Search

GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

Tag

Europe

The geographic roots of Europe’s energy crisis

German nuclear power plant running again

Energy prices have risen across Europe in the last year, and as winter approaches many fear that an energy crisis might be on the horizon.  This brings up many questions, with the first and most obvious one being, why did energy prices rise?  Complex global markets are, well, complex, but large geopolitical events are often the stage for trade disruptions that can lead to shortages.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine in April 2022 was a major move, one that many European countries were quick to condemn.  Russia is an energy exporter with large oil, coal and natural gas reserves.  Russia supplied 40% of the EU’s natural gas before the war, but only 9% now after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline ceased being utilized.  Nord Stream 1, which pipes gas through the Baltic to Germany, has a very limited flow currently (officially, this is annual maintenance, but skeptics note that the flow is lower than regular maintenance and suspect Russia is putting the squeeze on the EU). This summer’s heat wave wouldn’t have been as big and issue if energy were abundant and relatively cheap in Europe.

Europe has stumbled into an energy crisis because of these geopolitical maneuverings. Natural gas is a primary energy source, but one that is especially used for heating and therefore, more critical in the wintertime.  The United States and European countries sought to impose strong economic sanctions against Russia, hoping to cut into Putin’s revenue stream and stop the war; or at least not feel as though they were funding the war.  This overvalued the power of an embargo of an and underappreciated the reliance of the European economy and standard of living on access to affordable energy. 

A quick animated explanation of the current energy catastrophe in Europe

Natural gas prices in Europe were at times in the summer, 7 to 8 times more expensive than gas in the United States. Many private individuals, small businesses, and any business with a thin profit margin, felt the squeeze of energy bills. Russia isn’t backing down from any economic sanction, saying that other regions besides Europe will gladly buy Russian gas. China has kept Russian production from grinding to a halt, effectively breaking the westward embargo, by sending it East.  Consequently, Europe is facing the negative consequences of the economic sanctions more so than the Russian energy sector. 

Europe has diversified natural gas and other energy sources, and launching a package of emergency proposals to get through the winter. Some analysts are optimist that Europe has solved the energy crisis before winter, by building more storage, increasing domestic production, and diversifying their supply. .  Countries like Germany have been reluctant to use their nuclear power and were caught flat-footed.    Coal, nuclear energy, and other energy sources that were dismissed for carbon emission concerns or environmental concerns are being reevaluated as the need is high in an energy-hungry market.  The prices will continue to fluctuate but this is an issue worth keeping an eye on in the next few months.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline is currently functioning far below capacity

TAGS: Europe, energy, geopolitics.

Italy’s practically perfect food

"Pound for pound, Parmigiano-Reggiano can compete with almost any food for calcium, amino acids, protein and vitamin A – and is prescribed by doctors to cure ailments."

Source: www.bbc.com

While this article focuses often on the nutritional aspects of Parmigiano-Reggiano, I want people to notice the understated importance of place and the cultural ethos surrounding the production of this product. True, it is an economic industry for the region, but it is also a defining cultural characteristic of the place and a way of life. The place makes the product and the product makes the place. 

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, place, Italy, Europe, food, food production, agriculture.

Scoop.it Tags: culture, place, ItalyEurope, regions, foodfood production, agriculture.

Kosovo-Serbia land swap could end conflict – or restart war

“A land swap proposal between Kosovo and Serbia could end the last ethnic conflict of the Yugoslav Wars, or it could reignite it. The proposal involves swapping Serbian-majority district of Mitrovica in north Kosovo, and the Albanian-majority Presevo Valley, in southwest Serbia. The deal excludes 6 Serbian-majority municipalities within Kosovo.”

Source: bigthink.com

Land swaps are about fixing problematic borders–and we know that the world is full of problematic, contentious, and disputed borders.  Yet land swap are incredibly rare because it upends the status quo.  A few years back Belgium and Netherlands swapped some land, but more often then not, calls to simply give land to another country just because the land appears to be controlled by the ‘wrong’ country usually go unanswered.  This proposed swap is especially intriguing because (to an objective outside observer) it could benefit both countries and lead to a mutual recognition of their shared border.  This BBC podcast explores local impacts and opinions about borders, ethnic identity, and place.  

GeoEd Tags: borders, political, territoriality, unit 4 political, Serbia, Kosovo, Europe.

Scoop.it Tags: borders, political, territoriality, unit 4 political, Serbia, Kosovo, Europe.

Italy’s Geographic Challenge

“Stratfor explains that Italy’s main geographic challenge is to preserve its unity despite strong regional identities.”  For more of these videos, visit http://arcg.is/1IeK3dT

Source: www.youtube.com

Italy’s a country that we may think of as monolithic, but (like so many other countries) it has some deep and persistent regional distinctions.  These videos are older, but the the divisions discussed are still pertinent.  Stratfor also added a video of Italy in their “Geographic Challenge” series.  I’ve updated my map which spatially indexes 70+ of their videos that are especially relevant to geography teachers to include this one.  These videos are great starting points for students that are researching a particular country.

 

Tagsvideogeography education, ItalyEurope, regions.

The World’s Most Economically Powerful Cities

“The newest ranking of the world’s most economically powerful cities put together by Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) research team finds New York to be the clear winner [over London]. Our Global City Economic Power Index  is based on five core metrics: Overall Economic Clout, Financial Power, Global Competitiveness,

Equity and Quality of Life.” 

Source: www.citylab.com

100 years ago, the biggest trends in urbanization showed that the biggest cities in the world were also the most economically powerful cities in the world in core areas.  In the last 50 years, the most obvious change has been the remarkable growth in of the world’s largest cities in the developing world.   

Questions to Ponder: Why has there been such spectacular growth of megacities, especially in the developing world?  How is this map ranking global cities different from a list of the world’s largest cities?  What regional patterns do exist in the 25 most economically powerful cities in the world?  What are the implications of these patterns?    

 

Tags: urban, megacities, regions.

Italy’s regional divisions

“150 years after its unification, Italy remains riven by regional differences.” For more of these videos, visit http://arcg.is/1IeK3dT

Source: www.youtube.com

Italy’s a country that we may think of as monolithic, but (like so many other countries) it has some deep and persistent regional distinctions.  These videos are older, but the the divisions discussed are still pertinent.  Stratfor also added a video of Italy in their “Geographic Challenge” series.  I’ve updated my map which spatially indexes 70+ of their videos that are especially relevant to geography teachers to include this one.  These videos are great starting points for students that are researching a particular country.

 

Tagsvideogeography education, ItalyEurope, regions.

Gibraltar Bay

“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.”

Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

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?

 

Tags: borders, political, Spain, Europe.

Catalan independence crisis escalates

“The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament has approved direct rule over the region. Catalan MPs backed the motion 70-10 in a ballot boycotted by the opposition. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had told senators direct rule was needed to return ‘law, democracy and stability’ to Catalonia. The crisis began when Catalans backed independence in a disputed vote earlier this month. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence. But Spain’s Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal.”

Source: www.bbc.com

Stay tuned, sometimes the status quo changes in unexpected bursts. 

Tags: Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomyEurope.

Catalonia

Spain crisis: ‘stop this radicalism and disobedience,’ PM tells Catalan leaders

“Spain’s prime minister has called on Catalan separatist leaders to end their ‘escalation’ as several thousand people took to the streets of Barcelona to protest at Madrid’s attempts to stop a banned referendum on independence. ‘Stop this escalation of radicalism and disobedience once and for all.’ Catalonia’s president earlier accused the Spanish government of suspending the region’s autonomy after police intensified efforts to stop a vote on independence that has sparked one of the worst political crises since Spain’s return to democracy four decades ago. Spanish Guardia Civil officers raided a dozen Catalan regional government offices and arrested 14 senior officials on Wednesday as part of an operation to stop the referendum from taking place on 1 October.”

Source: www.theguardian.com

If you are looking for an example of devolution today, this is it.  This situation has escalated as Spain and Catalonia’s governments cannot work together.  The referendum was (according to the Spanish government) outlawed but keep an eye on Catalonia over the next few weeks.

Tags: Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomyEurope.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑