Thursday, September 25, 2014

Maps to explain economic geography

 Image above: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries.

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Where am I??

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Global economy through maps

Many consider that the area of economic geography is an oft neglected aspect of geography courses. A concerted effort was made to integrate components of economic geography into the Australian Curriculum: Geography. The following resources mapping economic factors/phenomena across the globe is very useful  for those components of the curriculum. The 38 maps on the global economy showcased in this Spatialworlds posting provide some surprises and  certainly some great fodder for discussion.

* The 38 maps to explain the global economy is a very powerful way to show the economic geography of the globe.

World export map

As the site says: "Commerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions and the social and political circumstances that give rise to them than with a map or two. Some of the maps focus on the big picture while others illustrate finer details. The overall portrait that emerges is of a world that's more closely linked than ever before, but still riven by enormous geography-driven differences."

Unemployment in Europe

* The Anthropocene - a brave new world or the precursor to the end of the Earth as we know it?

Although not specifically on economic geography, the changes brought about during the Anthropocene will have significant impacts on the economic health of the Earth.
The video on the site is a 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of the earths history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on the equivalent scale to major geological processes.
The other videos on climate change, water and urbanisation on the 'Welcome to the Anthropocene' site are certainly worth a look.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The world but not as we know it!

Image above: The Mercator projection (black) overlayed on the Peters projection.

Related links to Spatialworlds
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Where am I??

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Our ever changing world

As I tend to do from time, I go scooping of sites for my geography classes and workshops. As a result I have added to my 'Just real interesting',   'Spatial literacy'   and   'Geographical Thinking' sites three scoops which highlight three aspects of our ever changing world; changing world population, the threat of Ebola and the projections of the globe we choose.
These are just three of 100's of fascinating geographical sites on the curated's related to geography.

* Check out this site on the changing nature of the world population.

What can the median age of a country tell us about its future?
Turns out, quite a bit. Using data from the CIA Factbook, this site has created graphics to show the median age of every country in the world. As the article says:

"There are 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world today — and that means that many countries have populations younger than ever before.
Some believe that this "youth bulge" helps fuel social unrest — particularly when combined with high levels of youth unemployment. Writing for the Guardian last year, John Podesta, director of the progressive Center for American Progress, warned that youth unemployment is a “global time bomb,” as long as today’s millennials remain “hampered by weak economies, discrimination, and inequality of opportunity.”
The world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa. Of the continent’s 200 million young people, about 75 million are unemployed. The world’s youngest country is Niger, with a median age of 15.1, and Uganda comes in at a close second at 15.5.
On the flip side, an aging population presents a different set of problems: Japan and Germany are tied for the world’s oldest countries, with median ages of 46.1. Germany’s declining birth rate might mean that its population will decrease by 19 percent, shrinking to 66 million by 2060. An aging population has a huge economic impact: in Germany, it has meant a labor shortage, leaving jobs unfilled."

The article asks, What will be the long-term impact of the world's shifting demographics?
Have a good look at the maps in this article to support the above geographical analysis.

* Why this Ebola outbreak became the worst we've ever seen

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more people than sum total of all the previous outbreaks since the virus was first identified in 1976. This video explains how it got so bad and threatens to change the human geography of our world forever.

* Mapping projections

A really interesting blog on projections, containing some great visuals to show students that the world can be shown in many ways. Just like statistics, we can manipulate projections of the world to meet any agenda - why is England always in the centre of maps at the global scale and Australia to the East and out of the way? In particular the blog provides the opportunity to revisit that great scene from 'West Wing' when they are briefed on projections.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Geography of Wikipedia


  Image above: Europe at night - the concentration of light as well as information


The spatial examination of Wikipedia

Associate Professor Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford  has used gotagging to reveal that Wikipedia is not quite so equal after all. Wikipedia is often seen as a great equaliser. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people collaborate on a seemingly endless range of topics by writing, editing and discussing articles, and uploading images and video content. 

As Mark Graham says in his excellent paper;

Graham goes on to explain that "despite Wikipedia’s openness, there are fears that the platform is simply reproducing the most established worldviews. Knowledge created in the developed world appears to be growing at the expense of viewpoints coming from developing countries. Indeed, there are indications that global coverage in the encyclopedia is far from “equal”, with some parts of the world heavily represented on the platform, and others largely left out."

He found that Europe and North America account for a staggering 84% of the “geotagged” articles. Almost all of Africa is poorly represented in the encyclopedia, too. In fact, there are more Wikipedia articles written about Antarctica (14,959) than any country in Africa. And while there are just over 94,000 geotagged articles related to Japan, there are only 88,342 on the entire Middle East and North Africa region. 

The follwoing chloropleth maps clearly show the spatial inequity of Wikipedia articles ....and much more.

Total number of geotagged Wikipedia articles across 44 surveyed languages.  
All the maps shown on this posting are from: Graham, M., Hogan, B., Straumann, R. K., and Medhat, A. 2014. Uneven Geographies of User-Generated Information: Patterns of Increasing Informational Poverty. Annals of the Association of American Geographers

  Even though 60% of the world’s population is concentrated in Asia, less than 10% of Wikipedia articles relate to the region. The same is true in reverse for Europe, which is home to around 10% of the world’s population but accounts for nearly 60% of geotagged Wikipedia articles.

Number of regional geotagged articles and population. Graham, M., S. Hale & M. Stephens. 2011. Geographies of the World's Knowledge. Convoco! Edition.
There is also an imbalance in the languages used on Wikipedia.

Dominant language of Wikipedia articles (by country).

In total, there are more than 928,000 geotagged articles written in English, but only 3.23% of them are about Africa and 1.67% are about the Middle East and North Africa.

Number of geotagged articles in the English Wikipedia by country. 
As Graham perceptively says in relation to the importance of Place:

"All this matters because fundamentally different narratives can be, and are, created about places and topics in different languages."

The following maps shows that even in theArabic Wikipedia, there are geographical imbalances. There are a relatively high number of articles about Algeria and Syria, as well as about the US, Italy, Spain, Russia and Greece but substantially fewer about a number of Arabic speaking countries, including Egypt, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.

Total number of geotagged articles in the Arabic Wikipedia by country
By mapping the geography of Wikipedia articles in both global and regional languages, we see that parts of the world, including the Middle East, are massively under-represented – not just in major world languages, but their own. Many people think that Wikipedia is a modern technological opportunity for anyone, anywhere to contribute information about our world to promote global/regional interconnection and global equity. However that doesn’t seem to be happening in practice. Wikipedia might not be reflecting the world through an equity and non-first world ethnocentric lens, but in fact creating new, uneven, geographies of information. This is another great example of how mapping something provides an insight into what actually is happening.

Thanks to Alaric Maude for pointing me towards this fascinating article on the geographies of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Geography is ...?

Image above: A Slideshare for those introductory lessons

Some great resources on geography from teachers for teachers.

A great PowerPoint by Simon Jones to introduce students (and teachers) to geography. Simon is a teacher in the UK and does some great work that is is happy to share with teachers around the world. Here are his follow/contact details:

* Great current resources for the geography classroom from Seth Dixon

Seth Dixon from Geography Education! fame has put together a supplementary resource which links all his 'found' websites to geographical themes and/or places. His new site is designed for geography students and teachers to find interesting, current supplemental materials. To search for place-specific posts, browse the interactive map. To search for thematic posts, see . Also you can search for a keyword by clicking on the filter tab at the top of the page.

* Another resource from Simon Jones, called Geography soup, uses short films from Vimeo.

* An interesting thinking geography resource, this time for teachers planning a geography curriculum.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eclectic bits and pieces

Image above:Timelapse capture from MarcoTomaselli

An eclectic collection of teaching resources for the geography classroom

There must be a few lessons amongst this eclectic collection of geography related resources? They range from social, cultural, spatial, physical, demographic, disaster geography .. plus much more. All worth a look and consideration as resources for the geography classroom. 

* Following the volcanic activity 

* Toilets!

* Astronauts images

* Religions of the world 

* World food issues 

* World population by 2050 

* Interactive world aging map 

* Wide angle view of the fragile Earth 

* If it were my home! 

* Great ICT geography resources

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Learning from the past for the future: Sustainable development

"Sustainability is both a goal and a way of thinking"

 Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull), Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux (1831-1890)

Here are some great quotes on the connection between humans and land from the First Nation people of America. They thought very differently about sustainability, compared to modern western industrial society. They had much wisdom on human-land relations. Indeed, we can learn from the past for the future!

"The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us." Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." 

Ancient  American Indian proverb

"The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo belonged."    Luther Standing Bear Oglala Sioux  1868-1937


"When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don't chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. ... the White people pay no attention. ...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? ... everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."Wintu Woman, 19th Century 

"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."  Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.

~ Ancient Indian Proverb ~

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

~ Cree Prophecy ~

I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man.~ Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe ~

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

    - An Ute Prayer

 Quanah of the Comanche

Considering these quotes and the relationship such indigenous group had/havewith the land it is interesting to look at the efforts being made around the world in the 21st Century to arrest and and even reverse much of the damage done to our environment through uncontrolled economic development over the past 100-200 years. The concept of sustainable development is fundamental to the work of a geographer as we balance the issues of environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability of life on Earth.
The Industrial Revolution and the related technological advances have greatly intensified human impacts on the environment – little regard for their ecological limits in the pursuit of material wealth, consumption and economic development.

We need to pursue sustainable development


At any level of development, human impact on the environment is a function of population size, per capita consumption and the environmental damage caused by the technology used to produce what is consumed.

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) represents one of the greatest challenges facing Australia's governments, industry, business and community in the coming years. While there is no universally accepted definition of ESD, in 1990 the Commonwealth Government suggested the following definition for ESD in Australia: 

'using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased'.

Put more simply, ESD is development which aims to meet the needs of Australians today, while conserving our ecosystems for the benefit of future generations. To do this, we need to develop ways of using those environmental resources which form the basis of our economy in a way which maintains and, where possible, improves their range, variety and quality. At the same time we need to utilise those resources to develop industry and generate employment.

The Guiding Principles of ESD in Australia are:

  • decision making processes should effectively integrate both long and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations
  • where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation
  • the global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered
  • the need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognised
  • the need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognised
  • cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms
  • decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them.

Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

The following list of guiding principles for sustainability comes from the Australian Curriculum: Geography Shape Paper. They are the principles to guide the teaching of sustainable development in the geography curriculum.

* Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL) of Sustainable development

The QBL has become a powerful defining factor of sustainable development in the  21st century. The quadruple bottom line takes into consideration the following factors: 

1. Environmental

2. Social

3. Cultural (including governance)

4. Economic. 

Just like many of the indigenous cultures, Geography sees sustainability broader than the physical environment as an isolated ‘thing’. It is the interdependency of the QBL that we see as the necessary approach to sustainable development. 

Some videos to watch on Sustainable development

"The Spirits Warn You Twice,

The Third Time You Stand Alone"

From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians