In the Netherlands, Santa doesn't have little elves; he has a helper (slave?) named Zwarte Piet, literally Black Pete. He delights kids with cookies and a goofy persona. Foreign visitors are startled by his resemblance to Little Black Sambo.
As the climate shifts, rivers will both flood and dry up more often, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Shortages are especially likely in parts of the world already strapped for water, so political scientists expect feuds will become even more intense. To track disputes worldwide, researchers at Oregon State University spent a decade building a comprehensive database of international exchanges—-both conflicts and alliances—over shared water resources. They found that countries often begin disputes belligerently but ultimately reach peaceful agreements. Says Aaron Wolf, the geographer who leads the project, “For me the really interesting part is how even Arabs and Israelis, Indians and Pakistanis, are able to resolve their differences and find a solution.”
"Occasionally we need to be reminded that the concepts of distance and area are important to the day-to-day understanding of breaking news stories, as well as many of our daily personal decisions. Although modern communications and transportation have reduced the roles of distance and area in some activities, by no means has it eliminated the utility of these concepts."
Volcanic islands can seem to appear out of nowhere, emerging from the ocean like breaching monsters of the deep. Below, Mika McKinnon explains how these odd geological formations are born, how they evolve, and how they eventually vanish back beneath the waves.
"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) - Seth Dixon
"Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past."