Search

GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

Tag

op-ed

How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism

Calling out human rights violations shouldn’t stray into bias against Jews.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

This is a very partisan article, but some of the ideas brought up in it are worth discussion in non-partisan settings as well.  The author takes a very liberal perspective critiquing Israeli policies, while loving Judaism, Jewish history, and the right of the Israeli state to exist.  Blanket "good guys" and "bad guys" narratives are always sloppy, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it may be even more pernicious.  

 

Tagsop-ed, Israel Judaism conflict, political, Middle East.

Advertisements

The Population Bomb Has Been Defused

Some of the most spectacularly wrong predictions in history have been made by those who claim that overpopulation is going to swamp the planet. Thomas Malthus, a British economist writing in the late 1700s, is the most famous of these. Extrapolating past trends into the future, he predicted that population growth would inevitably swamp available food resources, leading to mass starvation. That didn’t happen — we continued to develop new technologies that let us stay ahead of the reaper.

 

In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb,” warning that unchecked population growth would lead to mass starvation in the 1970s. He was just as wrong as Malthus. Global population did surge, but food production managed to keep up.

 

So far, the prophets of overpopulation have been defeated by technology. But human ingenuity alone can never deliver a final victory in the battle to feed the world — eventually, population growth will overwhelm the Earth’s ability to provide calories. That’s why in order to put Malthus and Ehrlich finally to rest, a second component is needed — lower fertility rates. To save both the environment and themselves, humans must have fewer kids.

 

Fortunately, this is happening. During the lifetimes of Malthus and Ehrlich, humans still tended to have large families, with each woman bearing an average of five children over her lifetime. But shortly after Ehrlich’s book, that began to change.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

Mathusian ideas are incredibly controversial; there are articles that will proclaim that he was right and others that will point to how he got it all wrong.   The critics of Malthus see that Earth and humanity will survive as fertility rates fall almost everywhere but the Neo-Malthusians see that while fertility rates are dropping, the total population of the world continues to climb.  This article has many great fertility rate charts.  

 

Questions to Ponder: What did Malthus get right?  What did he get wrong? 

 

Tags: Malthus, op-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

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

America’s Empty-Church Problem

The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse.

 

In his book Twilight of the Elites, the MSNBC host Chris Hayes divides American politics between “institutionalists,” who believe in preserving and adapting the political and economic system, and “insurrectionists,” who believe it’s rotten to the core. The 2016 election represents an extraordinary shift in power from the former to the latter. The loss of manufacturing jobs has made Americans more insurrectionist. So have the Iraq War, the financial crisis, and a black president’s inability to stop the police from killing unarmed African Americans. And so has disengagement from organized religion.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

Forgive the inflammatory title and the partisan source of this article if those are things that would worry you.  This discussion of how secularization is (and is not) changing the nature of American politics gives people much to consider–no matter where you fit on any political or religious spectrum. 

 

Tagsop-ed, religion, culture, political, USA.

Why Malthus Is Still Wrong

Why Malthus makes for bad science policy

Source: www.scientificamerican.com

The ideas of Thomas Malthus have always loomed large; the scope includes some of the biggest issues facing humanity’s continued existence on this planet.  His controversial ideas have been debated and inspired some policies that were especially damaging.  This anti-Malthusian op-ed was written by the Publisher of Skeptic Magazine; I typically pair this with the neo-Malthusian op-ed written by the  President of the Canada’s Population institute.  Comparing and contrasting the merits of these articles provides a way to get student to assess the strengths of an argument and to identify the bias/perspective of the author.  

 

Questions to Ponder: What did Malthus get right?  What did he get wrong? 

 

Tagsop-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

Conventional wisdom in the West blames the Ukraine crisis on Russian aggression. But this account is wrong: Washington and its European allies actually share most of the responsibility, having spent decades pushing east into Russia’s natural sphere of interest.

Source: www.foreignaffairs.com

Ukraine is culturally, economically, and geographically connected with Russia. It is a territory that Russia cannot afford to lose as a part of their sphere of influence.  John Mearsheimer, in his article Why Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault, gives a detailed account of NATO expansion and how it effected the Russian demand for hegemony in East Europe. Ultimately it is his conclusion that it was this expansion that provoked the Russians, and the current crisis is on the hands of the West. The will of a majority of Ukrainians is be begin economically aligning more with EU/NATO countries.  Ukraine decided against Russia, and Russia responded with force.   Here is an article where scholars weigh in and mostly disagree with the author’s provocative assessment

 

Tags: op-ed, Ukrainesupranationalism, Russia, geopoliticspolitical.

 

London Should Secede From the United Kingdom

Beyond the stunning act that has become Britain’s vote to leave the European Union lies a deeper message: Democracy is not destiny, but devolution. Ceaseless entropy — the second law of thermodynamics — applies to politics as well. The more countries democratize, the more local populations seek greater self-rule.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

In his book Connectography by Parag Khanna, he argues that connectivity and networks are more important today.  Using those ideas, Khanna discusses London’s options after the recent Brexit vote in this op-ed.      

Why Ukraine needs Russia more than ever

As the country risks becoming a failed state, Kiev must recognise that economic survival depends on Moscow not the west

Source: www.theguardian.com

This is a politically inflammatory title for an op-ed article, given the recent Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.  Regions and economic regional linkages form and continually reform.  Our most likely business partners aren’t necessarily our best friends.      

 

Tags: op-ed, economic, regions, UkraineRussia.  

How Islam Created Europe

“For centuries in early and middle antiquity, Europe meant the world surrounding the Mediterranean. It included North Africa, but the swift advance of Islam across North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries virtually extinguished Christianity there, thus severing the Mediterranean region into two civilizational halves, with the ‘Middle Sea’ a hard border between them rather than a unifying force. Islam is now helping to undo what it once helped to create. A classical geography is organically reasserting itself, as the forces of terrorism and human migration reunite the Mediterranean Basin, including North Africa and the Levant, with Europe.” 

Source: www.theatlantic.com

The title is a bit overstated (aren’t they all in this click-bait driven media age?), but the article shows nicely how regions are cultural constructs that change over time. 

 

Tags: op-edregions, Europe, historical, Islamreligionhistorical, culture, Christianity.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑