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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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sustainability

Chile’s Energy Transformation Is Powered by Wind, Sun and Volcanoes

“Once energy dependent, Chile is on track to become a renewables powerhouse with the potential to export electricity. Chile is on track to rely on clean sources for 90 percent of its electricity needs by 2050, up from the current 45 percent.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

The definition of a natural resource changes as the societal and technological context shifts.  Firewood was once the most important energy resource and now there are tree removal companies that haul are paid to haul away what some would consider very valuable goods. The coastal breeze of the Pacific, the harsh sun of the Atacama desert, and the rugged volcanic landscapes of Chile were never an energy resources…until they were made so by technological advancements and shifting economic paradigms.  As this article and embedded video demonstrate, Chile and South America are fully investing in the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to renewable energy resources.

 

TagsChileSouth America, industry, sustainabilityeconomic, energy, resources, unit 6 industry.

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The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India’s Rivers

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.

 

Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.

 

If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.

Source: thediplomat.com

This might be a controversial op-ed because it has a strong perspective on the religious and environmental dimensions of modern Indian politics…that said, I think it is well worth the read.  The Ganges is both a holy river, and a polluted river; that juxtaposition leads to many issues confronting India today. 

 

Tagsculturereligion, India, South Asia, Hinduism, pollution, industry,   environment, sustainability, consumption, fluvial

The 10 Worst River Basins Contributing to Ocean Plastics

“[A new paper], published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, calculates that rivers contribute between 410,000 and 4 million tonnes a year to oceanic plastic debris, with 88 to 95% [of that total] coming from only 10. Those rivers are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai He, Pearl, Amur and Mekong in east Asia, the Indus and Ganges Delta in south Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa.”

Source: cosmosmagazine.com

Of river-based plastic pollution, these 10 rivers are responsible for 88%-95% of all the plastic gyrating in the world’s oceans.  Improvement in these key places could make a world of difference in improving marine ecosystems (NOTE: the map came from this alternative article on the same subject).

 

Tags: pollution, water, environmentsustainability, consumption, fluvial.

A Remote Paradise Island Is Now a Plastic Junkyard

Henderson Island is isolated and uninhabited—but its beaches are still covered in garbage.  

 

Henderson Island (article or podcast) is about the most remote place you can visit without leaving the planet. It sits squarely in the middle of the South Pacific, 3,500 miles from New Zealand in one direction and another 3,500 miles from South America in the other.  Henderson should be pristine. It is uninhabited. Tourists don’t go there. There’s no one around to drop any litter. The whole place was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988. The nearest settlement is 71 miles away, and has just 40 people on it. And yet, seafaring plastic has turned it into yet another of humanity’s scrapheaps.

 

Tags: pollutionOceaniawater, environmentsustainability, consumption.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

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

Making cities sustainable with urban agriculture

To reduce the pressure on the world’s productive land and to help assure long-term food security, writes Herbert Girardet, city people are well advised to revive urban or peri-urban agriculture. While large cities will always have to import some food, local food growing is a key component of sustainable urban living.

Source: www.theecologist.org

Urban agriculture is right at the perfect intersection for human geographers who focus on both urban networks and food systems–clearly this is an important overlap that deserves a more detailed look. 

 

Tags: food, consumption, sustainability, socioeconomic, food desert, food, urban, unit 5 agriculture

Short Film: How Water Gets From The Nile To Thirsty Refugees

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the civil war in South Sudan and resettled in Uganda. This 12-minute documentary shows the daily struggle to get water.

Source: www.npr.org

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? 

 

Tags: Africa, development, Uganda, migrationrefugees, environment, water, sustainability, resources.

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.

The global food waste scandal

Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible — but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.

Source: www.youtube.com

No one should be surprised that more developed societies are more wasteful societies.  It is not just personal wasting of food at the house and restaurants that are the problem.  Perfectly edible food is thrown out due to size (smaller than standards but perfectly normal), cosmetics (Bananas that are shaped ‘funny’) and costumer preference (discarded bread crust).  This is an intriguing perceptive on our consumptive culture, but it also is helpful in framing issues such as sustainability and human and environmental interactions in a technologically advanced societies that are often removed form the land where the food they eat originates. 

 

Tags: food, agriculture, consumption, sustainability, TED, video, unit 5 agriculture.

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