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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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environment modify

How to Defeat Drought

Cape Town is running out of water. Israel offers some lessons on how to avoid that fate.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

Most droughts are caused by a combination of human and physical geographic factors. Cape Town is current in the midst of a 3 year long drought that is causing many officials to consider drastic measures such as cutting off all private water taps and rationing out 13 gallons per resident per day.  

 

I would like for us to also consider cases beyond South Africa, and think about the the broader issues of resource management, urbanization, resilience, and changing climatic conditions.  Resources Watch discusses critical water shortages in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain with excellent maps, charts, and graphs. This article from Foreign Policy demonstrates how Israel has worked to maximize their minimal water resources (recycling grey water for agriculture and desalinization). The World Resources Institute discusses 3 things cities can glean from the South African crisis (1. Understand risks, 2. Manage the water budget, and 3. Invest in resilience).  

 

Tags: drought, water, environment, technologyenvironment modify, South AfricaIsrael, Spain, MoroccoIndiaIraq.

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As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

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.

Source: www.nytimes.com

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.

Skokomish River salmon cross the road

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

Source: www.youtube.com

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.

Finding North America’s lost medieval city

Cahokia was North America’s biggest city—then it was completely abandoned. I went there to find out why.

Source: arstechnica.com

The earthen mounds of Cahokia on the flat flood plains must have been the most awe-inspiring demonstration of political power and economic wealth in its day.  Like so many other civilizations before them (and many more in the future?), Cahokia probably declined from too many environmental modifications that led to unforeseen consequences.

 

Tagsurban ecology, indigenousenvironment, environment modify, historical, North America.

Factory farming practices are under scrutiny again in N.C. after disastrous hurricane floods

As fecal waste and bacteria flow from hog lagoons into the water supply, North Carolina is revisiting a contentious battle between the pork industry, health experts and environmentalists.

 

In regions where hog farm density is high, there is an overall poor sanitary quality of surface waters. The presence of mass-scale swine and poultry lots and processing plants in a sandy floodplain – a region once dotted by small tobacco farms – has long posed a difficult dilemma for a state where swine and poultry represent billions of dollars a year for the economy. [Past] hurricane’s environmental impact in North Carolina were so severe in part because of the large number of hog lagoon breaches. Following Hurricane Matthew, the department has counted 10 to 12 lagoons that were inundated, with floodwaters topping the berms and spreading diluted waste.

 

Tags: food, agriculture, agribusiness, unit 5 agriculture, agricultural environment, environment, environment modify, pollution

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Cahokia – why did North America’s largest city vanish?

Long before Columbus reached the Americas, Cahokia was the biggest, most cosmopolitan city north of Mexico. Yet by 1350 it had been deserted by its native inhabitants the Mississippians – and no one is sure why

Source: www.theguardian.com

This article is the eighth in the “Lost Cities” series (Babylon, Troy, Pompeii, Angkor, Fordlandia, etc.).  The earthen mounds of Cahokia on the flat flood plains must have been the most awe-inspiring demonstration of political power and economic wealth in its day.  Like so many other civilizations before them (and many more in the future?), Cahokia probably declined from too many environmental modifications that led to unforeseen consequences.

 

Tagsurban ecology, indigenousenvironment, environment modify, historical, North America.

Live chart: Fish stocks

“The world’s fish are in danger—as is everyone who depends on them.”

Source: www.youtube.com

Every semester I share with my students this New York Times video about the rapid rise in industrial fishing and the production of Talapia.  Even with the rise of aquaculture as a major source of seafood, the world’s oceans are still depleted.  As the world’s population rises, many folk cultures with their roots in small fishing villages have transformed into primarily urban societies, but these urban societies still have a strong cultural preference for seafood and consume at levels that are not sustainable.    

 

Tags: environment modifyfolk culturesconsumption, water, physical.

How Geospatial Analytics Are Changing Habitat Conservation

“The BirdReturns program is an effort to provide ‘pop-up habitats’ for some of the millions of shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers that migrate along the Pacific Flyway, a route that spans from Alaska to South America. Birds flying on this journey seek out the increasingly rare wetlands teeming with tasty insects to fuel their long-distance flights.  Over the last century, California’s Central Valley has lost 95% of the wetlands habitat to development, agriculture, and other land use changes. As a solution, scientists use big data, binoculars, and rice paddies.”

Source: www.youtube.com

This project combines data from satellite imagery to map surface water in California’s Central Valley, and individual bird observations to select locations that can be temporarily converted into wetlands to aid the migratory birds (for more information than the video provides about this project, read this article). 

 

This is a great example of using both ‘big’ geospatial data as represented by the satellite imagery and combining it with field data and actual observations to make the world a better place.  We need more decision makers that can think spatially and use geographic skills.  

 

Tags: physicalCalifornia, water, environmentbiogeography, remote sensing.

Drought Drains Lake Mead to Lowest Level

“The largest reservoir in the U.S. falls to its lowest water level in history, Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom introduced a bill title and issued a press release on July 8 calling for an ‘independent scientific and economic audit of the Bureau of Reclamation’s strategies for Colorado River management.'”

This week’s history-making, bad-news event at Lake Mead has already triggered lots of news stories, but almost all of these stories focus on the water supply for Las Vegas, Phoenix and California. But what about the health of the river itself?

Tags: physicalfluvial, drought, water, environment.

Source: ecowatch.com

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