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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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environment

The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India’s Rivers

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.

 

Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.

 

If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.

Source: thediplomat.com

This might be a controversial op-ed because it has a strong perspective on the religious and environmental dimensions of modern Indian politics…that said, I think it is well worth the read.  The Ganges is both a holy river, and a polluted river; that juxtaposition leads to many issues confronting India today. 

 

Tagsculturereligion, India, South Asia, Hinduism, pollution, industry,   environment, sustainability, consumption, fluvial

Alluvial Fans

“When a mountain stream carries a lot of sediment (clay, silt, sand, gravel, cobbles, and boulders) and leaves the confines of the canyon, the sediment is deposited. Over time, this process creates a fan-shaped deposit. The sediment is deposited not because the gradient of the stream decreased, but because the power of the stream dissipates beyond the canyon mouth as the water is spread thin and infiitrates. Many cities are built on alluvium fans, often leading to hazards from flash floods and mudflows.”

Source: www.instagram.com

In mountainous, interior deserts, the largest settlements are usually not deep in the deserts or on top of the mountains but in that in between space.  Many settlements in Central Asia are built on these alluvial fans

 

Tags: environment, physical, geomorphology, erosiongeology, California, landforms.

The 10 Worst River Basins Contributing to Ocean Plastics

“[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.”

Source: cosmosmagazine.com

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).

 

Tags: pollution, water, environmentsustainability, consumption, fluvial.

“The Last of the Free Seas”

“The Last of the Free Seas is the title of this fantastic map of the Great Lakes made by Boris Artzbasheff.  It was published in Fortune Magazine in July 1940.”

Source: www.reddit.com

The inland waterways were absolutely critical to the demographic and economic development of the eastern part of the United States, especially from 1820-1940.  Before World War II, Great Lakes shipping exceeded the tonnage of U.S. Pacific Coast shipping (see hi-res map here). World War II and the beginning of the Cold War led to a consolidation of naval power for the United States and its allies, greatly expanding Pacific shipping trade and spurring fast-developing economies countries. 

 

Great Lakes shipping dramatically declined, in part because steel production has gone to lower-cost producers that were connected to the U.S. economy through the expanded trade.  Some could see irony since the steel warships created from the Great Lakes manufacturing enabled expanded Pacific and Atlantic trade that led to the decline of Great Lakes manufacturing and regional struggles in the rust belt.  Still, more than 200 million tons of cargo, mostly iron ore, coal, and grain, travel across the Great Lakes annually.

 

This deindustrialization clearly is a huge economic negative but the environmental impacts for lakeside communities has been enormous.  Industrial emissions in the watershed and shipping pollution in the lakes went down as waterfowl populations returned and more waterfront property became swimmable again.  Still this map of the environmental stress on the Great Lakes shows they are far from pristine.    

 

Tagsenvironment, historicalwater, resources, transportation, industry, economicregions, globalization.

 

Mapping Coastal Flood Risk Lags Behind Sea Level Rise

Federal maps help determine who on the coast must buy flood insurance, but many don’t include the latest data. Maryland is now making its own flood maps, so homeowners can see if they’re at risk.

Source: www.npr.org

Geographic themes are overflowing (it was an unintended pun, but I’ll just let that wash over you) in this podcast.  I suggest playing a game early in the year/semester called “find the geography.”  What geographic theme/content areas will your students find in this podcast? 

 

Tagspodcast, mapping, cartography, climate change, environment, watercoastal,  urban, planningurban ecology.

A Remote Paradise Island Is Now a Plastic Junkyard

Henderson Island is isolated and uninhabited—but its beaches are still covered in garbage.  

 

Henderson Island (article or podcast) is about the most remote place you can visit without leaving the planet. It sits squarely in the middle of the South Pacific, 3,500 miles from New Zealand in one direction and another 3,500 miles from South America in the other.  Henderson should be pristine. It is uninhabited. Tourists don’t go there. There’s no one around to drop any litter. The whole place was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988. The nearest settlement is 71 miles away, and has just 40 people on it. And yet, seafaring plastic has turned it into yet another of humanity’s scrapheaps.

 

Tags: pollutionOceaniawater, environmentsustainability, consumption.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

America’s Best Long Trails

Plan your next big hike with this map of America’s most-loved long trails.

Source: www.backpacker.com

My uncle hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail and as a kid the enormity of that feat was both inspirational and mind-boggling.  Recently I watched an incredible documentary about an ultra-marathoner’s quest on Vermont’s Long Trail (Finding Traction: free on Amazon Prime–trailer here).  While I doubt most of us could go the full length of these trails given our jobs, fitness levels, etc., I do think that getting outside to explore some of the physical environments in our local areas this summer sounds like a fantastic idea (high-res map here).  

 

Tags: transportation, landscape, place, sportphysical, environment, mappingmap.

The Fallacy of Endless Economic Growth

What economists around the world get wrong about the future.

 

The idea that economic growth can continue forever on a finite planet is the unifying faith of industrial civilization. That it is nonsensical in the extreme, a deluded fantasy, doesn’t appear to bother us. We hear the holy truth in the decrees of elected officials, in the laments of economists about flagging GDP, in the authoritative pages of opinion, in the whirligig of advertising, at the World Bank and on Wall Street, in the prospectuses of globe-spanning corporations and in the halls of the smallest small-town chambers of commerce. Growth is sacrosanct. Growth will bring jobs and income, which allow us entry into the state of grace known as affluence, which permits us to consume more, providing more jobs for more people producing more goods and services so that the all-mighty economy can continue to grow. “Growth is our idol, our golden calf,” Herman Daly, an economist known for his anti-growth heresies, told me recently.

 

Tagsop-ed, economicindustry, sustainability, development, consumption, climate change, environment, resources.

 

Source: psmag.com

Short Film: How Water Gets From The Nile To Thirsty Refugees

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the civil war in South Sudan and resettled in Uganda. This 12-minute documentary shows the daily struggle to get water.

Source: www.npr.org

Next to nothing in this video will make you happy about the way things operate for refugees in Northern Uganda who have fled from South Sudan.  We all know the about the dire conditions that refugees face, but knowing about the specifics, and hearing stories from the refugees about their lives and living conditions is powerful.  A huge influx of refugees can tax local resources, especially water.  Food can be shipped in, but water a much more locally variable resource.   The UN refugee camps recommend at least 15 liters of water per person be made available each day, but often it is more like 4-8 liters in these camps.  Dedicated wells (or boreholes) are more effective, but costly.  Trucking in water from the Nile River is the preferred method to simply keep these drowning people’s heads above water.    

Questions to Ponder: Consider how much water you drink, use for cooking, bathing, etc. per day in your household.  How difficult would it be to live on 4 liters of water a day?  What about your lifestyle would be changed? 

 

Tags: Africa, development, Uganda, migrationrefugees, environment, water, sustainability, resources.

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