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China is trying to turn itself into a country of 19 super-regions

"China’s urbanization is a marvel. The population of its cities has quintupled over the past 40 years, reaching 813m. By 2030 roughly one in five of the world’s city-dwellers will be Chinese. But this mushrooming is not without its flaws. Restraining pell-mell urbanization may sound like a good thing, but it worries the government’s economists, since bigger cities are associated with higher productivity and faster economic growth. Hence a new plan to remake the country’s map.

The idea is to foster the rise of mammoth urban clusters, anchored around giant hubs and containing dozens of smaller, but by no means small, nearby cities. The plan calls for 19 clusters in all, which would account for nine-tenths of economic activity (see map). China would, in effect, condense into a country of super-regions."

Source: www.economist.com

This type of plan would have been politically and economically unthinkable in years past, but the time-space compression (convergence) has made the distances between cities less of a barrier.  High-speed transit in the form of bullet trains link cities to other cities within the cluster more tightly together and the threshold of the functional region expands.  While some of these clusters are more aspirational, the top three (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) are already powerful global forces. 

Scoop.it Tags: urbanregions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

WordPress TAGS: urban, regions, transportation, megacities, economic, planning, China, East Asia.

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Geo-economics of the Thai Canal

A group of influential Thai officials is promoting the construction of a long-envisioned megaproject, known as the Thai Canal. If built, it would transform the regional maritime dynamics and give Thailand a substantial stake in global trade. Yet, as ambitious as the project it, there are equally credible drawbacks that could reshape the geo-economic fortunes of Southeast Asia.

Source: www.youtube.com

The Straits of Malacca is an incredibly busy waterway.  Around 20% of global trade and 30% of the world’s crude oil travel through this tiny choke point.  At its narrowest, the Straits of Malacca is less than 2 miles wide and as Asian economies grow, alternative shipping lanes are becoming more attractive.  China is looking to bankroll a canal that would bisect the Malay Peninsula and reduce their dependency on the Straits of Malacca.  This is still uncertain, but would represent a major geo-engineering project that

 

Perspectives: What are the positives and negatives of this plan for Thailand?  China?  The United States? 

 

Tags: Thailand, Southeast Asiatransportation, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.

Peru gives landlocked Bolivia a piece of Pacific coast to call its own

“It might be a strip of sand without even a jetty but a small stretch of the Pacific coast now harbors Bolivia’s dream of regaining a coast and becoming a maritime nation. The landlocked Andean country has won access to a desolate patch of Peru’s shoreline, fueling hopes that Bolivia will once again have a sea to call its own. President Evo Morales signed a deal yesterday with his Peruvian counterpart, Alan García, allowing Bolivia to build and operate a small port about 10 miles from Peru’s southern port of Ilo. The accord, sealed with declarations of South American brotherhood, was a diplomatic poke at Chile, the neighbor that seized Bolivia’s coast and a swath of Peruvian territory in the 1879-84 war of the Pacific.”

Source: www.theguardian.com

How important is a coastline to the economic viability of a country in the global market and to for the country’s geopolitical strengthen?  Ask the countries without one. 

 

TagsSouth America, Bolivia, economictransportation, political, coastal, borders.

 

Mapping Apps May Make Traffic Worse

Apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps may make traffic conditions worse in some areas, new research suggests.

 

In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. When there are more app-using drivers, congestion builds up at off-ramps, creating more traffic on the freeway. While it’s clear that traffic on local roads gets worse with the use of these apps, Bayen said that nobody has managed to do a multi-scale analysis that can determine if the apps, even if they create local problems, are better or worse for whole traffic basins.

 

Tags: urbantechnology, transportation.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

How a Steel Box Changed the World: A Brief History of Shipping

“As the container shipping industry continues to boom, companies are adopting new technologies to move cargo faster and shifting to crewless ships. But it’s not all been smooth sailing and the future will see fewer players stay above water.”

Source: www.youtube.com

This WSJ video, similar to an animated TED-ED video, explains some of the geographic consequences of economic innovation. Containerization has remade the world we live in, and will continue to see it drive economic restructuring.  

 

Tags: transportationlabor, globalization, diffusion, industry, economic.

Corinth Canal

“This photograph, taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, shows the straight line of the Corinth Canal as it crosses a narrow isthmus between mainland Greece (right) and the Peloponnese Peninsula. The canal cuts through the narrowest part of the isthmus of Corinth. The goal was to save ships from the dangerous 700-kilometer voyage around the ragged coastline of the peninsula.”

Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Questions to Ponder: What does the word Isthmus mean and how does this image help tell that story?  When did people start modifying Earth’s physical systems?  What factors do we need to consider when evaluating the impacts of human modifications to the environment?    

 

Tags: water, coastal, landformsGreece.

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.

When Climate Change Meets Sprawl: Why Houston’s ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Floods Keep Happening

But a local understanding of place is critical and this viral post–Things non-Houstonians Need to Understand–is pretty good.

“Unchecked development remains a priority in the famously un-zoned city, creating short-term economic gains for some, but long term flood risk for everyone.”

Source: projects.propublica.org

Houston’s development boom and reduction of wetlands leave region prone to more severe flooding.  Here is a great map of the change in impervious surfaces in the region from 1940 to 2017–when you combine that with record-breaking rainfall the results are catastrophic.  But a local understanding of place is critical and this viral post–Things non-Houstonians Need to Understand–is pretty good.   

Tagsphysical, fluvialwatercoastal, urban, planningtransportation, architecture.

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