Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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Spotify data shows how music preferences change with latitude

Spotify data shows how music preferences change with latitude | Geography Education |

"The farther from the equator, the greater the seasonal swings."

Seth Dixon's insight:

I’m not posting this in spite of its controversial nature—I am sharing this precisely because it raises eyebrows.  Many have read this and see elements of environmental determinism while simultaneous recognizing some of its core assumptions.  Arctic communities have devastatingly high suicide rates that most agree is in part impacted by the cold weather, the lack of sunshine, or in other words, the physical environment.


Questions to Ponder: How much environmental determinism actually is in this research and its assumptions?  How much does latitude impact the human condition?  How much of a factor is the environment in shaping cultural patterns?  How would you adapt to the physical environment if you lived north of the the Arctic Circle? 


GeoEd Tags: environment, musicArcticenvironment adapt, unit 1 geoprinciples. Tags: environment, musicArctic, environment adapt, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

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Why houses in Bermuda have white stepped roofs

Why houses in Bermuda have white stepped roofs | Geography Education |
The island of Bermuda has no fresh-water springs, rivers or lakes so the design of its roofs is essential for collecting rainwater.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is such as distinct, localized example of how people adapt to their physical environment.  It explains why a particularly cultural landscape is prevalent, and the article nicely shows how traditional island living comes into conflict with tourist expectations and consumption patterns.  Tons of good geographic factors in this issue for students to analyze. 


Tags: water, tourism, sustainabilityarchitecture, consumption, landscape, Bermuda, environment adapt.

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What are Lavakas?

What are Lavakas? | Geography Education |

"The word lavaka means 'hole' or 'gully' in Malagasy, and it has become the accepted international term for the spectacular erosional features that characterize the highlands of Madagscar. Lavakas are gullies formed by groundwater flow, with steep or vertical sides and flat floors."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Lavakas are often seen as an ecological catastrophe since rapid deforestion leads to young, active lavakas that can silt up rice fields.  While obviously not desirable, these scars on a deforested landscape do offer a glimmer of hope as well. Some National Geographic explorers are finding that older, stabilized lavakas can become great agricultural pockets for rebuilding in these denuded communities.


Tags: Madagascar, erosion, environment adapt,  environmentecology, political ecology, Africa, National Geographic.

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Why are we so reliant on air conditioning? (It's not just climate change, it's bad design)

Why are we so reliant on air conditioning? (It's not just climate change, it's bad design) | Geography Education |
Air conditioners have made architects lazy, and we've forgotten how to design houses that might work without it.

A hundred years ago, a house in Florida looked different than a house in New England. The northern house might be boxy, have relatively small windows, almost always two stories with low ceilings, and a big fireplace in the middle. 

In Florida, the house might have high ceilings, tall double-hung windows, and deep porches. Trees would be planted around the house to block the sun. 

Today, houses pretty much look the same wherever you go in North America, and one thing made this possible: central air conditioning. Now, the United States uses more energy for air conditioning than 1 billion people in Africa use for everything.

Tags: planning, architecture, housingurban, place, environment adaptenergyconsumption.

Seth Dixon's insight:

The recent demographic shift to the "Sun Belt" in the U.S.  coincides with the mass availability of air conditioning (among other factors).  Our homes are less regionally distinct and in terms of the human/environmental interactions, our answer is greater modifications as opposed to regional adaptations...this article is a call for more architectural improvements instead of more energy consumption to beat the heat.  In Europe however, they see the United States as "over air-conditioned" in the summer.

Stephen Zimmett's curator insight, July 23, 2015 1:12 PM


James Piccolino's curator insight, February 8, 2018 7:04 AM
This intrigues me as both a former student of Architecture at CACTC and as a lover of the comforts of air conditioning. This argument is similar to the argument of most technology. We have adapted to become more dependent on air conditioning, and thus it has had an effect on the way we operate. This leads to uniformity in designs where simplicity can overtake the dwindling need for variation due to climate. The more that technology can change the climate to what we desire (at least in our homes) the less variation we will need over time. Whether this is good or bad depends on what side of the argument you fall to.
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Over population, over consumption - in pictures

Over population, over consumption - in pictures | Geography Education |

"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."

Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

Tags: environmentlandscape, images, environment depend, environment adapt, environment modify, pollution, resourcessustainability.

SRA's curator insight, April 14, 2015 8:16 PM

Jordan Linhart

It is absolutely astounding to me how we are so continually growing and expanding as a human race. What's more astounding to me is how quickly we are depleting and wasting all of the resources we have been given. Don't get me wrong, I was aware there were 7 pushing 8 billion of us on the planet, but growing up in the suburbs I wasn't as aware of it as I could have been. Ignorance is bliss, right? It breaks my heart to see the clearing of beautiful forests, the once turquoise water of Haiti filled with trash, and the death of animals that accidentally stumbled upon our waste. If we as humans don't start taking care of our planet, there won't be any where left for us to over populate, or even populate for that matter.

Eden Eaves's curator insight, May 24, 2015 7:56 PM

Unit 6

These eye opening photos paint a perfect picture of what the world will be like in years to come if we keep living the way we do. There are pictures of trash waves, extreme deforestation, hill-side slums, thousands of fields of oil wells, and overwhelming crowds of people.  

Angela Muster's curator insight, February 21, 2016 12:02 PM

It is important to see pictures like this one to help visualize just how much population, pollution, and consumption are effecting our world. Awareness is vital for change.

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How Wolves Change Rivers

"When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable 'trophic cascade' occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers?"

Seth Dixon's insight:

When a complex system gets one aspect of it changed, there are many other changes that occur, some of which are nearly impossible to envision beforehand.  Here is some Oregon State research on the changes in Yellowstone's ecosystems and physical environments since the introduction of wolves. 

Tagsecology, biogeography, environment, environment adapt, physical, fluvial.

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How geography affects animal evolution

How geography affects animal evolution | Geography Education |
A new and potentially more revealing way of studying how animal evolution is affected by the geography of climate has been designed by researchers at The University of Nottingham and Harvard University.

Tags: biogeography, environmentweather and climate, environment adapt.

Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, November 30, 2014 8:50 AM



La mayor extensión de hábitat climáticamente extremas sugiere un mayor potencial de reducción de la dispersión de los lagartos y aislamiento por el ambiente a lo largo de gradientes altitudinales tropicales en La Española. Por el contrario, climáticamente hábitat extremo es más raro en Cuba así un mayor flujo de genes a través de elevaciones puede limitar el papel de los procesos interespecíficos en esta isla.

Raven Blair's curator insight, January 12, 2015 9:38 AM

Geography affects the evolution of animals, which is, in a way, the development of the animals. The study of their evolution, conducted by a team from Nottingham and Harvard has shown that there are certain traits connecting the environment to an animal's body type. When looking at the different islands of Cuba, it is easy to differentiate the patterns of the animals.  

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World’s Largest Dam Removal Unleashes U.S. River After Century of Electric Production

World’s Largest Dam Removal Unleashes U.S. River After Century of Electric Production | Geography Education |
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.

Seth Dixon's insight:

See also this video to see the rapid changes on the nearby White Salmon River when they removed the dam. 

Tags: biogeography, environment, land use, sustainability, environment adapt.

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Island Biogeography

Part I, island biogeography in a World Regional here to watch part II, why island biogeography matters in places that aren't on islands.  All links archived at:

Seth Dixon's insight:

Island biogeography operates on different principles than we see on the continents.  Soem extraordinary creatures such as the komodo dragon and thylacine can be found in isolated places removed interactions with more generalist species.  Alfred Russel Wallace made some extraordinary discoveries combining biology and spatial thinking. 


Island biogeography is pertinent today since habitat fragmentation (from urbanization and argicultural land uses) has rendered 'islands' out of the wilderness that isn't being used by humanity.  Some animals such as the cougar are locally extinct from their historic ranges (extirpation).

Tags: biogeography, environmentecology, Australia, Oceania.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:06 PM
Island Biogeography is the theoretical explanations as to why species occurs, it also studies the species composition and species richness on an island.. it is not specific to land masses around water. Isolation gives species a strong place in their environment. The fact that new species and things show up are amazing, but sometimes new species are not properly adapted because there is no other general force against them and they do not ever learn to defend themselves.
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, December 9, 2018 10:50 PM
Island life is very diverse as compared to continental life. The shifting plates pulling lands apart and pushing lands together contributed a lot to the diversity we see on islands. Even though Australia is a huge continent it is just as diverse as the smallest island. Islands are so unique with there biogeography because isolation + time = divergence (specialized niches). Species have time to adapt to there habitat with little completion. The divergence of islands is also what makes them so fragile because there is nothing like it anywhere else on earth. If something goes extinct on an Island it is gone for good.
Corey Rogers's curator insight, December 15, 2018 8:47 PM
It is amazing to see how remote islands can create such unique creatures and wildlife animals. The more you see these animals the more you want to go and learn about how they formed and how they became to be one of those unique animals. 
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Can We Save Venice?

Can We Save Venice? | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

Venice is sinking--no news there.  Some of the sinking is natural based on the geomorphological processes on being in a lagoon and some is based on how people have modified the physical landscape.  The GREEN on the map represents restoration efforts to stabilize the city while the RED indicates that human-caused activities have produced sinking.  Additionally in this new study, researchers have used remote sensing data to differentiate between the anthropogenic sinking (human-caused sinking) and the natural sinking in Venice.  This city is a perfect example of the three major types of human and environmental interactions [we 1) depend on the environment, 2) adapt to the environment and 3) modify the environment] and shows the issues associated with these interactions.  Click here for a hi-res image of Venice and to see why I love the city. 

Tags: remote sensing, geospatial, physical, environment, geomorphology, erosion, environment modify.


Jason Wilhelm's curator insight, October 7, 2013 12:42 PM

This detailed account of the problems faced by the people, and city, of Venice is a great account of the idea of Human Environment Interaction that is central to Human Geography. Human actions are causing the city to sink while more human actions are attempting to raise the city out of the water.

Courtney Burns's curator insight, November 28, 2013 3:24 PM

It is no surprise to anyone that one day the beautiful city of Venice will one day be completely submerged under water. However looking at this map makes it hopeful that the process may be slowed down or even stopped! Looking at the map the green boxes represent the parts of Venice that have been uplifted, while the red boxes represent the parts that are sinking. What was surprising was that there appeared to be more green boxes on the map than red. Most of the boxes, both green and red, are along the coastline. I would think since most of the damage is along the coast line it would be a little easier to try and uplift. Hopefully the green boxes can make up for the red boxes in order to keep Venice from continually sinking. With these advances who knows where we will be in even another twenty years. We may be able to continue to uplift Venice to prevent it from submerging under water. It appears that the city is making progress in this process from the data given in the map. 

Steven Flis's curator insight, December 16, 2013 3:53 AM

As we all know Venice is known for its lack of streets because the city is navigated by canals. This map shows where humans are actually causing the city to sink (in red) and where through restoration and consideration are helping the city stay afloat (Green). These little acts of restoration can become increasinly important in the future with growing population density. Lets hope that Venice doesnt get to populated though so the next generation dosent have to refer to it as the lost underwater city of venice.

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6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You

6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You | Geography Education |
From the food we eat to the energy, transportation, and water we all need, a warmer world will bring big changes for everyone.


B Sinica: This article touches every aspect of geography from culture to climate [considering] how the growing population plays the biggest role in determining the future of life on Earth.  People need to recognize the problems and potential future issues with global warming and the rapidly changing environment.  Though not many issues can be prevented or even solved, the least we can do is try to lessen the severity of devastation and prolong the current conditions as much as possible before the world becomes too extreme to manage.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Some tangible ways that climate change can impact us in the future:

  • Food Security
  • Energy consumption
  • Extreme Weather
  • Drought
  • Health risks (more air-born diseases)
  • Vulnerable urban ecologies

Tags: climate change, environment, environment adapt, sustainability. National Geographic.

Brianna Simao's comment, April 30, 2013 10:22 PM
It is kind of a scary thought that global warming could greatly disrupt the way we live. Everyone is affected by it especially businesses like farms. The production of crops declines because of the excessive heat. Changing climate affect the length of each season which hurts the process of growing and harvesting crops. There would also be a change in the production, storage and transportation. It will cost more money to properly manage these businesses. This change will not only affect companies and how we handle our food but also our way of life and health. We would all have to adapt to such drastic changes in the environment which may be a struggle for some. Health wise, if it is too hot and people are not well adapted then it could lead to hospitalization and increased health risks. I don’t think there is much we can do to lessen the severity because it is a natural cycle of earth. I do think we may have sped up the process a little bit, for example car exhaustion and greenhouse gasses. But we are so dependent on such technology we can’t just make it disappear.
Dillon Cartwright's comment, May 3, 2013 4:04 PM
It's crazy that something like a little climate change can change the affect the entire world. Not just in one way either, it affects the world in many ways, like the 6 mentioned above. I don't think people realize the frailty of the environment they live in. Something as small as someones car exhaust becomes kind of a big deal when there are hundreds of millions of cars in the world.
In addition to that, I think it's great that life expectancy has gone up with cures to diseases and advances in modern medicine. It's a good thing that people are living longer lives, but it's a problem when these people aren't environmentally conscious. If there is going to be a consistent increase in population, there should also be an increase in environmental awareness so everyone can work together in slowing down this destructive process.
Victoria McNamara's curator insight, December 12, 2013 1:03 PM

Climate change is going to affect how we live in the future. It will cause lack of food, energy sources, health risks, climate changes, drought etc. It is because of our growing population and the amount of people the world has to take care of for all of us to survive. We are also using too many of its resources too quickly. What could we do now to try to slow down the process of it happening? 

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Remote Sensing Images

Remote Sensing Images | Geography Education |
It's already unlikely we'll get a view as good as the ones collected in "Earth As Art"
Seth Dixon's insight:

This article and the selected gallery is based on the free e-book "Earth as Art" which I've mentioned here before earlier.  This particular image is fantastic for teaching about geomorphology and river systems.  Students can 'see' the historical layers of a meandering stream winding it's way across the landscape.  Connecting the physical geography to human geography, analyzing the flood plains can help explain the land use and settlement patterns in this Mississippi Delta image.   

UPDATE: Here's another meandering stream image (Willamette River, Oregon) that shows the dynamism of fluvial processes quite nicely.

Steven Sutantro's curator insight, December 20, 2012 8:56 PM

the beauty of our earth...

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Climate Change Video Guide

Climate Change Video Guide | Geography Education |
An in-depth, multimedia look at climate change, its global impact, and efforts to combat it.

This guide on climate change from the Council on Foreign Relations (independent think tank) covers many of the geopolitical, economic and environmental issues that confront the Earth as global temperatures rise.  Rather than produce a full length feature film, they have organized the this as an interactive video, allowing the user to get short (a couple of minutes) answer to specific questions about the science, foreign policy or economic ramifications of adapting to climate change. 

Tags: climate change, environmental adaption, economic, industry.

Seth Dixon's comment, November 27, 2012 8:21 AM
Thanks for sharing this Giovanni!!
Giovanni Della Peruta's comment, November 27, 2012 8:38 AM
Thanks to you, Seth! :-)
Jose Sepulveda's comment, January 13, 2013 8:58 AM
Very good information, Thanks!
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As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream | Geography Education |
A costly plan to build floating islands shows how climate change is pushing the search for innovative solutions, but some critics ask who will ultimately benefit.
Seth Dixon's insight:

As coastal communities are considering what the tangible impacts of climate change might be, things that were once considered science fiction could be a part of how people adapt to the modifications we've collectively made to our global environment that we depend on to sustain life.  


Tags: physicaltechnologysustainability, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastal, environment dependenvironment adapt, environment modify.

Ivan Ius's curator insight, February 14, 2017 7:49 PM
Geographic Thinking Concepts: Patterns and Trends, Interrelationships, Geographic Perspective.
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Skokomish River salmon cross the road

"Watch salmon race across the road on their way to spawn; for more footage, watch this extended version."

Seth Dixon's insight:

We often see examples of how human modifications to ecosystems or watersheds have devastatingly negative impacts.  This is a remarkable example from Washington's Olympic Peninsula that shows the resiliency of natural systems to overcome human modifications to the physical landscape.  If you study the world, you will always have something to both amaze and surprise you.   


Tagsfluvial, biogeography, environment, geomorphology, physicalwater, environment adapt, environment modify.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, December 17, 2016 11:45 PM

Sometimes the natural world finds ways to adapt to human environmental changes. 

Useful when studying inland water / rivers for the option study. 

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Living Bridges

"In Northeast India just north of Bangladesh is the province of Meghalaya."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The living bridges of Meghalaya are truly sights to behold; these astonishing bridges are a natural way that local people have adapted to an incredibly flood-prone environment.  The organic building materials prevent erosion and keep people in contact during times of flood.  Here is another video and articles (BBC, Atlas Obscura, Inhabitat, and MNN) with more ecological and cultural context on these living bridges. 

Tags: environment, environment adapt, SouthAsia, water, weather climate, indigenousbiogeography.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 20, 2015 4:16 PM

I think these bridges are of great value to the world... Nature provides us with such amazing natural resources. There is really no need to do half the damage we do to it. what a beautiful way to keep the environment's natural beauty intacted


Kimmy Jay's curator insight, November 20, 2015 6:28 PM

H/E Interaction 


Douglas Vance's curator insight, April 21, 2018 12:58 PM
These living bridges are an ingenious way to construct long lasting and incredibly durable bridges in a region of the world that is enormously flood-prone during the monsoon season. These bridges are ideal because they do not crumble like concrete is prone to do and they cannot rust. This is a prime example of people working with the materials available to them to stay connected.
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Floods might have doomed prehistoric American city

Floods might have doomed prehistoric American city | Geography Education |
Cahokia settlement's decline began in 1200, around time of major Mississippi River surge.
Seth Dixon's insight:

In a flat landscape, what represents power more than a towering mound?  My family loved our excursion to this site and it show so many geographic issues. 

Tagsfluvial, geomorphology, erosion, landscape, environment depend, environment adapthistorical.

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Ecological Corridors

"Various ecological, political and economic perspectives on habitat fragmentation from the West Wing: season 1, episode 5."

Seth Dixon's insight:

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.

Tags: biogeography, transportation, environment, land use, sustainability, environment adapt.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, February 11, 2015 3:58 PM

read Seth's comments before viewing this excellent clip from West Wing. 

dilaycock's curator insight, February 13, 2015 5:20 AM

Engaging short clip that highlights the complex issues surrounding the conservation vs development debate.

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Images of Human/Environmental Interactions

Images of Human/Environmental Interactions | Geography Education |
The blizzard of 2015 blasted the region with wind-whipped snow that piled nearly 3-feet high in some places.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, Boston set a new record for snowiest seven-day period in the city's history with 34.2 inches.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Weather is one of the most tangible ways in which the physical environment impacts society.  We depend on sunlight and rainfall, we adapt our behaviors to harsh conditions and we are constantly modifying the our environments by heating and cooling our buildings.  This Henry David Thoreau quote reminds us to acknowledge the powerful influence of the environment and to recognize that technological fixes have their limitations.  “Live in each season as it passes...and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” --Henry David Thoreau

Question to Ponder: In what ways does the weather shape and influence culture and spatial patterns in your region?  How can we make our communities more handicap accessible during winter storms and other extreme conditions?

Tags: environmentweather and climateenvironment depend, environment adapt, environment modify, disasters.

Seth Dixon's curator insight, February 4, 2015 9:11 PM

Weather is one of the most tangible ways in which the physical environment impacts society.  We depend on sunlight and rainfall, we adapt our behaviors to harsh conditions and we are constantly modifying the our environments by heating and cooling our buildings.  This Henry David Thoreau quote reminds us to acknowledge the powerful influence of the environment and to recognize that technological fixes have their limitations.  “Live in each season as it passes...and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” --Henry David Thoreau

Question to Ponder: In what ways does the weather shape and influence culture and spatial patterns in your region?  How can we make our communities more handicap accessible during winter storms and other extreme conditions?

Tags: environmentweather and climateenvironment depend, environment adapt, environment modify, disasters.

Paul Farias's curator insight, February 5, 2015 2:16 PM

Not to mention the snow drifts up to 10-12 feet!

Evan Margiotta's curator insight, March 21, 2015 6:39 PM

Human/Environment Interaction is one of the principles of Geography. Weather is about the simplest form of Human/Environment action there is. Weather and climate effect humans in may ways. Both of these have direct impact on agriculture and because of this the rise of civilization in the fertile crescent. But weather doesn't just dictate the rise of agriculture and civilization it effects us everyday. The picture shows Boston covered in record breaking snow fall. This altered many peoples schedules, closed businesses, canceled sporting events, forced people to spend time shoveling snow, gave work for snow plowers, and all in all effected the entirety of Boston.

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Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life

Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life | Geography Education |
Ninety percent of Tibetans share a genetic mutation that prevents their blood from becoming dangerously clogged with red blood cells at high altitudes—a response that can be deadly for non-native mountaineers. Karen Hopkin reports.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Genetic adaptations to a specific environment show how people are can be culturally and environmentally tied to a given land.  While most geographers are nervous to mention examples such as these for fear of being labeled too 'environmentally deterministic,' it does not hurt to show how that it is possible.  The fear of having your ideas be labeled and environmental determinism shouldn't stop us from exploring the human/environmental interface. 

Tags: environment, environment adapt, East Asia.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, April 15, 2015 9:45 AM

This is extremely interesting.  When I think of the mutated gene that most Tibetans have I think of evolution happening right in front of our eyes.  Most lowland humans would not be able to survive at the Tibetan level of living, which goes to show you that over time the people who live in this area were naturally selected due to the special genes of their ancestors who survived while others without the gene died off.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 1:01 PM

The Tibetans are very amazing in the ways to adapting to high altitudes. Being 15,000 ft in elevation with 40% less oxygen than at sea level is very impressive. Many people like myself would find it difficult breathing in this conditions , but the Tibetans developed a mutation that lead them to not having their red blood cells clogged at this elevation. A perfect example of human adapting to their surrounding environment.

David Stiger's curator insight, October 23, 2018 11:28 AM
Humans often shape their environments, but, like all other animal species, the environment can fundamentally shape human beings at the molecular level. In order to not just merely survive, but to thrive, humans adapt to challenging environmental conditions. In Tibet, inhabitants live 15,000 feet above sea level. For non-natives, this sort of altitude could cause lethal blood clots. To overcome this challenge, the genes of average Tibetans have adapted overtime. Some 90 percent of the entire population possess a unique mutated gene that allows them to breathe without trouble and avoid red blood cell blockages. This trait goes back nearly 8,000 years, making Tibetans a very distinct population - akin to red haired men and women in Ireland. Not wanting to promote pseudo-science like eugenics, it is important to note that these people are not more or less human. But, because of their environment, they have surface level (physical and secondary) traits that help them cope with nature. Understanding this should impact the Han Chinese views of Tibet. At the molecular level, the Tibetans are a distinct and independent people who deserve the right to self-determination. Of course, China will never yield the resource-rich territory. 
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Ethiopia's Dam Problems

Ethiopia's Dam Problems | Geography Education |

"Ethiopia is three years from completing a dam to control its headwaters, and while Egypt points to colonial-era treaties to claim the water and to stop the project, the question remains as to who own the Blue Nile."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This 7-minute Geography News Network podcast (written by Julie and Seth Dixon) touches on some key geographic concepts.  85% of the Nile's water comes from the Blue Nile that originates in the Ethiopian highlands--it is the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has been working on damming since 2011.  The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be located  near the border with Sudan.  Egypt is adamantly opposed to Ethiopia's plan and is actively lobbying the international community to stop construction on the dam, fearing their water supply with be threatened. 

Tags: Ethiopia, Africa, development. environment, water, energy, borders, political.

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, July 20, 2014 8:00 PM

Option: Inland water 

dilaycock's curator insight, July 21, 2014 9:09 PM

Useful example to illustrate the interactions and tensions between natural resources and political systems.

Kate Buckland's curator insight, July 26, 2014 10:38 PM

At least the Murray-Darling Basin is within one country - even if it covers 4 states!

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Maldives | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

The Maldives is a small country in the Indian Ocean composed of 1,200 islands.  Virtually every spot in this country is under 8 feet in elevation.  Pictured above is the capital of Malé, which has the largest population (explore these islands on a variety of scales).   

Questions to Ponder: What physical forces and processes account for the presence of these islands in the Ocean?  In a geological time scale, what does the future hold for these islands.  What would be the main economic assets of the Maldives?  What would be the main economic and environmental concerns of this country?

Tags: density, sustainability, economicenvironment, environment adaptclimate change, urban ecology.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 10:39 PM

The Maldives Islands were created by Hotspots in the Pacific Ocean. Many of the one thousand islands that are there are slowly disappearing. The islands are being destroyed by rain and from sea waves that crash onto the island itself. Soon the land, just like Kiribati will disappear because they just keep shrinking in size more and more. Their economy revolves mostly around tourist money and parts of the islands have been highly developed for high end tourist marketing.  

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 19, 2015 4:33 AM

Honestly a nation like the Maldives would only be possible with today's technology. the lack of resources, land and linking landmass would have made it stuck in an era with villages at best. The modern country if you ask me is also a disaster waiting to happen. Their cities are right on sea level. A single tsunami or storm would devastate them never mind rising sea levels. I just think they are acting unsustainable and their growth without lack of native resources will lead to their nations ultimate failure. While I wish these people success their islands are also eroding due to reefs so geography is pretty much against them at every turn. In the future hopefully a solution to these problems can be found but until then this will likely be an area that will have to be evacuated in the future like many others.

Olivia Campanella's curator insight, December 14, 2018 10:41 PM
The Maldives is a Republic south west of the Indian subcontinent. It is made up of a chain of 1200 islands which most of them are uninhabited. The economy on Maldives resolves around tourism and scores of islands have been developed for the top end of the tourism market.
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Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway

Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway | Geography Education |

"Every so often, if you ride Moscow's crowded subways, you may notice that the commuters around you include a dog - a stray dog, on its own, just using the handy underground Metro to beat the traffic and get from A to B.  Yes, some of Moscow's stray dogs have figured out how to use the city's immense and complex subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Even if only a small fraction of strays have figured out how to navigate the subway system, it represents another example of how animals have adapted to the urban ecosystem in a way that human did not intend.  The dogs get on the subway in the morning and go downtown searching for food and return to the suburbs to sleep.  This has been circulating on social media sites, and I find it endlessly fascinating.   

Tags: urban ecologyRussia, environment adapt, biogeography.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 11:06 AM

Humans commonly think of themselves as separate from nature.  However, we very much are a part of it and animals, like these stray dogs, know it.  When dealing with something more powerful than yourself, you have to learn how to navigate the system in order to survive.  That is exactly what these dogs have done, literally and figuratively, by learning the complex subway systems in Moscow.  It is an example of how animals can adapt to their man-made surroundings and how persistent (the rest of) nature can be.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:51 PM

Every so often, if you ride Moscow's crowded subways, you notice that the commuters around you include a stray dog. Some of Moscow's stray dogs have figured out how to use the city's complicated subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops. The human commuters around them are so accustomed to it that they rarely seem to notice. As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia's capital city. They can be found everywhere, from markets to construction sites to underground passageways, scrounging for food and trying to survive. Using the subway is just one of many strategies that they use to survive. Living in the streets in tough and these dogs know this better than some humans. What is most impressive about their dogs is their ability to deal with the Metro's loud noises and packed crowds, distractions that domesticated dogs often cannot handle.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, March 15, 2018 3:28 PM
This article goes to show just how smart and resourceful dogs are. These stray dogs in Moscow have learned how to navigate a complicated subway system among other things that are extremely impressive for these dogs. This goes to show that dogs are much smarter than humans believe. 
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Adaptive Roots in the Concrete Jungle

Adaptive Roots in the Concrete Jungle | Geography Education |

"In this fantastic sighting by photographer Horst Kiechle, we see the roots of a tree in Bangkok, Thailand (Lat Yao, Chatuchak to be exact) growing into the grooves and cracks of an interlocking sidewalk. Even the colour of the roots gradually fade into the pavement."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This startling image is a powerful testament to the adaptive nature of many species to the urban environment.  Some species will adapt in beautiful ways such as this tree, while other will adapt in ways that go against our plan for that urban space (think rats, pigeons and cockroaches).  We adapt to our environment and the environment adapts to us as well; but that relationship is not always peaceful and symbiotic.  We can also destroy ecosystems that are fragile and not as resilient to change as this tree is.  See this same tree's root network one year later


Tags: urban ecology, environment adapt, sustainability, biogeography.

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Special Series: 7 Billion

Special Series: 7 Billion | Geography Education |
There will soon be 7 billion people on the planet. Find out why you shouldn’t panic—at least, not yet.

This whole year, National Geographic has been producing materials on the impacts of a growing global population (including this popular and powerful video).  Now that the year has (almost) concluded, all of these resources are archived in here. These resources are designed to answers some of our Earth's most critical questions:  Are there too many people on the planet?  What influences women to have fewer children?  How will we cope with our changing climate?  Are we in 'the Age of Man?'  Can we feed the 7 billion of us? Are cities the cure for our growing pains?  What happens when our oceans become acidic?  Is there enough for everyone?

Tags: population, National Geographic, sustainability, density.

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