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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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labor

Robots can pick strawberries. Now what?

“The robots have arrived. And they’ll be picking crops in Florida fields soon. Robots can do things humans can’t. They can pick all through the night. They can measure weight better. They can pack boxes more efficiently. They don’t take sick days, they don’t have visa problems.

Google ‘are robots taking our jobs?’ and you get millions of theories: Robots will take over most jobs within 30 years; yes, but it’s a good thing; yes, but they will create jobs, too; chill out, they won’t take them all. Truckers, surgeons, accountants and journalists have all been theoretically replaced by prognosticators.

But harvesting specialty crops is different: Plants vary in shape and size and determining ripeness is complex — experts have said there are too many variables for robots. Until now.”

Source: www.tampabay.com

Many industries have been, and will continue to be transformed by automation and robotics.  There is a great amount of uncertainty and anxiety in the labor pools as workers see many low skill jobs are being outsourced and other jobs are being automated.  Some economic organizations are preparing resources for workers to strengthen their skills for the era of automation. 

 

Questions to Ponder: How will a machine like this transform the agricultural business? How might it impact migration, food prices, or food waste?

 

Tags: economic, laboragribusiness, industry, food production, agriculture.

Globalization, Trade, and Poverty

What is globalization? Is globalization a good thing or not. Well, I have an answer that may not surprise you: It’s complicated. This week, Jacob and Adriene will argue that globalization is, in aggregate, good. Free trade and globalization tend to provide an overall benefit, and raises average incomes across the globe. The downside is that it isn’t good for every individual in the system. In some countries, manufacturing jobs move to places where labor costs are lower. And some countries that receive the influx of jobs aren’t prepared to deal with it, from a regulatory standpoint.

Source: www.youtube.com

There are many of the 35 videos in the Economics crash course set that touch on geographic issues, but I’d like to highlight episodes 16 and 17 especially.  Many see globalization as the path to economic growth and others see the process of globalization as what has created poverty.  In many ways both have a point as demonstrated in the 16th episode of this crash course.  In a follow-up video, they explain the difference between wealthy inequality and income inequality.  This video also has a nice layman’s explanation of the GINI coefficient and how it measures inequality.   

 

Tagsdevelopment, laborglobalization, economicindustry, poverty, crash course

 

Divided island: How Haiti and the DR became two worlds

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a border, and an island. But the two countries are very different today: the Dominican Republic enjoys higher quality of life for many factors than Haiti. I went to this island and visited both countries, to try and understand when and how their paths diverged.

Source: www.youtube.com

This video is an exciting debut for the new series “Vox borders.”  By just about every development metric available, the Dominican Republic is doing better than Haiti, the only bordering country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the DR.   

 

Questions to Ponder: How does the border impact both countries?  How has sharing one island with different colonial legacies shaped migrational push and pull factors?

 

Tags: Haiti, Dominican Republic, video, poverty, development, economic, labor, migration, political, borders.

Homeland of tea

“China is the world’s biggest tea producer, selling many varieties of tea leaves such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea and yellow tea. Different regions are famous for growing different types of tea. Hangzhou is famous for producing a type of green tea called Longjing or the Dragon Well tea. Tea tastes also vary regionally. Drinkers in Beijing tend to prefer jasmine tea while in Shanghai prefer green tea. Processing raw tea leaves for consumption is a time and labor-intensive activity and still done by hand in many areas in China. The Chinese tea industry employs around 80 million people as farmers, pickers and sales people. Tea pickers tend to be seasonal workers who migrate from all parts of the country during harvest time. In 2016, China produced 2.43 million tons of tea.”

Source: www.bostonglobe.com

Tea, the world’s most popular beverage, doesn’t just magically appear on kitchen tables–it’s production and consumption is shaped by geographic forces, cultural preferences, and regional variations.  These 21 images show the cultural, region, and environmental, economic, and agricultural context of tea.  

 

Tagsimages, foodChina, East Asia, economic, labor, food production, agriculture.

How a Texas grocery chain kept running after Hurricane Harvey

“One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.”

Source: www.linkedin.com

Natural disasters complicate the logistics that make our modern economy run.  We take these flows for granted–until they are disrupted. This article is a excellent view into how to operate when disaster strikes. 

 

Tagseconomicindustry, laborglobalizationplace, transportation.

Amazon Is Building a Colossal Warehouse Where America’s Biggest Mall Once Stood

“The Seattle-based internet book seller Amazon just announced plans to open an enormous fulfillment center in the North Randall, Ohio. This is a big deal for the small community which has suffered greatly since the Randall Park Mall, once the largest in America, shut down due to retail sales moving online. Amazon is actually building its new warehouse on the same land where the mall once stood. The irony of this is lost on no one.”

Source: gizmodo.com

Questions to Ponder: Where is the geography in this new development?  What economic forces are shaping and reshaping places?

 

Tagseconomicindustry, laborglobalizationplace, transportation.

Self-driving technology and highway trucks with no one at the wheel

Technological innovation and automation are transforming entire industries. As self-driving trucks hit the road, what could possibly go wrong?

Source: www.youtube.com

What jobs can be automated?  This is a question I ask all of my students because job disruption is something that every future wage earner should consider as they plan out their careers.  Would you be outsource-able? Could technology render your skill set unnecessary in the future?  What are the impacts of creative destruction on the economic, cultural, and political characteristics of a place?  How would those changes impact regions? 

 

Tagseconomicindustry, laborglobalizationtransportation, unit 6 industry.

‘This is death to the family’: Japan’s fertility crisis is creating economic and social woes never seen before

Shrinking GDP and a falling population are poised to turn Japan into what economists call a “demographic time bomb,” and other countries could be next.

Source: www.businessinsider.com

The article headline is quite click-baity, but there is some real substance to this article.  The graphs are especially useful to teach concepts such as population momentum and the age-dependency ratio. These were the key parts of the article that caught my eye:

  • An aging population will mean higher costs for the government, a shortage of pension and social security-type funds, a shortage of people to care for the very aged, slow economic growth, and a shortage of young workers.
  • Following feminism’s slow build in Japan since the 1970s, today’s workers strive for equality between the sexes, something Japan’s pyramid-style corporate structure just isn’t built for. That’s because institutional knowledge is viewed as a big deal in Japan.
  • The elderly now make up 27% of Japan’s population. In the US, the rate is only 15%. Experts predict the ratio in Japan could rise to 40% by 2050. With that comes rising social-security costs, which the shrinking younger generations are expected to bear.
  • To make up for an aging population and aversion toward immigrant work, Japan’s tech sector has stepped up its efforts in robotics and artificial intelligence.

Tags: culture, genderlabor, populationmigration, JapanEast Asia.

My Family’s Slave

She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

 

The Spanish Crown eventually began phasing out slavery at home and in its colonies, but parts of the Philippines were so far-flung that authorities couldn’t keep a close eye. Traditions persisted under different guises, even after the U.S. took control of the islands in 1898. Today even the poor can have utusans or katulongs (“helpers”) or kasambahays (“domestics”), as long as there are people even poorer. The pool is deep.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

This article created a huge stir from the moment it was published, especially within the U.S. Filipino community.  Slavery is reprehensible, but to most people today, it is incomprehensible to imagine how one human could ever enslave another.  This story of a Filipino family that brought a ‘domestic worker’ with them to the United States is a riveting tale that offers glimpses into the cultural context of modern-day slavery.  The author was born into this family and it’s a painful tale intermingled with agony, love, cruelty, tenderness, guilt, and growth.  This article is a long read, but well worth it.  You can listen to a 55-minute audio version of the article, or also listen to the NPR 5-minute version.    

 

Tags: migrationlaborPhilippines, culture.

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