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geopolitics

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.

Trump: Time to recognise Golan Heights as Israeli territory

“Israel has occupied the strategic plateau since capturing it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. There are more than 30 Jewish settlements on the heights, with an estimated 20,000 settlers.

There are some 20,000 Syrians in the area, most of them members of the Druze sect.”

Source: www.bbc.com

I had my class all ready to go, and then this happened. The Golan Heights is a small chunk of land, 3 times larger than Rhode Island, is far more important geopolitically than its size would indicate. This land is Israeli controlled, but internationally still considered a part of Syria, much like Russia controls Crimea, but it is still internationally recognized as a part of Ukraine.   Not surprisingly, Syria has condemned these statements from the President of the United States as have many members of the international community

GeoEd Tags: Syria, Israel, political, MiddleEast, geopolitics.

Scoop.it TagsSyria, Israel, political, Middle East, geopolitics.

China will soon have air power rivaling the West’s – No longer just catch-up

“China’s president, Xi Jinping, wants to be able to challenge America’s military might in the western Pacific. He is making big progress. China’s once bloated armed forces are becoming leaner and a lot more capable. They are also benefiting from a defense budget that is growing at a steady 6-7% a year, in line with GDP. The IISS declares that China has become an innovator in military technology and is not merely ‘catching up’ with the West. For some of the most advanced science, Mr. Xi is tapping the private sector. The Pentagon has to woo skeptical Silicon Valley companies; firms in China do what the government tells them to do. In two years’ time, if not before, America is likely to lose its monopoly of radar-beating stealth combat aircraft with the introduction into service of China’s Chengdu J-20.”

 

Tags: political, military, China, geopolitics, East Asia.

Source: www.economist.com

The Two Koreas

“While the Korean War of the early 1950s never formally ended, its aftermath has created starkly divergent worlds for those living on either side of the north-south divide. What follows is a look at life in the two Koreas; how such a night-and-day difference came to be; and where the crisis could go from here. Both governments claimed to be the legitimate rulers of the peninsula. Tensions between north and south gradually mounted, until finally, in June 1950, hundreds of thousands of North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel. The unsuspecting South Korean defenders were outgunned and outnumbered, and beat a hasty retreat southward.”

Source: storymaps.esri.com

This excellent interactive was created by Esri’s Story Maps team using the Story Map Cascade app–making it an great resources of the geography of the Korean Peninsula as well as a stellar example of how maps, infographics, videos, images and text can be combined using ArcGIS online.

 

Tags: mappingESRIStoryMapinfographic, visualizationNorth KoreaSouth Korea, East Asiaborders, political, geopolitics, historical.

Capital Jerusalem

“Because Israel refused to recognize the U.N. plan for an internationalized Jerusalem and because of its annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, no country in the world has offered legal and diplomatic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most states, however, have unofficially acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty and actual possession, without recognition of lawful title.”

Source: beitemmett.blogspot.com

That is, until now.  The United States is planning to move it’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a move that will have far more reaching implications than the relocation of just about any other embassy on Earth could have, given the geopolitical significance of Jerusalem to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader international ties.  Below are some resources to contextualize this shift: 

 

Questions to Ponder: How does this change the status quo at the local, national and international scales?  What might be some of the consequences of this move?  What would you recommend and why?  

 

Tags: Israel, Palestine, borders, political, Middle East, geopolitics, historical.

Syria’s war: Who is fighting and why [Updated]

“After four-plus years of fighting, Syria’s war has killed at least hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. And, though it started as a civil war, it’s become much more than that. It’s a proxy war that has divided much of the Middle East, and has drawn in both Russia and the United States. To understand how Syria got to this place, it helps to start at the beginning and watch it unfold.”

Source: www.youtube.com

Over a year ago I posted a previous version of this video highlighting the complexities behind the Syrian war.  Much has happened since then and this updated version adds more detail and includes a very helpful timeline to show how more internal and external forces became involved in the fighting.  This is an incredibly complicated geopolitical situation because of all the regional and international players involved.  

 

TagsSyria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics.

The Geography and Area Studies Interface from WWII to the Cold War

“The [importance of this study is that it] examines the dynamic between geography and area studies through their distinct understandings of space. As I argue, the dominance of the regional concept in geography, which took the multiple ways of bounding space as its central problematic, was reduced in area studies rendering of global space. This study assesses the transformation of geography during the two decades before and after the Second World War. This era was one of contrasts. On the one hand, geography was central to the war effort and in the creation of post-war programs, most notably area studies. On the other, this era also marked the relative marginalization of geography as a discipline in higher education.”

 

Tagseducation, geography, geography education, geopolitics, historical.

Source: americangeo.org

Why are the Baltic states so rattled?

This week, soldiers from Germany and Belgium are settling into a new posting in Lithuania as part of the latest NATO troop deployment. Will their hosts—and the region—feel more secure as a result of their presence?

Source: www.youtube.com

This video from the Economist shows how shifting political situations in one country can create some powerful ripples elsewhere.  It also shows how fluid geopolitical alliances can either embolden a waxing power, or create anxiety among states that might be waning in regional influence.  Supranational allegiances can weigh heavily on smaller states. 

 

Tags: Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, supranationalism, political.    

CIA’s Cartography Division Shares Declassified Maps

“As much as James Bond is defined by his outlandish gadgets, one of the most important tools for real-life spies is actually much less flashy: maps. Whether used to gather information or plan an attack, good maps are an integral part of the tradecraft of espionage. Now, to celebrate 75 years of serious cartography, the Central Intelligence Agency has declassified and put decades of once-secret maps online.  These days, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies rely more on digital mapping technologies and satellite images to make its maps, but for decades it relied on geographers and cartographers for planning and executing operations around the world. Because these maps could literally mean the difference between life and death for spies and soldiers alike, making them as accurate as possible was paramount, Greg Miller reports for National Geographic.”

 

Tags: mapping, geopolitics, maphistorical, map archives

Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

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