“[A new paper], published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, calculates that rivers contribute between 410,000 and 4 million tonnes a year to oceanic plastic debris, with 88 to 95% [of that total] coming from only 10. Those rivers are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai He, Pearl, Amur and Mekong in east Asia, the Indus and Ganges Delta in south Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa.”
Of river-based plastic pollution, these 10 rivers are responsible for 88%-95% of all the plastic gyrating in the world’s oceans. Improvement in these key places could make a world of difference in improving marine ecosystems (NOTE: the map came from this alternative article on the same subject).
Admittedly, this is not a neutral perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth sharing if you properly contextualize the statements. UN Watch is “a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.” UN Watch works to oppose what they see as chronic anti-Israeli bias in the UN.
“Because Israel refused to recognize the U.N. plan for an internationalized Jerusalem and because of its annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, no country in the world has offered legal and diplomatic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most states, however, have unofficially acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty and actual possession, without recognition of lawful title.”
That is, until now. The United States is planning to move it’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move that will have far more reaching implications than the relocation of just about any other embassy on Earth could have, given the geopolitical significance of Jerusalem to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader international ties. Below are some resources to contextualize this shift:
- NY Times on the history of Jerusalem as a capital.
- Washington Post on the policy implications.
- Conversation with Israelis and Palestinians on their thoughts.
- The Guardian’s perspective on international relations.
- Political geographer Chad Emmett’s thoughts.
Questions to Ponder: How does this change the status quo at the local, national and international scales? What might be some of the consequences of this move? What would you recommend and why?
Can geography save your life in case of, say, a zombie apocalypse? Understanding the push and pull factors that create geographic movement — or how people, resources, and even ideas travel — might help you determine the location that’s best for survival. David Hunter playfully analyzes the geography skills that you’d need to escape the zombies.
This tongue -in-cheek TED-ED lesson shows how the concepts of movement are spatial, and of course, critical in an zombie apocalypse. Good vocabulary (push factors, pull factors, migration, infrastructure, etc.) is used in this clip.
The unofficial greeting in the bilingual Canadian city of Montreal has long been a friendly ‘Bonjour, Hi!’ But that standard is no more since a motion mandating store clerks to greet customers only in French was passed in Quebec’s provincial legislature. The move reaffirms French as the primary language in the province, where use of English can be controversial. The motion – which is not a law – was passed unanimously, but the province’s premier called the debate ‘ridiculous’. Introduced by the fiercely Francophile Parti Quebecois, the motion ‘invites all businesses and workers who enter into contact with local and international clients to welcome them warmly with the word bonjour‘.”
This is a great example of how culture isn’t just passively received, but it’s actively constructed. The call to defend cultural traits of a region to maintain it’s local distinctiveness is oftentimes why a region has a strong sense of place.
“Gibraltar Bay, located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, is the central feature of this astronaut photograph. The famous Rock of Gibraltar that forms the northeastern border of the bay is formed of Jurassic-era seafloor sediments that solidified into limestone, a rock formed mostly of the mineral calcite, which is found in the shells of sea creatures. The limestone was subsequently lifted above the ocean surface when the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided.”
Gibraltar is an exclave of the UK on a peninsula connected to the Spanish mainland that controls access to the Mediterranean Sea; there is naturally going to be friction over this unusual political configuration. “La Linea” marked on the image is the international border
Questions to Ponder: Why are both Spain and the UK invested in this piece of territory? What challenges are there for a small exclave when neighbors aren’t friendly? How does Spanish and British supranational connections impact this issue?
“Though unrecognized by the international community, the country benefits from a strong social contract between government and citizens.”
Drop a pin on a map of eastern Africa and chances are it will not land on a healthy democracy. Somalia and South Sudan are failed states. Sudan is a dictatorship, as are the police states of Eritrea, Rwanda and Ethiopia. In this context tiny Somaliland stands out. Somaliland was a British protectorate, before it merged with Italian Somalia in 1960 to form a unified Somalia. It broke away in 1991, and now has a strong sense of national identity. It was one of the few entities carved up by European colonists that actually made some sense. Somaliland is more socially homogeneous than Somalia or indeed most other African states (and greater homogeneity tends to mean higher levels of trust between citizens). For fear of encouraging other separatist movements in the region, the international community, following the African Union, has never obliged [to recognize Somaliland]. Nation-building on a shoestring helped keep Somaliland’s politicians relatively accountable, and helped to keep the delicate balance between clans.
“Cartographers at National Geographic discuss how they select an appropriate map projection for the September 2012 magazine map supplement. –World maps usually center on the land, with the Pacific Ocean divided as bookends. To show each ocean as a whole with the least distortion for our ‘Beneath the Oceans’ supplement map, we used a map projection called an interrupted Mollweide centered on the Pacific.”
There is no one perfect map projection that fits all circumstances and situations. Think of a situation in which this map projection would be an ideal way to represent the Earth and in another situation that same projection would give you an incredibly limited perspective. This video provides good insight into how to choose a map projection for a cartographic project. Here is National Geographic’s lesson using this video.