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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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Water Is Life

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled South Sudan to escape the civil war. When they arrive in Uganda, water is what they need most. Without it, they will die.

Source: www.youtube.com

Next to nothing in this video will make you happy about the way things operate for refugees in Northern Uganda who have fled from South Sudan.  We all know the about the dire conditions that refugees face, but knowing about the specifics, and hearing stories from the refugees about their lives and living conditions is powerful.  A huge influx of refugees can tax local resources, especially water.  Food can be shipped in, but water a much more locally variable resource.   The UN refugee camps recommend at least 15 liters of water per person be made available each day, but often it is more like 4-8 liters in these camps.  Dedicated wells (or boreholes) are more effective, but costly.  Trucking in water from the Nile River is the preferred method to simply keep these drowning people’s heads above water.    

 

Questions to Ponder: Consider how much water you drink, use for cooking, bathing, etc. per day in your household.  How difficult would it be to live on 4 liters of water a day?  What about your lifestyle would be changed? 

 

TagsAfrica, development, Uganda, South Sudan, migrationrefugees, environment, waterenvironment depend, sustainability, resources.

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As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

A costly plan to build floating islands shows how climate change is pushing the search for innovative solutions, but some critics ask who will ultimately benefit.

Source: www.nytimes.com

As coastal communities are considering what the tangible impacts of climate change might be, things that were once considered science fiction could be a part of how people adapt to the modifications we’ve collectively made to our global environment that we depend on to sustain life.  

 

Tags: physicaltechnologysustainability, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastal, environment dependenvironment adapt, environment modify.

Creating RI’s Off-Shore Wind Farm

Today, to the southeast of Block Island, there are five new structures rising from the ocean. These are the towers of the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF), the first offshore wind energy installation in the United States. The turbines will generate 30 megawatts of energy; providing electricity to 17,000 households on Block Island and coastal Rhode Island (McCann, 2016), and replacing the diesel generators that previously powered New Shoreham. The turbines are on schedule to begin turning in November 2016 once commissioning is complete.

Source: uri.maps.arcgis.com

One of the overriding, major take-home points of this ESRI StoryMap, is that a project of this scale, scope, and magnitude requires geographic data across many disciplines (to see the largest off-shore wind farm in the world, click here).

 

Tags: mapping, Rhode IslandESRIStoryMap, GISresources, water, coastalenergy, environment depend.

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.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Map

“Thousands of Native Americans and their allies have gathered on unceded Sioux land delimited by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie to try and stand in the way of the “black snake” that could poison the Standing Rock Reservation’s water supply. Many have noted that the pipeline corridor was repositioned from its original route north of Bismarck after white citizens spoke up against the threat a spill would pose to their drinking water ― a threat duly recognized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Yet the Corps failed its federal mandate for meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Tribe before signing off on a route that moved the pipeline to their doorstep.”

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

Maps can tell truths, and maps can be used to obscure other truths. Creating a map, choosing what data to include (and exclude) is an inherently political act.  Maps have the power to convey geographic perspectives that might otherwise be muted.

 

Tags: industryconflict, economic, energy, resources, environmentindigenous, 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.

Dakota Access Pipeline: What You Need to Know

Conflict between Native American protesters and private security personnel over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline has turned violent. What is the Dakota Access Pipeline?

 

Tags: industryconflict, economic, energy, resources, environmentindigenous, ecology.

Source: blog.education.nationalgeographic.com

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.

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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