in isolated villages could be contained but increased transportation has accelerated the diffusion process. If this spreads to Lagos, watch out.
"For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates."
This is a fascinating article that can be a great case study to share with students to allow them to analyze the factors that can improve infant mortality rates. In Finland the government provided oversight to improve infant mortality rates, pre-natal care and promote good parenting in a way that has had tangible results.
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.
"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.
|Suggested by cafonso|
The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking news reports since 2008 to produce an interactive map that plots global outbreaks of diseases that are easily prevented by inexpensive and effective vaccines.
For more analysis, read this LA Times article.
"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.
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.
|Suggested by Deanna Metz|
Despite the gains, more Africans still die from Malaria even as the spotlight remains firmly fixed on HIV/AIDS.
"Dust blows from what was once the Aral Sea floor. Tragic mismanagement of a natural resource."
The collapse of the Aral Sea ecosystem is (arguably) the worst man-made environmental disaster of the 20th century and 21st century has seen the continuation of the desertification set in motion. Soviet mismanagement, water-intensive cotton production and population growth have all contributed the overtaxing of water resources in the Aral Sea basin, which has resulted in a the shrinking of the Aral Sea--it has lost more of the sea to an expanding desert than the territories of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined. The health problems arising from this issues are large for the entire Aral Sea basin, which encompasses 5 Central Asian countries and it has profoundly changed (for the worse) the local climates. Compare the differences with some historical images of the Aral Sea on Google Earth or on ArcGIS Online (also see this article from GeoCurrents)
|Suggested by Duane Hanstein, GISP|
What would John Snow's famous cholera map look like on a modern map of London, using modern mapping tools?
John Snow's cholera map is often noted as a prime example of using spatial thinking to solve a scientific problem. Here are a variety of resources to explore this classic example. Here is an article that highlights the spatial thinking that produced this map, with KML files and in Google Fusion Tables. See also these online GIS layers of Dr. Snow's famous map.
The inhabitants of a small Greek island live on average 10 years longer than the rest of western Europe. So what's the secret to long life in Ikaria?
As more countries have entered the later stages of the Demographic Transition, we expect people to live longer than ever. On this island and other "blue zones" they attribute their long life to a traditional diet and an unpolluted environment.
A handful of AIDS cases were first recognized in the U.S. at the beginning of the 1980s. By 1990, there was a pandemic. In 1997, more than 3 million people became newly infected with HIV.
The spread of AIDS/HIV since the 1980s has varied greatly over time and space. The red lines represent Sub-Saharan countries and the dark blue line on this interactive is the regional average of Sub-Saharan African countries. The regional trend was on the rise at the end of the 20th century, but is now on a slight decline (but still an major impact on the continent). Countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe have made some significant strides in limiting the spread of AIDS (Zimbabwe is the country that 'peaked' in 1997 and has had the steepest decline).
The stunning drop in global child mortality is proof that poor countries are not doomed to eternal misery. Here's how it happened.
Global health has substantially improved in the last two decades. This article explores the improvements in global health that have been made this year, and the attached interactive feature allows users to explore the changes in global health risks. Click here for the Guardian's version of this same data and interactive.
With this interactive map, users can explore cancers that disproportionately affect poorer countries. How do these spatial distributions correlate with other developmental, consumption or economic patterns? What surprises you about this data?
View Full Lesson on TED-ED BETA: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-pandemics-spread In our increasingly globalized world, a single infected person can board a pl...
This is a great demonstration of why spatial thinking is critical to so many fields, including medicine.
From technology to equality, five ways the world is getting better all the time...
This article by former President of the United States Bill Clinton, outlines numerous ways that globalization can improve the world, especially in developing regions. He uses examples from around the world and includes numerous geographic themes.
Extreme poverty in the United States is giving rise to a group of infections known as the neglected tropical diseases, which we ordinarily think of as confined to developing countries.
Poor Americans are more likely to contract tropical diseases such as Chagas disease and dengue fever. Question to ponder: what geographic factors (physical and human) lead poor people in the United States to be more heavily impacted by the spread to these diseases?
Robyn shares her personal story and how it inspired her current path as a "Real Food" evangelist. Grounded in a successful Wall Street career that was more i...
Robyn authored "The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It." A former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn brings insight, compassion and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on the health of our children. As new proteins are engineered into our food supply to maximize profits for the food industry, childhood food allergies are on the rise. What are the connections between cancer and modern consumption patterns? The correlation is clearly there; is causation also present? How have the economics of agriculture shaped this situation? How will the future economics of agriculture reshape food production?