"An overarching issue that is essential for understanding many pressing events of the day is the fraying standard geopolitical model of the world. This taken-for-granted model posits mutually recognized sovereign states as the fundamental building blocks of the global order. Many of these basic units, however, are highly fragile and a number have collapsed altogether. As a result, the next several posts will consider, and critique, the conventional state-based vision of the world. I am skeptical of the standard 'nation-state' model of global politics, as I think that it conceals as much as it reveals about current-day geopolitical realities. This model, evident on any world political map, rests on the idea that that the terrestrial world is divided into a set number of theoretically equivalent sovereign states."
Tags: political, states, unit 4 political, geopolitics.
As stated in this NPR article: "The video shows satellite tracking of routes superimposed over Google Earth. It focuses on some of the main choke points for international shipping, such as the Strait of Malacca on the southern tip of Malaysia, Suez Canal, the Strait of Gibraltar and Panama Canal. It's a good reminder that about 90 percent of all the goods traded globally spend at least some of their transit time on a ship."
Accelerated through the fear from the attacks of 9/11 and all what followed, the so called ‘Western Society’ is constructing the greatest wall ever build on this planet. On different building sites on all five inhabitable continents, walls, fences and high-tech border surveillance are under construction in order to secure the citizens and their high quality of life within this system. The fall of the Berlin Wall was described as the historical moment that marks the demolition of world’s last barrier between nation states. Yet it took the European Union only six years to create with the Schengen Agreement in 1995 a new division only 80km offset to the east of Berlin.
"While people often say that borders aren’t visible from space, the line between Kazakhstan and China could not be more clear in this satellite image. Acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite on September 9, 2013, the image shows northwestern China around the city of Qoqek and far eastern Kazakhstan near Lake Balqash.
The border between the two countries is defined by land-use policies. In China, land use is intense. Only 11.62 percent of China’s land is arable. Pressed by a need to produce food for 1.3 billion people, China farms just about any land that can be sustained for agriculture. Fields are dark green in contrast to the surrounding arid landscape, a sign that the agriculture is irrigated. As of 2006, about 65 percent of China’s fresh water was used for agriculture, irrigating 629,000 square kilometers (243,000 square miles) of farmland, an area slightly smaller than the state of Texas.
The story is quite different in Kazakhstan. Here, large industrial-sized farms dominate, an artifact of Soviet-era agriculture. While agriculture is an important sector in the Kazakh economy, eastern Kazakhstan is a minor growing area. Only 0.03 percent of Kazakhstan’s land is devoted to permanent agriculture, with 20,660 square kilometers being irrigated. The land along the Chinese border is minimally used, though rectangular shapes show that farming does occur in the region. Much of the agriculture in this region is rain-fed, so the fields are tan much like the surrounding natural landscape."
Tags: remote sensing, land use, environment, geospatial, environment modify, food, agriculture, agricultural land change.
"It took the folks at Google to upgrade these choppy visual sequences from crude flip-book quality to true video footage. With the help of massive amounts of computer muscle, they have scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The images are striking not just because of their vast sweep of geography and time but also because of their staggering detail."
I used to teach students about the surprising water crises in central and SE Wisconsin, one of the most water-rich states in the US. They were always blown away. Now, teaching in CO, everyone seems to have an awareness (anxiety?) about local water scarcity. This story, though, has more of a national, even global scope.
"African countries are also quite diverse from an ethnic standpoint. As the Washington Post's Max Fisher noted back in 2013, the world's 20 most ethnically diverse countries are all African, partially because European colonial powers divvied up sections of the continent with little regard for how the residents would have organized the land themselves. This map above shows Africa's ethnographic regions as identified by George Murdock in his 1959 ethnography of the continent."
"The International Database at the US Census Bureau [provides] population estimates broken down by country, age and year for essentially every country. [With this data we can track] shifts in population makeup over time. I’ve created a few interesting graphs to show the expected shifts over the next 35 years, including the dependency ratio."
"Weak and failing states pose a challenge to the international community. In today’s world, with its highly globalized economy, information systems and interlaced security, pressures on one fragile state can have serious repercussions not only for that state and its people, but also for its neighbors and other states halfway across the globe. The Fragile States Index (FSI), produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure."
"Why are all the gas stations, cafes and restaurants in one crowded spot? As two competitive cousins vie for ice-cream-selling domination on one small beach, discover how game theory and the Nash Equilibrium inform these retail hotspots."
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