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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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political ecology

OPEC’s Worst Nightmare: Permian Is About to Pump a Lot More

"An infestation of dots, thousands of them, represent oil wells in the Permian basin of West Texas and a slice of New Mexico. In less than a decade, U.S. companies have drilled 114,000. Many of them would turn a profit even with crude prices as low as $30 a barrel. OPEC’s bad dream only deepens next year, when Permian producers expect to iron out distribution snags that will add three pipelines and as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day."

Source: www.bloomberg.com

Overall global commodity prices are impacted by countless local production costs. A large shift in how business is done in one place (in this example, Texas’ Permian Basin) can have reverberating impacts on the local productions of other places that focus on that same global commodity (OPEC).  

GeoEd Tags: energy, resources, economic, political ecology.

Scoop.it Tagsenergy, resources, economic, political ecology.

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Borders and the Arctic Ocean

The ice in the Arctic is disappearing. Melting Arctic ice means new economic opportunities: trade routes in the Arctic ocean, and access to natural resources. Because of this, the Arctic nations are now moving to expand their border claims. Russia has shown that it’s the most ambitious, using a potent combination of soft power and military buildup to advance its agenda. They’ve said the Arctic is rightfully theirs.

Source: www.youtube.com

This video is the second video in “Vox borders” series that is shaping up to be an excellent resources for geography educators.  This focus is on Svalbard and Russia’s designs within the Arctic, but this TestTube episode is a shorter version that emphasizes how receding summer ice is being seen as an economic opportunity for all maritime claims in the Arctic.  Canada, the U.S., Russia, and Denmark (Greenland) all are subtly expanding their maritime claims.

 

Questions to Ponder: How do borders impact the develop/preservation of the Arctic?  How should uninhabited lands and waters be administered politically?

 

 

Senegal’s Great Green Wall combats desertification

“A 7,000 km barrier is being built along the footsteps of the Sahara to stop the desert expanding. The Great Green Wall project started in 2007 in Senegal, along with 10 countries in Africa to combat the effects of climate change. Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Widou, deep in the Sahel.”

Source: www.youtube.com

The Great Green Wall initiative is composed of 11 countries that are cooperating together to combat the physical and human geographic characteristics that make the Sahel one of the more vulnerable ecosystems in the world.  This swath running through Africa is the transition zone where tropical Africa meets the Sahara.  The Sahel is susceptible to drought, overgrazing, land degradation and desertification.  These issues of resource management and land use transcend international borders so this “Green Wall” was created with the intent to protect the environment, landscapes and people of the Sahel from desert encroachment (the shorter, social media friendly version of this video is available here).

 

Tags: Africa, Senegal, development, environment, waterbiogeography, ecology, environment depend, physical, weather and climate, supranationalism, political ecology.

WORKSHEETS: Climate Migrants

“The ESRI storymap on climate refugees does a phenomenal job sampling locations in the world that experience migration effects as a result of climate change. Attached is a guided worksheet that accompanies the ESRI Climate Migrant Storymap.”

Source: www.thehumanimprint.com

This StoryMap shows some key regions where migrants are fleeing some of the negative impacts of climate change and one APHG teacher has created a fabulous worksheet to guide students through this great resource.   

 

TagsAPHG, climate changemigrationrefugees, environment, coastalmappingESRIStoryMap, political ecology.

Climate Migrants

Climate change has already displaced tens of thousands of people. If it continues unabated, it could lead to one of the largest mass human migrations in history.

Source: storymaps.esri.com

This StoryMap shows some key regions where migrants are fleeing some of the negative impacts of climate change, a trend that appears very likely to increase in the future.  It is also an excellent example of the ESRI’s new Cascade template for creating a web app. 

 

Tags: physical, weather and climate, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastalmappingESRIStoryMap, visualization, environment depend, political ecology.

This is where your smartphone battery begins

Workers, including children, labor in harsh and dangerous conditions to meet the world’s soaring demand for cobalt, a mineral essential to powering electric vehicles, laptops, and smartphones, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a land rich with minerals and resources vital for high end consumer goods (laptops, cellphones, electric cars, etc.).  This in-depth investigation from the Washington Post of the cobalt mining districts in the DRC (60% of global cobalt production) is incredible.  It has great videos, maps, and an detailed article that cuts across the geographic themes (exploited local labor, global commodity chains, political governance, polluted water supply, medical geography, etc.).  

 

Just two days ago, the United States pulled the families of all governmental officials out of the DRC amid political turmoil and violence in the streets of Kinshasa, highlighting the fact that the weakness of political institutions in the DRC are a major reason for this situation.  

 

Tags: Congolaborwatermedical, environmentpollution, political, conflict, resourcespolitical ecology, Africa.

Africa’s Charcoal Economy Is Cooking. The Trees Are Paying.

In Madagascar, the booming charcoal business is contributing to deforestation and may exacerbate the effects of global warming.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Deforestation does not happen in a vacuum–it occurs in an economic, political, and historical context.  Rural Africans have less access to high value commodities and converting forests into charcoal is one of the few options (similar to the issue in Haiti).  The short-term economic gain for a few individuals leads to long-term environmental problems such as soil erosion, flooding, and habitat destruction for many species.  

 

Tags: biogeography, environmentecology, poverty, development, economic, labor, Madagascar, erosionAfrica, resourcespolitical ecology.

Surging Seas Interactive Map

Global warming has raised global sea level about 8″ since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges.

Source: sealevel.climatecentral.org

This interactive map from Climate Central dramatically shows what locations are most vulnerable to sea level rise.  You can adjust the map to display anywhere from 1 to 10 feet of sea level rise to compare the impact to coastal communities.  This dynamic map lets to view other layers to contextualize potential sea level rise by toggling on layers that include, population density, ethnicity, income, property and social vulnerability.   

 

Tags: physical, weather and climate, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastalmapping, visualization, environment depend, political ecology.

Making Ethanol from Sugarcane

This segment highlights how sugarcane is processed into ethanol for fuel and other uses.

Source: www.youtube.com

Sugarcane ethanol has proven to be one of the most environmentally safe alternative fuel sources. In addition to its green energy properties, sugarcane ethanol has fueled the Brazilian economy for over a decade. The Brazilian automotive industry have developed a complex, “Flex Fuel” engine that allows vehicles to run off of both gasoline and ethanol. Also, sugarcane ethanol has been one of their leading exports in the global economy. Due to recently discovered fuel deposits in Brazil and around the globe, there has been a decline in the need for sugarcane ethanol. This has negatively impacted the economy in addition to the Brazilian job market. But thanks to the engineering of cellulosic ethanol, Brazil is striving to become the green energy superpower yet again.

 

Questions to Ponder: Since cellulosic ethanol production is so expensive, do you think that will deter production and customers from purchasing it? Do you think that Brazil will ever become independent of fossil fuels as a result of their successful sugarcane ethanol production?

 

Tagsenergy, resourcespolitical ecologyagriculture, food production, land use, Brazil, South America.

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