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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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agriculture

Making Ethanol from Sugarcane


This segment highlights how sugarcane is processed into ethanol for fuel and other uses.

Source: www.youtube.com

Sugarcane ethanol has proven to be one of the most environmentally safe alternative fuel sources. In addition to its green energy properties, sugarcane ethanol has fueled the Brazilian economy for over a decade. The Brazilian automotive industry have developed a complex, “Flex Fuel” engine that allows vehicles to run off of both gasoline and ethanol. Also, sugarcane ethanol has been one of their leading exports in the global economy. Due to recently discovered fuel deposits in Brazil and around the globe, there has been a decline in the need for sugarcane ethanol. This has negatively impacted the economy in addition to the Brazilian job market. But thanks to the engineering of cellulosic ethanol, Brazil is striving to become the green energy superpower yet again.

 

Questions to Ponder: Since cellulosic ethanol production is so expensive, do you think that will deter production and customers from purchasing it? Do you think that Brazil will ever become independent of fossil fuels as a result of their successful sugarcane ethanol production?

 

Tagsenergy, resourcespolitical ecologyagriculture, food production, land use, Brazil, South America.

Stop opposing GMOs, Nobel laureates say

It’s the latest sign of a rift between the scientific establishment and anti-GMO activists.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Environmental activists are often frustrated when climate change skeptics do not listen to the scientific consensus that the Earth’s climate has changed because of humanity’s collective actions.  On the flip side, some environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus that GMOs are safe for human consumption.  Both have been highly politicized and tap into larger narratives that confirm particular world views.  Most of the opposition to GMOs is not because of the information that is out there, but the fear of the unknown that GMOs illicit.  

 

Tags: GMOs, technology, agriculture, agribusiness.

       

Pros and Cons of Cotton Production in Uzbekistan

“This case study considers the pros and cons of cotton production in Uzbekistan. Since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, revenues from cotton taxation have contributed substantially to developing the industrial sector, boosting the current account, achieving energy and food-grain self-sufficiency, and buffering domestic shocks in food and energy prices. Nonetheless, some argue that the state procurement system hampers the development of the agricultural sector. Often the payments for cotton hardly cover farmers’ production costs, and the quasi mono-culture of cotton production has adversely affected environmental sustainability.”

Source: cip.cornell.edu

Uzbekistan is a top world producer and exporter of cotton. There are many sectors involved in managing the cotton commodity chain to partake in the production. Not only is it a source of income, but provides labor jobs and food consumption. However, the land where the cotton production takes place is suffering. This land faces many types of land degradation that has an impact on the cotton. In order to secure the land, there are possible solutions and policies to improve the agriculture and the cotton benefits. Once the world’s fourth largest lake, the Aral Sea, is located in Uzbekistan, and has had a major impact on the cotton industry. This production has given Uzbekistan a world-wide reputation in cotton production, but is also known for destroying one of the world’s largest lakes.  Just because it is your greatest economic competitive advantage, doesn’t mean that it is environmentally sustainable.

 

Questions to Ponder: How much does the cotton production contribute to Uzbekistan economically? What are the solutions to address the demising Aral Sea? Who is impacted the most because of the land issues?

 

Tags:  agriculture, labor, Uzbekistan, physical, weather and climateland use, environmentAral Sea.

Where our food came from

“Explore the geographic origins of our food crops – where they were initially domesticated and evolved over time – and discover how important these ‘primary regions of diversity’ are to our current diets and agricultural production areas.”

Source: blog.ciat.cgiar.org

This is an incredibly rich website with great interactive maps, dynamic charts, and text with rich citations.  This is one of those resources that an entire class could use as a starting point to create 30+ distinct project.  This is definitely one of the most important and best resources that I’ve shared recently, one that I’m going to use in my class.  Where did a particular crop originally come from?  Where is it produced today?   How do these historic and current agricultural geographies change local diets and economies around the world?  All these issues can be explored with this interactive that includes, but goes beyond the Columbian Exchange

 

Tags: foodeconomicfood production, agribusiness, agriculture, APHG, unit 5 agriculture, globalizationbiogeography, ecology, diffusion.

China’s hungry cattle feasting on alfalfa grown on Utah farm

China has long depended on the U.S. breadbasket, importing up to $26 billion in U.S. agricultural products yearly. But increasingly, Chinese investors aren’t just buying from farms abroad. They’re buying the farms.

Source: www.mcclatchydc.com

Globalization is often described as a homogenizing force, but is also pairs together odd bed fellows.  A small Utah town near the Colorado border, Jensen is now home to the largest Chinese-owned hay farm in the United States. Utah’s climate is right for growing alfalfa, and China’s growing cattle industry make this a natural global partnership.  Large container ships come to the United States from China, and return fairly empty, making the transportation price relatively affordable.  Locally back in the United States though, water resources are scarce and many see this as a depletion of local water exported to China.  Some states see this as a threat and are considering banning foreign ownership of farmland.  This article shows the merging various geographic themes: the global and local, the industrial and the agricultural, the human and the physical.         

Tags: agriculture, agribusinesstransportation, globalizationwaterChinaindustry, economic, physical, Utah.

Sustaining Seven Billion People

“With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites.”

Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other.  Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population?  Satellite imagery can help answer these questions. 

Tagsremote sensing, geospatial, images, sustainability, agriculture, food production, environment modify, unit 5 agriculture

Does the U.S. need more agricultural diversity?

See on Scoop.itGeography Education

The disaster underscores the need to diversify our crops.

AAG: The drought that has hammered much of the country has clearly illustrated the dangers that come with limited agricultural diversity, writes Macalester College geography professor William G. Moseley in this opinion piece. Federal subsidies have encouraged the growth of corn, but this crop is quite vulnerable to drought, Moseley writes. “A more diverse cropping landscape would mean viable farms, healthier diets and a steadier food system,” he writes.

See on www.nytimes.com

Where is my Milk From?

Via Scoop.itGeography Education

Find out which dairy your milk comes from!

Too often we have heard the answer “from the grocery store!”  With more thought, the farm would be the next answer, but what kind of farm?  Which farm? Where is coming from?  All you need to arm your students to make the commodity chain more personal is the code on the carton and this link, and they are on their way to exploring the geography of industrial agriculture (more likely than not).  This site is designed to help consumer become more aware of the geography of diary production and to get to know where the products that we are putting in are body are coming from.  So, where does your milk come from?

Via www.whereismymilkfrom.com

Guns, Germs and Steel

Via Scoop.itGeography Education

This video (like the book of the same title) explores the course of human history to find the geographic factors that can help to explain the global inequalities between societies. Jared Diamond’s answer lies in the military strength (guns), superior pathogens (germs) and industrial production (steel) that agricultural societies were able to develop as the critical advantages over hunter/gatherer societies. The raw materials at the disposal of the societies inhabiting particular environments partially explain the economic possibilities before them.

Diamond hypothesizes that the orientations of the continents play a critical role in the relative advantages among agricultural societies (East-West orientations allow for greater diffusion of agricultural technologies than North-South orientations since the growing seasons and ecology are more compatible), giving Eurasia an advantage over Africa and the Americas. The Fertile Crescent had native plant and animal species ideal for domestication, which then diffused to Europe. Societies that have more developed animal husbandry develop a resistance to more powerful germs. Consequently, when two societies come in contact those with the best resistance to the worse diseases are more successful. Similarly, industrial production depends on an agricultural surplus since specialization requires that some workers not needing to produce their own food to work on technological innovations. Societies that had agricultural advantages were able to invest in technologies (primarily steel) that would enhance their advantages over other societies, as seen during colonization. Societies that had the best environments had access to large plant eating mammals suitable for domestication and the most productive grains would be poised to produce more dangerous guns, germs and steel—the key resources for economic dominion resulting in global inequalities.

Diamond’s critics argue that the ‘geography hypothesis’ is environmental determinism that does not properly value human choices into the equation. Still, the core of this book is the search for connections between the themes of Geography with a spatial framework and the video is available via Netflix, public libraries and many other outlets.

Via www.pbs.org

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