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China is trying to turn itself into a country of 19 super-regions

"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.

The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."

Source: www.economist.com

This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier.  High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands.  While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces. 

Scoop.it Tags: urbanregions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

WordPress TAGS: urban, regions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

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Displacement from Gentrification

Source: www.youtube.com

How does gentrification displace longtime residents?  How does the community change during the gentrification process?  What are the impacts to residents (current and former) of the gentrification process?  This is one young man’s story about gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

 

Tags: neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economic

Chile’s Energy Transformation Is Powered by Wind, Sun and Volcanoes

“Once energy dependent, Chile is on track to become a renewables powerhouse with the potential to export electricity. Chile is on track to rely on clean sources for 90 percent of its electricity needs by 2050, up from the current 45 percent.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

The definition of a natural resource changes as the societal and technological context shifts.  Firewood was once the most important energy resource and now there are tree removal companies that haul are paid to haul away what some would consider very valuable goods. The coastal breeze of the Pacific, the harsh sun of the Atacama desert, and the rugged volcanic landscapes of Chile were never an energy resources…until they were made so by technological advancements and shifting economic paradigms.  As this article and embedded video demonstrate, Chile and South America are fully investing in the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to renewable energy resources.

 

TagsChileSouth America, industry, sustainabilityeconomic, energy, resources, unit 6 industry.

Geo-economics of the Thai Canal

A group of influential Thai officials is promoting the construction of a long-envisioned megaproject, known as the Thai Canal. If built, it would transform the regional maritime dynamics and give Thailand a substantial stake in global trade. Yet, as ambitious as the project it, there are equally credible drawbacks that could reshape the geo-economic fortunes of Southeast Asia.

Source: www.youtube.com

The Straits of Malacca is an incredibly busy waterway.  Around 20% of global trade and 30% of the world’s crude oil travel through this tiny choke point.  At its narrowest, the Straits of Malacca is less than 2 miles wide and as Asian economies grow, alternative shipping lanes are becoming more attractive.  China is looking to bankroll a canal that would bisect the Malay Peninsula and reduce their dependency on the Straits of Malacca.  This is still uncertain, but would represent a major geo-engineering project that

 

Perspectives: What are the positives and negatives of this plan for Thailand?  China?  The United States? 

 

Tags: Thailand, Southeast Asiatransportation, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.

Peru gives landlocked Bolivia a piece of Pacific coast to call its own

“It might be a strip of sand without even a jetty but a small stretch of the Pacific coast now harbors Bolivia’s dream of regaining a coast and becoming a maritime nation. The landlocked Andean country has won access to a desolate patch of Peru’s shoreline, fueling hopes that Bolivia will once again have a sea to call its own. President Evo Morales signed a deal yesterday with his Peruvian counterpart, Alan García, allowing Bolivia to build and operate a small port about 10 miles from Peru’s southern port of Ilo. The accord, sealed with declarations of South American brotherhood, was a diplomatic poke at Chile, the neighbor that seized Bolivia’s coast and a swath of Peruvian territory in the 1879-84 war of the Pacific.”

Source: www.theguardian.com

How important is a coastline to the economic viability of a country in the global market and to for the country’s geopolitical strengthen?  Ask the countries without one. 

 

TagsSouth America, Bolivia, economictransportation, political, coastal, borders.

 

At Seattle Mariners games, grasshoppers are a favorite snack

“Chapulines [grasshoppers] have become a snack favorite among baseball fans in Seattle. Follow their path from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Safeco Field. To many, the insect might be a novelty – a quirky highlight for an Instagram story from a day at the ballpark. To those in Mexico consuming them for centuries, they are a building block of nutrition.”

Source: www.espn.com

Eating insects is incredibly nutritious; raising them is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. And yet, the cultural taboos against entomophagy in the West are barriers to the cultural diffusion of the practice.  At some baseball games and high-end restaurants, grasshoppers are sold as a novelty item.  What I especially enjoy about this ESPN article is that it covers the cultural production of the chapulines in Mexico and follows the story to the consumption of the grasshoppers in the United States.  

 

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, foodMexico, economic, agriculture.

Why does the misperception that slavery only happened in the southern United States exist?

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“Christy Clark-Pujara research focuses on the experiences of black people in British and French North America in the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She examines how the business of slavery—the buying and selling of people, food, and goods—shaped the experience of slavery, the process of emancipation, and the realities of black freedom in Rhode Island from the colonial period through the American Civil War.”

Source: vimeo.com

This is one of the many videos produced by the Choices Program about slavery in the New England (especially Rhode Island).  Featured in the videos is Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, who wrote “Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island.”  There is a reason to what we learn in history, and there are also reasons to the histories that are rarely told.  More than any other of the original thirteen colonies and states along the Eastern Seaboard, Rhode Island plied the triangle trade transporting more slaves to the Americas than all the other states combined.

 

Some Rhode Island slavery facts:

  • In 1776, Rhode Island had the largest proportion of slave population of any of the New England colonies.
  • During the antebellum period Rhode Islanders were the leading producers of “negro cloth,” a coarse wool-cotton material made especially for enslaved blacks in the American South.
  • More than 60 percent of all the slave ships that left North America left from Rhode Island.

 

Tags: raceRhode Island, slavery, labor, economic, historical.

Why Is It So Hard for Clothing Manufacturers to Pay a Living Wage?

“In the garment industry, stories about workers who barely eke out an existence on ‘starvation wages’ are legion: Factory workers in New Delhi often describe living in makeshift hovels ‘barely fit for animals.’ A young woman from Myanmar might wrestle with the decision to feed her children or send them to school. In Bangladesh, sewing-machine operators frequently toil for 100 hours or more a week, only to run out of money before the end of the month. Workers have demanded higher pay in all those countries, of course, sometimes precipitating violence between protesters and police. Companies in general, however, have preferred to sidestep the issue altogether. In fact, no multinational brand or retailer currently claims to pay its garment workers a wage they can subsist on.”

Source: www.racked.com

In some ways this isn’t the right question to be asking.  While clothing brands don’t want the bad PR from low wages, like all businesses, they are incentivized to minimize their inputs and maximize their profits.  If capitalistic logic were completely unrestrained, this situation would never change as long as their are low-skill workers.

 

Questions to Ponder: What institutions have the ability to change this situation and what are effective ways to bring about change?  Where are textile industries located in the international division of labor?  How do sweatshops impact the places where they locate in the international division of labor? 

 

Tagsdevelopment, laborglobalization, economicindustry, poverty

The Democrats’ Gentrification Problem

Allies on Election Day, the two wings of the Democratic Party are growing further estranged in other aspects of their lives.

Source: www.nytimes.com

This is more partisan source/part of the topic than I’d want to share with my human geography classes, but the ideas, patterns, and impacts are all about principles discussed in the AP Human Geography course articulation. 

 

Tags: neighborhoodpolitical, gentrificationurban, place, economic.   

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