Producers, sellers, and consumers waste tons of food. John Oliver discusses the shocking amount of food we don’t eat.
Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
Producers, sellers, and consumers waste tons of food. John Oliver discusses the shocking amount of food we don’t eat.
Food waste is a tragedy that we all know happens, but the economic system does not work efficiently to maximize the global food production (Disclaimer: it is HBO's John Oliver, so there is some language and references that might not be appropriate for all audiences).
Saudi Arabia produces much of its electricity by burning oil, a practice that most countries abandoned long ago, reasoning that they could use coal and natural gas instead and save oil for transportation, an application for which there is no mainstream alternative. Most of Saudi Arabia’s power plants are colossally inefficient, as are its air conditioners, which consumed 70 percent of the kingdom’s electricity in 2013. Although the kingdom has just 30 million people, it is the world’s sixth-largest consumer of oil.Now, Saudi rulers say, things must change. Their motivation isn’t concern about global warming; the last thing they want is an end to the fossil-fuel era. Quite the contrary: they see investing in solar energy as a way to remain a global oil power. The Saudis burn about a quarter of the oil they produce—and their domestic consumption has been rising at an alarming 7 percent a year, nearly three times the rate of population growth.
The world's population is projected to reach 11 billion by the end of the century. Feeding that many people will be a challenge, and it is further complicated by the impact of climate change on agriculture. That is why some people advocate an unusual way to boost the food supply and feed people sustainably: by eating less meat, and more insects.
While it might make economic, nutritional, and environmental sense, I'm sure that many are squeamish at the idea of insects primarily because in violates many deeply engrained cultural taboos. The main reasons listed in the video for promoting the production and consumption of more insects:
Questions to Ponder: Would you be willing to try eating insects? How do you think this idea would go over with your family and friends? What cultural barriers might slow the diffusion of this practice?
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?
|Suggested by Ariel Juarez|
"How do you raise awareness about population explosion? One group thought that the simplest way would be to show people in pictures the impact of population, pollution and consumption."
This gallery is filled with excellent "teaching images" on human and environmental interactions and all aspects of geography--the one picture above shows how Mexico City has enveloped even the rolling hills as a part of its urban expansion.
"Various ecological, political and economic perspectives on habitat fragmentation from the West Wing: season 1, episode 5."
Our modern society depends on greater connectivity between places. Regionalized economies, politics and transportation networks are increasingly integrated with far-flung places now more than ever before. Our biosphere and natural environments are exceptions to this pattern. Wilderness areas are 'islands' in an ocean of human controlled environments. We create transportation linkages that unite people economies and cities, but separate herds from their extended habitat.
We've all seen road kill on major highways. Species like deer, elk, and grizzly bears and other large-bodied animals need a wide range for numerous ecological reasons. These bridges are an attempt to ameliorate some of the problems that our roads pose for the non-human species that still call Earth home. From a purely economic standpoint, many argue that these bridges save society money given the accidents and property damage that can be avoided.
Just for fun: This is a hilarious/painful video of a woman who clearly doesn't understand these principles.
Earth is changing rapidly, and an increasing number of scientists say that humans have become the dominant force driving these changes. While the term has no formal definition, many agree that we are now living in an age shaped by human activity: the Anthropocene.
Evidence for the Anthropocene ranges from worldwide population booms to the expansive transformation of the landscape. But solutions are cropping up at the local level that could help create a more resilient global community."
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tristram Stuart wants the world to stop throwing away so much good food.
No one should be surprised that more developed societies are more wasteful societies. It is not just personal wasting of food at the house and restaurants that are the problem. Perfectly edible food is thrown out due to size (smaller than standards but perfectly normal), cosmetics (Bananas that are shaped 'funny') and costumer preference (discarded bread crust). This is an intriguing perceptive on our consumptive culture, but it also is helpful in framing issues such as sustainability and human and environmental interactions in a technologically advanced societies that are often removed form the land where the food they eat originates. You can hear more about Tristram's work in this TED talk.
"By 2050, the world's population will likely increase 35 percent. But is growing more food the only option—or even the best? National Geographic investigates the challenges and solutions to feeding everyone on our planet, based on an eight-month series in National Geographic magazine. Visit http://natgeofood.com for ongoing coverage of food issues as we investigate the Future of Food today on World Food Day."
"Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. See other videos on this organization here."
There has been a revitalization in urban gardening as many city dwellers feel disconnected from their food systems; urban gardening is a way for people to actively control what they are ingesting into their systems many fear some of the modern agricultural methods. Based in Milwaukee, WI, Growing Power has created an interesting combination of vegetable gardening and aquaponics for the urban environment.
The last section of dam is being blasted from the Elwha River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Tuesday.
For almost half a century, the two dams were widely applauded for powering the growth of the peninsula and its primary industry. But the dams blocked salmon migration up the Elwha, devastating its fish and shellfish—and the livelihood of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. As the tribe slowly gained political power—it won federal recognition in 1968—it and other tribes began to protest the loss of the fishing rights promised to them by federal treaty in the mid-1800s. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Washington tribes, including the Elwha Klallam, were entitled to half the salmon catch in the state.
"One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat here is imported and often of lower quality. Why? Author Paul Greenberg says it has to do with American tastes."
The United States exports the best-quality seafood that Americans catch, but import primarily low-grade aquacultural products. This is just one of the counter-intuitive issues withe U.S. fish consumption and production. This bizarre dynamic has cultural and economic explanations and this NPR podcast nicely explains these spatial patterns that are bound to frustrate those that advocate for locally sourced food productions.
"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.
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.
I'm sure a few of you have already seen this viral video and it should be intriguing to geographers for a variety of reasons (and not just because we love hexagons). Solar Roadways is a project in its infancy, but they have broad ambitions that would be revolutionary. Roads that would produce energy? The idea would have staggering results, but there are some practical reasons why this hasn't already been implemented. A geographic perspective is critical as we plan for the future.
Questions to Ponder: How would the full implementation of this idea restructure the cultural landscape, urban environments and our cultural ecology? What would some advantages be? This video is a promotional video that emphasizes the positive; what drawbacks, limitations and obstacles are there to solar roadways in the future?
"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.
When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.
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? This one question brings up many more spatial, environmental, political and social questions--this interactive feature nicely addresses many of the pertinent issues in a very accessible manner.
|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.
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.