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The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers

The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.

 

Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.

 

If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Religion is shaped by the geography of the region in which it develops.  For example, Hinduism is heavily influenced by the rivers of India, and these rivers are considered holy places sites and places of cleansing and purification.  However, the cleansing power of the rivers is diminished by pollution that makes it unsafe to take part in ritual bathing.  Pollution, climate change, and deforestation are also having an impact on other aspects of Hinduism, which is about celebrating nature in it's entirety, including monsoons, forests, and agriculture.  As nature continues to be negatively impacted by human activity, many aspects of Hinduism will also be negatively impacted.
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Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 17:57
(South Asia) With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is bound to have serious problems with pollution. But pollution has a profound impact on a religion closely tied with nature and geographic locations for thousands of years. Rivers that were previously seen as the "nurturers of Hinduism" are now drying up because of climate change or are polluting the area. The destruction of Indian rivers is not given proper public attention and the loss of rivers could lead to the loss of Indian history and the meaning of Hindu culture.
David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 20:19
Sometimes both sides can be wrong in an argument, as illustrated in this article. The secular left in India has mistaken their conservative Hindu counterparts as a people stuck in tradition, unable to address the environmental calamities facing modern society. The more right-leaning Hindus believe the secular environmentalism of their countrymen to be antagonistic to the practice of Hinduism - such as the environmental restrictions on firecrackers. Hindus celebrating Diwali feel that fireworks are a central part of the festivities and do not want environmentalists restricting them. The author notes that both sides have missed the point. Hinduism is closely tied to nature and expresses notions of environmental stewardship as a holy endeavor. Liberal Indians do not need to see Hinduism as opposed to environmental sustainability and should stop criticizing Hinduism as a whole. Traditionally religious Hindus should be aware that their own faith would have them be environmentalists - not because of secularism - but because of divine inspirations to coexist with nature. While both sides bicker, failing to understand how Hinduism is pro-nature, the rivers are being ruined by pollution. This pollution will destroy nature, and nature is the foundation and driving force of the Hindu religion. This is because Hinduism was founded around a  river valley civilization - the river and arable land being central to the culture's vitality. 

In some ways, this situation reminds me of Christianity in America. Liberals are very concerned about the environment and climate change in particular. Conservative Christians, buying into a theology of "Dominionism" of Genesis, believe God gave the earth to humans to use however they please. Paired with a suspicion of science, conservative evangelicals have largely shunned environmental sustainability and conservation. A closer reading of the Bible would show that God values nature and wants creation to grow and thrive. Humans should be stewards of the environment - its destined caretakers. Instead, liberals think Christianity preaches stupidity while conservative Christians believe the science behind environmentalism is anti-God, aligned with communism, and probably a hoax to manipulate the faithful. 


Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:08
The river plays a key role in India. Whether its culture, religion, histor,y in agriculture, in transportation, and in many other aspects. These once bountiful rivers that sustained Indian civilizations are now threatened by pollution, climate change, damns, and other man made reasons. At best if this is problem is not solved it will lead to drastic changes in Indian society, at worse it could lead to the collapse of Indian society, Starting with the end of Hindu rituals. 
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Global Climate Change Impacts on Pacific Islands Terrestrial Biodiversity: A Review

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Nicole Canova's insight:
The flora and fauna of the Pacific Islands are especially susceptible to climate change. Many species require very specific conditions, so rising temperatures pose an alarming threat. In addition, rising sea levels will quickly destroy the habitat of many plant and animal species. The scariest part of all of this is that many species are specific to only a very small number of islands; this is due to millennia of evolution in isolation from now only distantly related species. Once these islands' species are gone, they are gone forever.
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The Great Barrier Reef was not bleached naturally

The Great Barrier Reef was not bleached naturally | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"This year, we’ve seen alarming bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, caused by warm sea temperatures. A recently completed aerial survey of the reef found that 93 percent of the smaller reefs that comprise it showed at least some bleaching, and in the northern sector of the reef, the large majority of reefs saw bleaching that was severe — meaning many of these corals could die.  There was already considerable murmuring that this event, which damages a famous World Heritage site and could deal a blow to a highly valuable tourism industry, did not simply happen by chance. And now, a near real-time analysis by a group of Australian climate and coral reef researchers has affirmed that the extremely warm March sea temperatures in the Coral Sea, which are responsible for the event, were hardly natural."

 

Tags: biogeography, environment, ecology, Australia, Oceania.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This is an unfortunate example of the impacts of climate change. As water temperatures rise and massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants acidify our oceans, we will continue to see amazing biological wonders like the Great Barrier Reef become sick and die. This will have very real effects for human populations, too: if this trend of bleaching continues, Australia's ecotourism industry will suffer as people stop coming to visit, hurting the economy. It will also hurt people's livelihoods because as fish and other forms of marine life disappear from the reef, fishermen will no longer find it profitable to try to make their living from the reef.
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Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, 4 May 2018, 03:30
As the temperature of the sea rises, the great barrier reef has seen some devastating bleaching. Because of its severity, many of these corals, that were once beautiful and pigmented, could die. Researchers have discovered that this rise in temperature is due to humans.
K Rome's curator insight, 7 October 2018, 00:30
The Great barrier Reef is ana amazing area to explore. Its truly a marvel and a beautiful site. It is also a major boost for tourism and well the majorty of the Reef is seeing heavy bleaching. The updated analysis is that most of the damage has done done by higher sea temps caused by climate change through human beings. Most of these studies however, have not been peer reviewed, but the study was very through. If this continues to happen we will see one of the worlds great marvels continue to to bleach and many of the corals could die.  This is devasting for a few reasons first off people that want to visit this beautiful site and take it in this limits there opportunity. Also for the locals this will greatly hurt the tourism business. Tourism is a huge ecnomic boost in this area and if the Reef continues to be damaged we could see a major turn in the economics in this area. This could eventually lead to the upright in migration from this area and could cause other issues within the country. People owning businesses in the area could be greatly affected as well. This would be a shame to see a beautiful area be tarnished.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 22:30
A terrible occurrence in many ways for the Great Barrier reef in Australia. This bleaching is occurring because of warm sea temperatures. The damage could cause many corals to die and that forces other animals to adapt and migrate. This is an environmental issue that definitely needs to be looked at, but it is also an issue for Australia's tourism. Ecotourism is a huge pull for Australia that gets people and money into the country so it is in their best interests to figure out a way to save the Great Barrier Reef.
 
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Highly concentrated population distribution

Highly concentrated population distribution | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"Only 2% of Australia's population lives in the yellow area. "


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This distribution of Australia's population should come to no surprise to people who have a vague idea of the continent's geography. The coastal areas are by far preferable to the desert areas of the continent's interior. A good example of how geography impacts population density and where people decide to live.
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brielle blais's curator insight, 26 April 2018, 18:24
This post shows how this physical geography and climate of a country can impact who lives where, and how crowded the actual livable places can be. The land in the yellow is very hot, dry, and mostly desert and rugged. It would be very difficult for anyone to actually live in this area, due do land that cannot be used for any agriculture, most likely very little water sources, and just plain hot. This means the density of livable cities is very high, giving Australia a unique demographic. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, 10 December 2018, 03:20
The population of Australia is highly concentrated at the coast. Only about two percent of the population lives in the yellow shaded area on the image present in the article. The reason for the middle of Australia being so lightly populated is because the harsh climates. Where most people do not live the climate resembles the Sahara desert, which is very dry, and lacks rainfall. While the coastal areas where most of the population is concentrated resembles climates like Brazil, California, and India. These climates that most people live are not as harsh on the human and better for agriculture, cattle and port cities are known to be economically more powerful and populated. Since they access to the sea is so imperative these days.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 21:38
The area often referred to as the "Outback" of Australia is one of the most sparsely populated areas on the planet. Due to the harsh environment and lack of resources not many people live their at all with the exceptions being some scientist, anthropologist, and native aboriginal tribes. This environment to many   seems like a horrible, desolate place. Hence why it was a great setting for Mad Max to help Illustrate the gravity and desperateness of the situation. To people that know the land better there is a lot there and a vast array of species only found in the Outback. 
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Interactive: The 50 Largest Ports in the World

Interactive: The 50 Largest Ports in the World | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
Investigate for yourself the mechanisms of global trade

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This interactive map of the fifty largest ports in the world is very revealing. It tells us that there has been a shift in the global economy from centered around Atlantic trade to Pacific trade. The eight largest ports are all located in East or Southeast Asia, showing a massive growth in Asia's economies over just a few decades.
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Adam Deneault's curator insight, 15 December 2015, 00:57
This is a pretty informative interactive map of the largest ports in the world. Very well put together to help some understandings of trade. Most of the ports are on the East coast of China which is the Pacific Sea. The reason there are probably so many here in China is because they make a large amount of product that needs to be shipped worldwide. They are like the leading country in imports and exports to other global or major global markets.
Alex Smiga's curator insight, 14 March 2016, 23:40

This more clearly shows the regional restructuring of the global economy than just about anything I've ever seen, especially manufacturing.  The 8 largest and busiest ports in the world are all in East or Southeast Asia (and 11 of the top 13).  A quick glance at the historical charts will show that most of these were relatively minor ports that have exploded in the last 20 years.  


New Jersey at 24

 

Tags: transportation, globalization, diffusion, East Asia, industry, economic.

BrianCaldwell7's curator insight, 5 April 2016, 13:22

This more clearly shows the regional restructuring of the global economy than just about anything I've ever seen, especially manufacturing.  The 8 largest and busiest ports in the world are all in East or Southeast Asia (and 11 of the top 13).  A quick glance at the historical charts will show that most of these were relatively minor ports that have exploded in the last 20 years.  

 

Tags: transportation, globalization, diffusion, East Asia, industry, economic.

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The Spice Trade's Legacy

The Spice Trade's Legacy | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"In its day, the spice trade was the world’s biggest industry. It established and destroyed empires and helped the Europeans (who were looking for alternate routes to the east) map the globe through their discovery of new continents. What was once tightly controlled by the Arabs for centuries was now available throughout Europe with the establishment of the Ocean Spice Trade route connecting Europe directly to South Asia (India) and South East Asia."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
It is no exaggeration to say that the spice trade shaped the world as we know it today. Southeast Asia's location made it the only place in the world to obtain some of the most popular spices and other goods. Meanwhile Constantinople, being situated squarely between Europe and Asia, was the perfect middleman through which spices could get to markets in Europe -- where demand was high from Antiquity through the Middle Ages -- until the city fell to the Ottoman Empire and turned its back on Europe. This motivated Europeans to develop the sailing and navigational technology necessary to find sea routes to Asia, which led to the discovery of the Americas, and the rest is history. What followed were centuries of colonization, conflict, trade, and globalization on a scale the world had never seen before. All because people were crazy for spices that could only be found half-way around the world.
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Colleen Blankenship's curator insight, 19 February 2018, 18:49
History and AP Human Geography!  How has globalization changed the world? 
Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 3 April 2018, 13:10
A very insightful article and shows the uttermost importance of geography in many phases. First off, it shows the importance of  having key resources within your country or region. Southeast Asia is know for its spices which made it especially key during the age of exploration. Also, which is key is how do we get there? What are the best trade routes? Over the years, first the Romans then the Ottoman Empire controlled key lands in which connected Europe and Southeast Asia. Since, the Christian Europeans did not want to work with the Muslims  they found new trade routes and well eventually we end up discovering the New World (the Americas". This shows how everything like always connects. Southeast Asia, which for most of its time  has been colonized up until almost the mid 1980s is finally starting to grow on its own. It will be interesting to see how they use there own resources to try to gain traction in the global markets throughout the next few decades and it we see any smaller world powers come out of the area. The spice trade dominated thousands of years of trade, but Southeast Asia has many other key resources as well and it will be key for politicians and businesses in the future to capitalize on this into the future. 
Corey Rogers's curator insight, 16 December 2018, 01:22
The spice trade not only opened up all the amenities Southeast Asia had to offer but spread their culture throughout Western Europe. It also opened up new routes for Europeans to explore Eastern Asia and then sail around the world. 
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China pollution: First ever red alert in effect in Beijing

China pollution: First ever red alert in effect in Beijing | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"Schools in Beijing are closed and outdoor construction halted as the Chinese capital's first ever pollution "red alert" comes into effect over smog levels."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Another example of the impacts of China's disregard for environmentally sustainable practices. The city's industry and thousands of cars produce massive amounts of pollutants, making the air difficult to breathe on most days.
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Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 16:03

It is a real shame that China has let pollution go this far in its country. It really goes to show the sacrifices they are willing to make in order to be a major global economic power. Unfortunately for them this kind of action and rapid growth by cutting corners is what will likely stop them from becoming a major power (due to fast resource exhaustion and loss of environmental resources due to pollutants over time as well as species). The issue will likely remain unsolved due to the Chinese governments lack of concern. Hopefully China's slow shift to a consumer market will provide pollution relief as the factories leave for elsewhere (likely Africa).

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 23:39

It's horrible to see China come to this. Soon, air pollution will be just as bad everywhere else if it is not stopped. We, everyone, has to do something to stop air pollution. This world is polluted enough. Stop air pollution so future generations can have a chance to have a good life and not have to worry about PM levels are in the air on a daily basis.

brielle blais's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 15:00
This article shows the harm one country can cause when prioritizing their economic growth over protecting the environment and maintaining public safety. The geography of China is that it is surrounded in the South and East by industrialized cities. This has increased air pollution such as smog and forces the people to wear masks and even drive cars on an alternating schedule. This calls for a new global deal on climate change to fix the air quality and way of life for people in China and around the world. 
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Bad Earth: the human cost of pollution in China – in pictures

Bad Earth: the human cost of pollution in China – in pictures | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
This series of images shows the extent of China’s pollution problems and the human toll of exponential growth on local communities in China’s vast and severely damaged northern region

 

Ghazlan Mandukai, 52, left, looks out over the vast, toxic tailings lake beyond the industrial city of Baotou, Inner Mongolia. He farmed in this area for 40 years until the influx of steel and rare earth metal factories rendered local lands infertile. Poisonous waste that results from refining rare earths is continually dumped into the Weikuang Dam, as seen here.

 

Tags: pollution, China, East Asia, industry, sustainability, images, art, landscape.

 


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
China has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world: but at what cost? They make themselves competitive in global markets by delivering goods and services at low prices, which they achieve through under-paying workers, not using resources to ensure workers' safety, and polluting the environment by ignoring protocols for safely disposing of waste products, which costs time and money.  The result is air that is unsafe to breathe, millions of people and animals with poisoned water supplies, and land that cannot be farmed.
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Keone Sinnott-Suardana's curator insight, 23 June 2016, 03:21
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:39
CHina's pollution issues are pretty bad, possibly the worst polluter in the world. The air quality can be so terrible it reminds me of Industrial revolution London, except Chinese cities are even worse. Not just air pollution from smoke stacks but land pollution from dirty mining and water pollution in rivers from factories all play key roles in China's pollution problem. Some estimates put the number as high as a million Chinese deaths per a year attributed to pollution. This article does a good job of breaking down the pollution issue into simple terms.   
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India-Pakistan border Ceremony

Fascinating footage of a traditional ceremony that takes place on the Pakistan India border. From the BBC

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This is a really interesting display of hyper-nationalism and masculinity that has been taking place at the India-Pakistan border for years. On the surface, it seems like simply an entertaining, friendly competition. However, many are concerned that this tradition does nothing but enforce the tension between the two countries.
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Martin Kemp's curator insight, 17 December 2015, 20:32

whether or not this incites nationalism in a poor way, i think it is a good thing. no nationalism is a very detrimental thing to a country, i believe that this does benefit both countries in a way, maybe not as far as relations between the two countries but internally having love for your own country.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 22:51
This video shows a ceremony that takes place on the India-Pakistan border and how precisely things need to be done to keep the peace. The two flags are lowered at a slow pace to ensure they are being lowered at the same pace, for if one were to be lowered before the other it could cause an international dispute. 
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:24
This event is interesting. Its almost reminds of me of two football teams staring each other down and chanting before a football game.  There is alot of tension between the two countries and some thing there is always a lingering possibility of war. This can seem to some as a way to be macho and "battle" without actually going to war. 
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The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers

The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.

 

Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.

 

If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Religion is shaped by the geography of the region in which it develops.  For example, Hinduism is heavily influenced by the rivers of India, and these rivers are considered holy places sites and places of cleansing and purification.  However, the cleansing power of the rivers is diminished by pollution that makes it unsafe to take part in ritual bathing.  Pollution, climate change, and deforestation are also having an impact on other aspects of Hinduism, which is about celebrating nature in it's entirety, including monsoons, forests, and agriculture.  As nature continues to be negatively impacted by human activity, many aspects of Hinduism will also be negatively impacted.
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Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 17:57
(South Asia) With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is bound to have serious problems with pollution. But pollution has a profound impact on a religion closely tied with nature and geographic locations for thousands of years. Rivers that were previously seen as the "nurturers of Hinduism" are now drying up because of climate change or are polluting the area. The destruction of Indian rivers is not given proper public attention and the loss of rivers could lead to the loss of Indian history and the meaning of Hindu culture.
David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 20:19
Sometimes both sides can be wrong in an argument, as illustrated in this article. The secular left in India has mistaken their conservative Hindu counterparts as a people stuck in tradition, unable to address the environmental calamities facing modern society. The more right-leaning Hindus believe the secular environmentalism of their countrymen to be antagonistic to the practice of Hinduism - such as the environmental restrictions on firecrackers. Hindus celebrating Diwali feel that fireworks are a central part of the festivities and do not want environmentalists restricting them. The author notes that both sides have missed the point. Hinduism is closely tied to nature and expresses notions of environmental stewardship as a holy endeavor. Liberal Indians do not need to see Hinduism as opposed to environmental sustainability and should stop criticizing Hinduism as a whole. Traditionally religious Hindus should be aware that their own faith would have them be environmentalists - not because of secularism - but because of divine inspirations to coexist with nature. While both sides bicker, failing to understand how Hinduism is pro-nature, the rivers are being ruined by pollution. This pollution will destroy nature, and nature is the foundation and driving force of the Hindu religion. This is because Hinduism was founded around a  river valley civilization - the river and arable land being central to the culture's vitality. 

In some ways, this situation reminds me of Christianity in America. Liberals are very concerned about the environment and climate change in particular. Conservative Christians, buying into a theology of "Dominionism" of Genesis, believe God gave the earth to humans to use however they please. Paired with a suspicion of science, conservative evangelicals have largely shunned environmental sustainability and conservation. A closer reading of the Bible would show that God values nature and wants creation to grow and thrive. Humans should be stewards of the environment - its destined caretakers. Instead, liberals think Christianity preaches stupidity while conservative Christians believe the science behind environmentalism is anti-God, aligned with communism, and probably a hoax to manipulate the faithful. 


Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:08
The river plays a key role in India. Whether its culture, religion, histor,y in agriculture, in transportation, and in many other aspects. These once bountiful rivers that sustained Indian civilizations are now threatened by pollution, climate change, damns, and other man made reasons. At best if this is problem is not solved it will lead to drastic changes in Indian society, at worse it could lead to the collapse of Indian society, Starting with the end of Hindu rituals. 
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A Boot Fit for a King

A Boot Fit for a King | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
Among King Leopold II's legacies in central Africa is the Congo Pedicle, an odd stick of land that nearly divides Zambia in half.

 

This is a nice case study for political geography of Sub-Saharan Africa.  This exemplifies the concept of 'superimposed borders' and shows the land-hungry colonial spirit that led King Leopold to call the continent a 'magnificent African cake.'


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
The borders we see today are remnants of the history of colonial rule in Africa.  In the 1880s, European countries carved up the continent like "a magnificent African cake" at the Berlin Conference.  They arbitrarily decided borders, irrespective of tribal or ethnic ties or enmities.  This led to problems during the colonial era and has led to continued conflict in the post-colonial era.
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Don Brown Jr's comment, 18 July 2012, 01:05

It is difficult for a nation state to form a national identity when it has superimposed boarders. Many African leaders now face the political challenges of uniting various factions (some former states) in order to create a new national identity.
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Mali in Crisis

Mali in Crisis | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
France is ready to stop Islamist militants who control northern Mali, the French president says, following a plea for help by his Malian counterpart.

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This touches upon a different aspect of the Sahel region.  In this context, the Sahel is a transition zone of human geography.  It is the transition between the Arab, Muslim Northern Africa and the Black, Christian/Animist sub-Saharan Africa.  These ethnic and cultural transitions often mean that the Sahel region is rife with conflict, and Mali is an example of this problem.
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, 11 January 2013, 14:57

In April 2012, Islamist rebels seized power in Northern Mali and have declared independence, proclaiming this region The Islamic State of Azawad.  Recently they have begun to amass armies on the southern limits of their territory and presumably are seeking to topple all of Mali.  The former colonizer, France is being called upon to assist as is the United Nations.  This area is part of a region known as the Sahel, the transition from a dry North Africa to tropical Sub-Saharan Africa, from a Muslim/Arab north to a Christian/Animist/Black region of Africa.  The human and physical geographic divisions in this region plays a major role in this conflict.  


Tags: Mali, Africa, political, conflict, war.

Josephine Castro's curator insight, 12 September 2013, 07:35

Islamist militants control Northern Mali

 

Ryan Amado's curator insight, 11 December 2013, 09:41

What also was very dangerous about this was that Mali became a safe haven for terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda,  because of their Islamic ties to the rebels.  If we allow them to control this region, who knows what they could plan.  We spent all this time making them run, giving them a new base would undo a lot of work that has been done in the past 12 years. 

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Middle East | Definition of Middle East in English by Oxford Dictionaries

Definition of Middle East - an extensive area of south-western Asia and northern Africa, stretching from the Mediterranean to Pakistan and including the Arabi
Nicole Canova's insight:
This is obviously a very short article, but the implications are enormous, and I'd like to spend a good amount of time discussing the definition of what we call the Middle East.  This provides a very broad geographical definition of the Middle East; the territory from the Mediterranean to Pakistan is a vast swathe of land.  What does "Middle East" mean, anyway?  It is a very Eurocentric term, and it is relative to Europe's position on the map.  If Europe is at roughly the center of that map, the Middle East could be anything between Europe and southern and eastern Asia.  How did North Africa get lumped in with this?  Perhaps because it is neither Europe nor southern/eastern Asia, looking at it through a purely physical geographical lens.  Or perhaps because ethnically and culturally, it shares more similarities with places like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan than with Nigeria, Mozambique, and South Africa.  Does it mean the Islamic world?  No, because Islam is practiced in other parts of the world.  Does it mean the Arab world?  Also no, because Arab peoples live in only certain parts of the Middle East.  My point here is that, as we discussed in class, there is a lot of overlap between culture, ethnicity, and geography, and that means that the term "Middle East" is extremely complex and not a little bit confusing.
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Syria's war: Who is fighting and why [Updated]

"After four-plus years of fighting, Syria's war has killed at least hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. And, though it started as a civil war, it's become much more than that. It's a proxy war that has divided much of the Middle East, and has drawn in both Russia and the United States. To understand how Syria got to this place, it helps to start at the beginning and watch it unfold."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This video is extremely helpful in understanding the conflict in Syria.  It provides a timeline of events, from the Arab Spring movement that ignited the conflict in 2011 to the present day.  The video discusses internal, regional, and global factors that have influenced the conflict, including how extremism and a complex web of alliances has muddied the waters of this war.
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Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, 29 October 2018, 01:37
The war in Syria has been devastating to Syrian's inhabitants. After six years of this conflict it has become a mess and is divided into four sections or groups, all backed different foreign backers. The backers have know become so confused on who there fighting for and what there fighting for, that is how messy this war has gotten. The use of chemical warfare has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. As to why there is a major Syrian refugee crisis. The conflict started as an internal war against Assad and rebels. This small civil war has know turned into a global conflict. I wish I could say what foreign countries are backing who and why but the lines are very blurred and there has been many back stabbing. All these foreign powers entering this war has established Syria as a great power dispute. The Assad and rebels conflict also brew the other two sections that are fighting in this region the Kurds who want their own nation. The Kurds are the largest cultural and ethnic group without a country. The entrance of the Kurds in the fighting brought in more foreign countries to either support their efforts or squash the Kurds hopes of obtaining a nation of there own. Then you have ISIS who formed as a branch out of the original rebels because there was an internal dispute. Overall this war is bloody and will never end if all these four sections cant come to an agreement. If there is no determination for peace there will never be peace.
David Stiger's curator insight, 31 October 2018, 22:59
Hearing about the news in Syria is usually tragic and frustrating. It is also equally confusing and this video helped to sort out its causes and important transformations over time. Even with the video's succinct explanation, the conflict is still a quagmire to understand. The fighting began during the 2011 Arab Spring when peaceful Syrian protesters were gunned down by Assad's military forces. Instead of backing down and caving into the violent repression, the Syrian civilians retaliated with small arms fire and were joined by Syrian army defectors. The now belligerent protesters formed their own rebel army, causing Syria to erupt into a civil war. Then Islamic extremists, including a terrorist groups, joined the rebels. Countries like Turkey and Jordan began funding and arming the rebels while Iran - a Shiite country - provided support to Assad. Appalled by the out-of-control death toll, the United States began training and arming the rebels - some of whom were from Al Qaeda! Assad's chemical weapons attack escalated U.S. involvement while Russia came to the side of Assad. Putin most likely supports Assad to maintain its lease of a key geographic asset - a warm-water naval base -while also discouraging internal rebellion. At some point a group of ethnic Kurds in northern Syria succeeded (Putin's fear) and began attacking Assad. But, Turkey started attacking the Kurds! Then in 2014 ISIS broke away from Al Qaeda and started attacking the Kurds and the rebels prompting the U.S. to redirect its focus away from the Assad regime. This has to be the messiest conflict in modern history and is entirely defined by proxy wars. Because the war is so convoluted and complicated, there is no end in sight. The relentless destruction over years has caused millions of refugees to flee to Europe because it is the closest stable place to Syria. This unprecedented wave of migrations will surely transform Europe and cripple Syria in the long run.  
Corey Rogers's curator insight, 15 December 2018, 05:18
Syria's war has gotten crazier and crazier and doesn't seem like there is a end in sight. The insane cross fighting between outside countries and the inner working of independence inside Syria itself is still an issue. A local protest has turned into an international fight against top countries of US and Russia.
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Climate Comparison Maps

Climate Comparison Maps | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"Triton1982 makes maps by comparing each of the city's highest and lowest average temperatures against the Koppen classification system."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This map is a great visual representation of the large temperature variations in Australia. I should also point out that this connects to the article I shared earlier about the distribution of Australia's population: notice how the climates of the perimeter of the country are relatively comfortable (with the possible exception of the northern portion that is similar to India). This puts Australia's climates into perspective, explaining why no one in their right mind would want to live in the interior, unless they enjoy slowly roasting to death.
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Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, 4 May 2018, 03:23
This is an interesting map that compares Australia's climate to that of other regions. By doing this, the artist clearly explains how vast Australia's climate truly is. Because of its size, it is possible to think that Australia would not have such a diverse climate. However, its regions are comparable to deserts, the tropics, and temperate zones.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 21:30
I found this very interesting. I always imagined Australia as a temperate cost with a vast dessert/prairie interior that was generally inhospitable. Though the interior part is true I learned that the coastal areas vary greatly in climate. This allows for a much more varied ecosystem in Australia than I ever imagined. 
Corey Rogers's curator insight, 16 December 2018, 01:39
This map makes it easier to understand the climate that is inside Australia. It is cool how every part of the country has its own unique climate. It also shows just how big Australia is and how crazy their climate can be. 
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Aborigines threaten to shut Uluru

Aborigines threaten to shut Uluru | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
Aboriginal leaders threaten to ban tourists from a top Australian landmark in protest at "racist" government policies.

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Interesting how the Aboriginal people of Australia are using geography as a form of protest, claiming that they will close down a popular tourist attraction in response to legislation.  Additionally, this article tackles the issue of race; the Aboriginal people were angry with the government in the first place was as a result of prejudiced legislation that targeted Aboriginal communities. It banned pornography and alcohol in 70 communities in an effort to curb the sexual abuse of children, which is reported at rates seven times higher among the Aboriginal people than the Australian average.  Although this is a serious problem that must be addressed, biased legislation is not the answer.
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Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 2 December 2015, 20:38

Re-scooped from Professor Dixon, this article is about Aborigines in Australia protesting "racist" government policies. It sounds like the Australian version of what would happen if America's Native Americans teamed up with a racial oppression organization. They are apparently threatening to shut down the most famous landmark in Australia to visitors if the government doesn't change it's position. I don't blame them, fight the power!!

Gene Gagne's curator insight, 11 December 2015, 00:08

the government punishing a whole culture for crimes is outrageous. Not all are guilty but all are punished. it is proven fact that more minorities in this country are incarcerated for drug usage than whites but that doesn't mean you jail all black people. The government is being racist because the aboriginal are poverty stricken group who do not contribute to society, they only have a population of 300,000 people. In the governments eyes they just exist on the land and do nothing for the economy. Well it must have some influence because they are protesting by not allowing tourists climb Uluru or Ayers rock. I guess the government will not be collecting permit fees or other fees associated with the climbing of the rock. Tourism should take a hit from hotel accomendations  to hiking tour guides to purchasing gear etc...

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 14 December 2015, 17:22

Australia has always had troubles dealing with their past actions against the native population of their island, and this will hopefully be a wake up call on the policies they have taken.

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Terraced Rice Fields

Terraced Rice Fields | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
See a photo of an aerial view of a terraced rice field in China and download free wallpaper from National Geographic.

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This is a stunning picture, but it's not just pretty to look at. From it, we can see some unique geographical clues. Could these terraced rice fields be found anywhere but East or Southeast Asia? Terraced fields have been cut into the mountains of this region for thousands of years, creating a unique landscape.
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, 18 March 2013, 15:14

This image shows is one of the more beautiful cultural landscapes that shows the great extent of agricultural  modifications of the environment.  National Geographic's photo of the day is a great source for images that start class discussions and can enliven class content. You may download a high resolution version of the image here

 

Tags: National Geographic, agriculture, landscape, China.

Jess Deady's curator insight, 5 May 2014, 02:42

Rice fields are pretty neat. You need to be one meticulous person to be able to build these fields. The shapes of them and the erosion that occurs to the oldest ones form interesting patterns. These ariel shots are worthwhile looking at and seeing where exactly the rice is growing is cool.

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Left For Dead: Myanmar’s Muslim Minority

In recent years, democratic reforms have swept through Myanmar, a country that for decades was ruled by a military junta. As the reforms took hold, however, things were growing progressively worse for the Rohingya, a heavily persecuted ethnic Muslim minority concentrated in the country's western state of Rakhine. The 2012 gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men ignited violent riots in which hundreds were killed as Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya attacked each other. In the following months, tens of thousands of Rohingya were rounded up and forced to live in squalid camps; Human Rights Watch deemed the attacks crimes against humanity that amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. Thousands of Rohingya have since attempted to leave the country, fueling the region's intricate and brutal human trafficking network.

 

Tags: Rohingya, genocide, migration, political, conflict, refugees, Burma, Southeast Asia.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This kind of ethnic conflict within a country is, in part, a result of colonial borders ignoring ethnic boundaries. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a Buddhist majority country, and they are extremely vulnerable to the ethnic cleansing currently happening. The systemic destruction of villages, massacres, and gang rapes by Buddhist vigilantes and Myanmar's military is nothing short of genocide, wiping out the Rohingya by killing them or forcing them to flee the country.
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Maeklong Railway Market

"Multi-purpose land use."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
In one video we see issues surrounding urban development, city planning (or lack thereof), population density, and land use, among other topics. As more and more people move into Southeast Asia's unplanned cities, there will be more crowding and people will have to use every last available inch of land, even if that means going right up to the train tracks. This is a culture shock to people in the West, where most land is single-use only.
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Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 7 December 2015, 19:59

This is insanity!! I've never seen anything like this! I always wondered why people who live in such squalor stay living in the area. If you have to pack your house up so a train to come through it might be time to move.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, 15 December 2015, 02:15
Definitely a good way for multi-purpose land use. They are utilizing the space they have conservatively, they really nailed this one on the head coming up with an idea to put a market right on a railroad track. Is this concept even safe or sanitary? Most definitely not. First off, it is not sanitary because that train on a daily basis has gone through all sorts of dirt and the train is literally passing right over the farmer's food that he is still going to sell to customers. Also, probably not the safest, because the people are just inches away from the passing train and with the wrong move, they can possibly fall onto the track and they are dead. I will hand it to them though, they act in an orderly fashion and move swiftly both when it comes and when it leaves. As a matter of fact, they go on with life so well after it leaves, it is almost like the train never passed through in the first place.
Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 3 May 2018, 17:16
Urban planning in a rapidly urbanizing area can be difficult, but in this area two very different urban entities use the land together so beautifully. This market was built around the train tracks and when the train passes through at a slow speed the market clears the tracks and both work together so flawlessly. This is uncommon for us to see because many cities in America had room to grow and expand and had ample planning time because urbanization happened much slower than it is in Asia, with urbanization happening so fast the countries need to use their space flexibly. 
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These Charts Show How Globalization Has Gone Digital

These Charts Show How Globalization Has Gone Digital | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"Yes, globalization. For many people, that word conjures up, at best, images of container ships moving manufactured goods from far-flung factories. At worst, it harkens back to acrid debates about trade deficits, currency wars and jobs moving to China. In fact, since the Great Recession of 2008, the global flow of goods and services has flattened, and cross-border capital flows have declined sharply. But globalization overall isn't on the wane. Like so much in our world today, it has reinvented itself by going digital."

 

Tags: technology, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Globalization is a process that has been occurring for centuries.  However, modern technology is making globalization faster than ever, and has enabled globalization to shift to a more information- and knowledge-based exchange rather than ever as well thanks to the Internet.
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Alex Smiga's curator insight, 14 March 2016, 23:31
The times, they are a-changin'
Alisha Meyer's curator insight, 24 March 2016, 13:04
Our world is changing, that is inevitable.  It's how we decide to use the technology and knowledge we now have to better ourselves or destroy ourselves.
Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, 19 January 2018, 00:46

This chart is pretty straight forward, yet it clearly lays out the difference between 20th and 21st century Globalization patterns. Through modern invention and progress in technology the world has become a place where connections can be created at the speed of light. Through technology, the world no longer has to wait for the physical movement of goods and ideas, at the touch of a button information can be in anyone's hands 

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There Are More Boys Than Girls in China and India

There Are More Boys Than Girls in China and India | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.
Nicole Canova's insight:
The gender imbalance in India and China is a result of a historic preference for boys combined with modern technology. For centuries, Chinese and Indian cultures have assigned far more value to boys than to girls: in both countries, boys stay with their families for life, obliged by tradition to care for their parents in their old age and acting as a sort of insurance policy, protecting their elderly parents from poverty and caring for them when they could no longer take care of themselves. In both countries, girls were seen as a waste because they would go to live with their husband's family as soon as they were married; it has been said that parents of girls are really raising another family's daughter, not their own.  Then in 1979, China enacted a one child policy, and parents were more eager than ever to ensure that their one child would be a boy, often resorting to infanticide. And in the 1980s and '90s, the technology became available to determine a fetus' gender in utero, and sex-selective abortions became a wide-spread practice in both China and India.

Both countries have since come to the realization that years of this artificial gender imbalance will have disastrous consequences for decades to come. With thousands more boys than girls born every year, China and India do not have enough young women to marry young men-- estimates show that there will be 30-40 million more marriageable men than marriageable women in two years. This has had several consequences already, including an increase in human trafficking in both countries, where women from around southeast Asia are kidnapped and either sold as brides or sold into sex slavery. China and India's gender imbalance has also meant that traditional gender roles are coming under scrutiny, as many unmarried men are still relying on their mothers because they refuse to do "women's work," and the men who do cave to the need to take care of themselves become depressed by perceiving themselves as emasculated by having to cook and clean and do laundry.

tldr: Traditional preference for male children in China and India combined with modern technology led to the widespread use of gender-selective abortions in the 1980s, '90s, and early 2000s.  The scale of this practice has led to massive gender disparities in both countries and is already having profound consequences in the region which will persist for generations.
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Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name.

Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name. | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
The Independent's concerns over Hindu nationalism led to a change in policy.

 

The city has been officially known as Mumbai since 1995 when it was renamed by the far-right regional party Shiv Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently holds national office in India. Shiv Sena advocates the use of the Marathi language, which is dominant in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital. Marathi speakers have long referred to the city as Mumbai, after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city's patron deity.

Shiv Sena had argued that the previous name, Bombay, was an unwanted relic of British colonial rule in India. That name is believed to be an Anglicized version of the city's name from when it was occupied by the Portuguese — "Bom Bahia," which means "good bay." Both Bombay and Mumbai are now used interchangeably by locals during casual conversation.

 

Tags: culture, India, South Asia, colonialism, place, regions, language, toponyms.


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
This highlights a significant part of decolonization.  When colonial powers like Great Britain, France, etc. took control of lands in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, they gave places new names.  This enforced their legitimacy as the colonial power in places by chipping away the local identity and replacing it with their own.  After colonization, many countries renamed places in the language of that region, stripping away unwanted remainders of colonial rule and reinstating their own local and national identity.
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Matt Manish's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 00:52
Personally, I find it very silly that a single newspaper in England is taking on the role of bringing Mumbai back to its original colony name. If Mumbai is the official name of the city then news being reported about that city should be in reference to Mumbai, not Bombay. The goal of this newspaper should be to educate its readers about the stories it is reporting on and not confusing them by using an old name for the city of Mumbai. This also seems a bit ridiculous to me because there is not a large margin of people trying to bring the old name of Bombay back to this city. It is only this newspaper trying to bring about this name change, which I feel makes their articles more confusing for their readers.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 20:08
This is a tough situation. Do you refer to a city by the name given to it by its colonial masters or to the name it was changed to by ethnic or religious nationalists? Honestly neither is an out-right great option, both have negative connotations. The people of the city use both Mumbai and Bombay interchangeably in everyday conversation, so id the best option to ignore the rest?  There are many other cities and nations whos names have changed after colonization, or by extremist. How will those be judged by the media or by the people within them?
 
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Half of African species 'face extinction'

Half of African species 'face extinction' | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
The findings come after the death of the last male northern white rhino.
Nicole Canova's insight:
On Monday, the world's last remaining male northern white rhino died, meaning the almost certain extinction of that subspecies.  In the wake of this tragedy, it is important to acknowledge that half of Africa's species are in danger of sharing that fate.  This has been caused by decades of deforestation and habitat loss to the exploitation of natural resources, as well as the poaching of animals for economic gain.  If humans do not act, we risk losing some of the world's most beautiful creatures.
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African dams linked to over one million malaria cases annually

African dams linked to over one million malaria cases annually | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it

"Over one million people in sub-Saharan Africa will contract malaria this year because they live near a large dam, according to a new study which, for the first time, has correlated the location of large dams with the incidence of malaria and quantified impacts across the region. The study finds that construction of an expected 78 major new dams in sub-Saharan Africa over the next few years will lead to an additional 56,000 malaria cases annually."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Dams are often built to provide hydroelectric power or to prevent flooding, which makes them beneficial.  But in some parts of the world, they cause more problems than they solve.  Dams lead to stagnant water, which can mean disaster in tropical and subtropical climates such as most of sub-Saharan Africa.  These climates, combined with huge amounts of stagnant water, mean an explosion of mosquitoes, which carry such diseases as malaria.
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Gene Gagne's curator insight, 4 November 2015, 20:59

I hope they have the shots for immunization against malaria.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, 17 November 2015, 03:39

This is a great article on the side affects of man made infrastructure. While dams can be used in positive ways they can also have negative effects like this that probably were not even considered.

brielle blais's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 03:35
Physical geographies can affect a lot of things. Areas close to dams draw in mosquitos that pass malaria to bitten people. While the dams are built to help the development of Africa, helping economic growth, maintaining agriculture, etc, the development won't be sustained if the population can't be sustained because everyone is dying from malaria. 
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Combatting FGM

"The United Nations Development Programme started to advocate against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) back in 2003 when it was taboo even to speak about it. In 2008, the practice was banned. The government of Egypt has institutionalized the adoption of FGM abandonment; while prevalence rates remain high (namely among older women), the response of younger girls and mothers of new generations to FGM abandonment campaigns is much higher."


Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice that is or has been instituted in many countries around the world, predominantly throughout Africa and Asia.  Since the United Nations Development Programme started campaigning to end the practice in 2003, rates of FGM have dropped throughout the world.  Although it is too late for many older women, younger women and girls have received information about the harmful effects of FGM, and through them cultural attitudes toward the practice are shifting; because of that, millions of girls for generations to come may be spared from becoming victims of FGM.
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, 7 February 2017, 20:41

This is always a difficult topic for me to talk about in my college classes since it is such a sensitive topic.  However, because it touches on so many taboo topics, that is the very reason that that practice of FGM has continued in many African and Middle Eastern countries.  See the map embedded in this article to know which countries have the highest prevalency rates.  Some are concerned that through relocation diffusion, international migrants can bring this practice to areas such as Europe. Western efforts to eradicate FGM are usually ineffective and sometimes backfire (the author in the linked articles feels that the term mutilation, while accurate, is counterproductive).

 

Tags: culture, gender, media

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Hijab: Veiled in Controversy

Hijab: Veiled in Controversy | Geography 200 Digital Portfolio | Scoop.it
Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body.

Via Seth Dixon
Nicole Canova's insight:
Hijab is the expression of a concept of modesty.  It is not specific to one religion, nor is it specific to one region.  This expression of modesty is encouraged, but not clearly defined, in Islam's holy texts; rather, it is informed by personal or cultural notions of what it means to be modest.  Hijab's association with extreme or radical Islam has led to heated debates in Western nations about whether or not it is acceptable for people to express hijab, with many people citing "national/public security" as a reason to ban certain coverings.
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Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, 26 March 2017, 02:43

Migration raises issues of cultural acceptance and integration 

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 23 March 2018, 16:42
This article is about Hijabs and it talks about the religious aspect of Hijabs versus the cultural aspect. It states that the hijab is a sign of modesty, which is not a strictly Muslim ideology, but is addressed in many religions. It also talks about how the hijab is not directly mentioned in the Quran. It states that the hijab is almost as much a cultural symbol instead of a religious one and talks about countries with laws about hijabs and how women should dress. 
David Stiger's curator insight, 31 October 2018, 15:29
The geography of the hijab is important for Westerners to understand. Only two countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, require women to dress by the strict standards of hijab. The vast majority of Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim countries around the world do not have a legal dress code for women. Some laws and cultural traditions encourage women to dress modestly. Other countries like Tunisia, Turkey, and Syria (all predominantly Muslim) had laws to restrict women from wearing the hijab in order to be more secular and modern. Many other countries, like Pakistan and Jordan, do not have any laws on the book concerning if women should or should not wear a hijab. These countries understand that it is a personal choice regarding privacy, reputation, and personal faith. Like many religious precepts, the concept of hijab is open to interpretation. As a result, a Westerner can safely assume that having a large Muslim population, or a significant number of Muslims operating in a government, will not lead to a takeover of Sharia law or oppressive fundamentalist codes of behavior. Instead of being afraid of the unknown and making assumptions about entire societies, Westerners should find out more and be exposed to how diverse and broad differing cultures and societies can be.