Sunday, 2 February 2014

Exploring Our Oceans MOOC

Just a quick post - there will be more on the way! Are you a student trying to work out what to study at university? Or someone just looking for something new to learn? Well, if so, then this could be just for you! MOOCs are becoming more and more popular and now the University of Southampton are offering one based in oceanography! From experience, I can tell you that oceanography is an incredible degree and you get to cover some truly interesting things! However, I was myself a little unsure about doing it when coming to university just because I had done so little of it before. This is why I think the MOOCs are a great opportunity to learn something new, and explore a discipline that, as a student you might not of covered much before. Also, let's remember that the oceans cover ~70% of the Earth's surface so they are pretty important!!! 

Anyway, the course starts tomorrow (sorry, really should have posted this much earlier!) but it isn't too late to sign up. 
This is the link for more information:
They are FREE and can be completed online, from the comfort of your own home! So, what is stopping you from signing up! 
This is the link to follow their blog which, even if you aren't doing the course, should prove to be an interesting read anyway!

This is not the only Earth Science related MOOC out there (just google it and you will find loads!) and they are great ways of expanding your knowledge - let me know if you find any good ones! This is the only Oceanography based one I have found and there isn't really anywhere better to do it than with the National Oceanography Centre! 

For those of you signed up, I hope you enjoy it and learn loads! The oceans are a truly fascinating thing yet so much remains unknown! 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Replacing MDGs, what would you pick???

Hello everyone! For those of you who have just started college I hope it is going well; you have picked the best A-level!!! I am at uni now, although my proper lectures have only just started and I am not so great at the whole 'freshers' thing therefore I am really bored - so I thought what better to do than some geographical blogging!

Millenium Development Goals (MDGs if you are feeling lazy) are set to expire in 2015 when they are all meant to be met - something that will never happen globally, unfortunately. For a little recap on MDGs here is a revision post on them Millenium Development Goals. Anyway, this week a UN panel started work on a post-2015 development vision with the aim of essentially developing a new set of MDGs. You might remember that during this years Rio Earth Summit there was talk about replacing MDGs with SDGs (sustainability development goals) that would ensure sustainability was at the heart of all future development; offering one alternative to what should happen next....

Now the MDGs are important and over the past 12 years have played a crucial role in shaping government policy and the global distribution of aid, whilst outlining for developing countries some of the key areas for improvement that will allow the process of social and economic advancements that lead to improvements in peoples quality of life and general wellbeing (don't think I could ever forget that definition even if I tried to!!!) to occur. Basically, the world seems to need some form of MDGs to exist to help guide development, but in what format is the big question!?!

So is it just a case of MDGs vs SDGs? Well, I don't really think its that simple (unfortunately nothing in Geography ever is!). There are obvious issues with the MDGs, such as the unintended consequences like proper educational quality as countries push to get more kids into schools without improving and expanding the schools first, but I don't necessarily think that means we need to scrap them all together. However, on the other hand, with anthropogenic forcing of climate change largely driven by development/industralisation which at present occurs unsustainably due to its rapid effects (compared to more sustainable means such as eco-tourism). Therefore, having sustainability at the heart of any development goal is crucial if we are to lessen the impacts that development has on the environment.

Also, many topics were missed out of the original 8 targets, such as global climate change, economic inequality and human rights. Such topics are increasing significant in todays world, with many arguing that they simply cannot be left out of any future set of development goals. Can we stick to only 8 goals then? Now, I don't know what you think but I have spent sometime thinking about what 8 goals I would pick and its really hard!!! I believe that the 8 existing goals are stilll crucial steps in development, yet there are others that I fee needed to be added. So I suppose what I am saying is that I am not sure 8 is really enough to encompass every aspect of development. The problem though with having to many more is aid distribution, often guided by MDGs, being spread to thinnly.

The next group of dilema's are as follows; whether to set measurable targets; whether to focus on ends rather than means; and whether the post-2015 goals should be aimed at poor countries or the world as a whole. My opinion - well I reckon that they need to be measurable targets so that we can quantativiely work out how countries are progressing. As for the last one, this is slightly trickier but I also think that they should apply to all countries. Development is a complex process and no one country in the world is developed in every sense; there are always advancements to be made to improve peoples quality of life and general wellbeing, therefore development goals need to extend globally. Also this would then avoid the complications of selected countries based on clssification, something that is always changing and often subjective.

I am going to work on developing my own set of MDGs (although all we have sustainability at the heart!), and try and keep it down to as few as possible. When I have got there, I will post them on here so in the meantime let me know what you think on any of the questions I presented, but most importantly.....

                ............what would your post-2015 development goals be???

Friday, 17 August 2012

Next Chapter For 'What I learnt in Geography this week.....'

Big day for us students yesterday!!! I hope that you all got the results you wanted/needed and are looking forward to opening new chapters of your lives, in which ever direction that maybe! For me, well I am off to university in September and, you guessed it, to do a geography-related degree so that means lots more blogging from me!

I just want to say another huge big thank you to the Geography department for getting me through these two years and for encouraging me to take an earth science-related degree. I took Geography as an A-level as I enjoyed it at GCSE but also as I did well at it at GCSE. It turned out to be by far my favourite A-level and a subject that I have developed a passion and enthusiasm for - one that I realise borders on annoyance now for those who have to put up with it!!! You three taught me so much and I finally got the hang of mentioning people, not focusing on the science, which I know sounds like a really simple thing but I have a tendency to overcomplicate!!! After your hard work getting me to this stage (especially Nikki with regards to mentioning people!) I think I owe it to you to continue in a similar light so despite my chosen degree focusing on the physical side I will try and write about human geography as well (also I have promised a few readers of this blog that I will continue to do so too!). So, any students out there contemplating A-levels, Geography is by far the best and is relevant to so many things. It is definetly not an easy A-level but honestly you won't regret taking it! Also thanks to all the people who have been reading this blog throughout the last year; I hope it proved useful for the students among you and interesting for those just looking for something to read - It has even been nominated for the 2012 Most Fascinating Student Blog! Your support and the knowledge that someone out there is reading this has kept me going.....

Now to my suprise, many of my Geography classmates from college commented yesterday on the lack of posts over the summer since we broke up, saying that everytime you checked you were disappointed that I hadn't written anything. So apologises but I thought we all deserved a break!!! That doesn't mean to say though that I haven't been doing absolutely nothing Geography-related over the last couple of weeks; especially considering how much relevant stuff has been in the news. So I suppose I had better start sharing all I have discovered with you guys; where to start though is the next question......

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! I will be blogging away I am sure whilst at university and for new A-level students, all my A-level notes are on here and will remain so, and I will try and write relevant posts for you aswell! If you ever have a question don't be afraid to ask; I will always try my best to answer them.  I would advise anyone at college to consider blogging and trying to persuade their teachers to get involved as I personally think that the teacher-student blogs and other social media resources accessible to me were invaluable (and the feedback I recieved from many of you said the same!) - Millie sure did a great job with it all!!!

Thanks again and good luck! Stay in touch and stay tuned.....

'Vicki The Geography Student' signing out for the last time as an A-level student!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The End of A-Level Geography : (

Well as the 4B exam was yesterday (I hope it went well for everyone that sat it!), it officially marks the end of A-level Geography for us all. So, congratulations fellow students we have finished and teachers well, congratulations for surviving 2 years with us (especially Millie for putting up with my class as we weren't exactly an easy bunch)!!!

On behalf of all the Geographers at college, I would like to thank Millie, Nikki and Nick for all their help and support over the last two years; you really do make a great department! On a more personal note, I would like to thank all three for putting up with my endless questions and entertaining my enthusiasm which I realise probably became a great annoyance at times. Nikki, thanks for marking endless past paper questions and helping me make sense of human geography a bit more - hopefully I finally got my exam technique right and remembered to mention people - it helped me so much. Thanks Nick for helping me with 4B, an exam that I don't think I will ever understand but hopefully I have done better this time. And lastly Millie, well thanks for everything! You more than anyone has had to deal with my questions and my desire to understand stuff that the syllabus does not allow for. You have taught me so much in two years it is actually quite remarkable, whilst also giving me a passion for Geography which provoked me to totally change my future plans. I really could not thank you enough for all you have done for me, including getting me blogging!

I personally think this blog has been a success as it certainly has helped in a many ways, including improving my writing and my ability to recall facts/statistics; and I hope that other students have found it useful too. I think that what Millie has trialed and achieved with social media's incorporation into education is incredible! For me, I think it makes learning so much more accessible, extending it beyond the classroom and I feel that so many more students could benefit from it if it was to be extended to other subjects across college.  The benefits of what Millie has incorporated into her teaching could form an endless list, in my opinion, but it would be really great though to get some feedback what you think about this blog (and Millie's blog along with all the other social media stuff she has used, if you have used it) regarding if you have found it useful and why, any improvements you could suggest and if you would like to see this in other subjects etc. I know that Millie, myself and college would really appreciate this feedback. So if you have got a minute just leave a comment below, email or FB me - it is always great to know if someone finds this helpful!

Whats next for the blog though I hear you all cry!? Well, there is no way that I can survive the entire summer without doing anything Geography-related so I will probably write the odd post every now and again, so pop back from time to time if you too are missing Geography! Hopefully, if everything goes to plan, I should be off to university later in the year to study (you guessed it!) a Geography-related degree so as long as the university doesn't mind I will blogging about 'What I learnt in Geography this week.....'! Also, as all my a-level notes will remain on here, hopefully they will continue to help all students embarking on a-level Geography (best A-level to take in my opinion by the way!).

So thats it, the end of A-level Geography, it has gone so fast, and seems really wierd to think that I have no studying to do all summer. We have all worked so hard, so time to relax and and enjoy your summer - I bet we are all hoping for some lovely summer anticyclones, right!?!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Issues that the physical geograhy of the Himalayas presents to settlement and economic activity......

I bet many of you are getting fed up of saying "the Himalayas are a fragile environment", considering it the key issue underlining the AIB - more interesting than a bridge right!!! It is important to understand why it is fragile and how this has affected people; here are just a few examples but there are many more, let me know which ones you think are most important.....

- Very seasonal, therefore limits agricultural productivity by dictating vegetation. This has limited export potential in a region low on mineral wealth also, and restricted Nepal to low levels in both the Demographic Transition Model and Rostow Model of Development. Could be said that climate consequently restricts carrying capacity of the Himalayas.
- Not correct climate for early industries, like those that developed in the UK, as too hot and lack of water all year round
- Climate controls tourist season, especially that liked to trekking, making reliance on this industry more economically vulnerable
- Climate change in this fragile environment likely to make it more vulnerable
- Climatically controlled hazards such as flooding from glacial outbursts, with risk of flooding and landslides accentuated by deforestation as it reduces interception store and leaves nothing to bind the soil

- High altitudes and difficulties of the environment means only really trekking tourism is attracted, with lower Himalayas not accessible due to topography
- Altitude closely linked to climate
- Steep gradient makes settlements harder and mobability challenging, hence poor trade links, therefore more local industry and subsistence agriculture is depended upon ( = anti-globalisation!?!)
- Terracing of landscapes has been implemented to make agriculture easier

- Avalanches, especially on roads halt economic activity, severing any trade links due to limited infrastructure
- Mass movement destroys trekking paths, perhaps encouraging tourists to veer of set paths thereby increasing soil erosion in the fragile environment
- Flooding, increased by deforestation
- Such hazards in a LDC wipe out any existing development in the region, whilst making it very unattractive to TNCs and potential appending FDI crucial to initiating cumulative causation

Soils and Ecosystems
- Not a lot of soil! With morraines providing a surface for succession to occur upon but this process is slow
- Gradient is too steep to 'fix' soil, thereby limiting agriculture
- Great leaching of nutrients and erosion/washing away of topsoil
- Great variety of ecosystems, all very climate dependent, not that productive so offer limited benefits for local people

Consequential to the hazards and lack of benefits posed by the fragile environment to people and settlements, rapid urbanisation is occuring, again accentuated by population pressures. However, this is placing enormous pressure on limited resources and infrastructure, thereby hampering development. Practical Action's 'Sustainable Urban Environment' programme aims to help solve this by providing safe drinking water and improving waste management. It is based on building effective partnerships between local governments and NGOs. Education of locals is also key in ensuring sustainability so whilst raw materials required are provided, labour is covered by locals so that they understand how to build and repair the biogas plants and bio-toiliets. This scheme was satarted in 2009, helping 30,000 women and children in 8 settlements around Nepal. Approach taken provides oppurtunities for additional income-generation and socio-economic development to take place, through adoption of a community-managed, de-centralised approach. The use of appropriate technology is sustainable as locals can economically maintain it whilst PracticalAction provide education to do so. Therefore knowledge will be passed to the next generation to sustain the scheme which is helping development start from its grassroots level in small communities and helping solve some of the issues associated with rapid urbanisation that act as barriers to development in Nepal.

I have been asked to write a post regarding interpretation of the photos, so I will try and write that this evening but for now, good luck with the rest of your revision!

Fuelwood - Issues with usage, possiblities to reduce them in Nepal

Fuelwood is used by 80% of the 4.2 million  of the households in Nepal. However there are issues with this, similar to those seen in the Sahel. AT remains one of the best options, on a small scale, for Nepal but HEP, if FDI is provided, could go a long way to accelerating development in the region. Many of you many remembering doing this in the Energy module last year, but just incase, here is a basic overview of fuelwood usage in LDCs.........

In LEDC’s fuelwood is a very important source of energy as it is readily available and can provide energy for both cooking and heating. It is estimated that 40% of the global population rely on fuelwood as a source of energy. Honduras source 65% of their primary energy from fuelwood and in many African countries this percentage is substantially higher (often over 90%). The reason that this is such a popular choice is that it is cheap and relatively sustainable. Also the use of fuelwood as a source of energy does not require communities to be connected to a national grid. This means that for remote communities it is often there best source of energy.

Theoretically, fuelwood is a sustainable source of energy as trees can be replanted to replace those used. This will maintain the amount of trees in a region. Although it will take a while for the trees to fully grow, as long as it they are not used faster than they can be replaced, it is renewable. This means that, if afforestation schemes are implemented, that fuelwood can be a sustainable source of energy.

Fuelwood usage in the Sahel 

Fuelwood is a major source of energy in the Sahel region. However, an already dry region has been made drier by the deforestation that has taken place as the reduction in transpiration has reduced rainfall. The removal of trees has means that there are no longer any roots to bind the soil and, as the soil is exposed, it becomes more vulnerable to soil erosion. The combination of deforestation, over grazing and over cultivation has led to desertification. Deforestation has also allowed for salinisation to occur. As the soil is no longer shaded from the sun, the antecedent moisture is evaporated and, the hot temperatures draw the salts out of the soil. These salts are toxic to most plants and after this has happened it becomes increasingly likely that crops will fail.  In the Sahel they have experienced a lack of rainfall since the 1970’s and famines (the largest one occurring in the 1980’s) because the land is not very productive and, as the population increases, there are more and more people to feed.  
To help to remedy the problems created by deforestation many charities have set up tree planting schemes and have provided ‘magic stones’ which are used to build walls and trap the nutrients so that crops can be grown. Fuelwood is mainly used to generate heat which is then used for cooking. Appropriate technology has been used to make stoves more efficient so that they consume less fuelwood and so reduce communities’ dependency on fuelwood as a source of energy. Another method has been to encourage families to use solar cookers instead as this means that they can cook food without using any energy source apart from the sun.

Fuelwood usage in Nepal

Nepal is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and so experiences high levels of precipitation and snow melt. Deforestation is a big problem in Nepal and only around 29% of the forest cover remains. This is due to the fact the Nepal sources 87% of its domestic energy from fuelwood. The forests of Nepal are home to many animals and 2.9% of them are classed as being endemic, which means that they don’t’ exist in any other country and deforestation has led to the destruction of their habitats. As well as the other obvious environmental impacts, deforestation has had some social impacts as well. For example, the women, who traditionally gather the wood, now have to spend hours at a time looking for wood and cows have to be taken further afield to find grazing land. In turn this has escalated the deforestation problem as grazing animals often eat the tree seedlings before they have a chance to grow and as demand for fuelwood increases, in relation to population growth, the problem is spreading. The impacts of deforestation are not only felt in Nepal though. Deforestation has reduced the interception store and so surface runoff has been increased. This means that the risk of flooding in Bangladesh has been increased. Also, as there are not roots to bind the soil or trees to trap sediment, the risk of landslides has been increased.   
To try and reduce the deforestation problem in Nepal, biogas run cookers are being installed in rural areas. Most people leaving in rural areas own at least one cow and the idea is that  a system is installed that collects the methane produced when livestock manure decomposes and then the gas collected is used to light stoves. This not only reduces dependency on fuelwood as a source of energy but also has health benefits as the smoke produced when either fuelwood or dried dung is burnt causes many respiratory problems. Even the waste left behind can be utilised as it works as a good, natural, fertiliser.  Another project has also been put in place which aims regenerate the forests by promoting the planting of trees that are grown in tree nurseries by local volunteers.

If you look back at some of my AS posts from the Energy module, there wil be some stuff on HEP that you may find helpful if you need to refresh you memory....

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Presenting the data in 4B Nepal AIB

Hello everyone, I have had a request to go over the data representation specific to this AIB and fortunately there is not a lot of data so this post will be relatively short -  I hope the revision is going well!!!

Figure P2 - Climate of Kathmandu
Don't think this is the exact same data as in AIB!
Well there is only really one option for this one..... a climate graph!!! So the bars represent precipitation (in mm) and the line temperature ( in degrees C), therefore there are often 3 axis which all need to be numbers, with months on the x-axis. Not really sure what else to say about the climate graph other than it is good as you can represent both precipitation and temperature on the same graph which in the case of Kathmandu shows clear correlation between the two i.e the warmest month (July) is also the wettest, it is very easy to highlight peaks and easy to plot/read. Interestingly, if you compare this data set with the P3 (the number of tourists) the lowest number of tourist arrivals seems to coincide with the most 'extreme' weather, which could possibly be explained by looking at P4 at due to why people visit Nepal.
Figure P3 - Total tourist arrivals in Nepal, excluding Indians, per month (2007)

For this data set, a line graph is probably most suitable as it suugests conitinuous variation over time, something that is crucial when displaying tourist arrivals per month, but most importantly only continuous variation in one variable. Line graphs are visulally effective and easy to read sa peaks in the data are clearly visual. This therefore is more appropriate than stacked bar charts, which represnt a range if information which is not related, or a bar chart which suggests discontinuous variation. So to plot the line graph months of the year should be placed along the x-axis and number of tourist arrivals each month along the y-axis. On the y-ais I would use a false origin and start the scale at 15,000 and then go up in 5,000. After labelling bith axis, the data points in P3 should be plotted accordingly.

Figure P4 - Tourist arrivals in Nepal, by type (2007)

Now, I think there are two options for this one! First up is a pie chart which can be used to show the share total value of something. They are visually effective but difficult to read and accurately assess the percentages, whilst also not offering raw values - although to compare something precentages are best to use. To construct a pie chart you need to first draw a circle! Then the data needs to be converted into percentages (divide the number by the total and times by 100), then multiply by 3.6 to convert it to degrees. You are meant to start at a vertical position and measure round clockwise from this point, and include a key. Another option is a stacked bar chart which shows a range of information on the same topic which is not necessarily related. This is an easier way to clearly compare date from different locations, and is less time consuming as can either be plotted with percentages or raw values. There is probably not a lot of difference between the two, but which ever one you pick you need to be able to justify why you picked that one. One issue though with the data in P$ is that there is significant overlap between the categories, with the possibility of a tourist being considered in more than one, therreofre it is debatable how reliable/significant trends shown are.
I realise that this sounds really patronising but I think the main lesson I have learnt from the Poole exam is that you have to explain things really well and write as if the examiner doesn't really know an awful lot when it comes to questions like 'how would you represent data in fig....?'. Therefore not only to do you need to know how to plot each one, but also justification for use. The above are the ones that Nick feels are the most likely to come up as are relevant to the data in the AIB, but briefly looking over other methods of representation may be a good idea. The main other skill that Nick has mentioned a lot is commenting on photos, perhaps talking about to what extent they show the Himalayas to be a fragile environment....remembering that labelling pictures is considered a geographical skill! A quick note on this, I would say that the pictures in the AIB and those referred to (probably a very good idea to look at those before Tuesday!!!) are arguably biased as not only were they taken by a tourist so show touristy places, and therefore regions damaged by tourism but they were also taken by a geographer who would no what to look for in regards to environmental fragility and damage. But they do still offer a good insight in Nepal, and considering we couldn't exactly go there on a fieldtrip, it is all we really have to rely on!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful, let me know what you think about this, and if you have any more requests....

Management of tourism in Lakshadweep - lessons to be learnt for Nepal???

Attempts to regulate tourism in Nepal are quite limited (mainly to Sherpas and paying tourists back deposits for returning with rubbish) and subsequently the environment has started to suffer. However there are other regions of the world that have started to successfully manage their tourim.....
Lakshadweep is a tropical island system, with environmental sustainability at the heart of its development. The heritage of ecology and culture is supported by an extremely fragile ecosystem, as with in the Himalayas. However Lakshadweep are committed to the cause of eco-tourism, following a middle path between tourism promotion and environmental conservation. The impacts of tourism on the environment is carefully monitored, ensuring that promotion of tourism is consistent with ecological concerns. It seems that an  effective strategy has been implemented to avoid excess pressure on  the environment, meaning that tourism does not exceed the carrying capacity of the islands.

In order not to adversely affect the physical environment promotion of tourism only occurs in those islands that can sustain it keeping in view the concept of carrying capacity. The facilities are developed in such a way that they do not result in loss of bio-diversity. No development is permitted in geologically unstable zone. Adequate buffer zones exist between development and the cf existing shoreline, including a ban on high buildings whilst all construction materials/methods are compatible with environment and height, shape and location of building merge with the natural vegetation.
All tourism development schemes are first analyzed from environmental impact point of view and only if they meet the norms in this regard implementation is taken up. EIA includes...

1 All proposed construction should have thatched roof or tiled sloping roof.
2 Only bio toilets to be installed as far as possible.
3 Rain water harvesting to be set up to conserve fresh water.
4 Use of Pump Sets should be minimized; the pump set in any case should have a cut off mechanism to ensure that water below the minimum safe level is not drawn.
5 Waste disposal system like incinerators for non-recyclable/non bio degradable waste should be installed and system of returning all non-biodegradable waste must be in position.
6 Minimum cutting of tress/ greenery and maximum plantation of trees, plants, shrubs and creepers.
7 Carrying capacity study of the island before taking up development in any uninhabited island
8 A regular system to educate tourists about environment fragility of eco system

Harsh environments are in some cases often the most fragile and Hawaii due to its tectonic setting can be described as quite a fragile environment. Living with geomorphological hazards is not easily and can be detrimental to the economy, therefore development but Hawaii, as with Iceland, have started to utilise tourism as a way to enable development in harsh environments. By 1966 in Hawaii, the tourism industry had overtaken the export of sugar and pinapples as the main source of income and since then, with the invention of the Boeing 747, this industry has boomed. An estimated 7,000,000 tourists visited Hawaii in 2009, with the average American tourist spending $180 a day and Asian tourists $250 a day. Tourism brings huge benefits to Hawaii such as:

- Provides 35% of the country's total revenue ($9billlion in 2009)
- Generates over 18,000 jobs, mainly in hotels, which represents over half the total employment of the state
- Income from tourism provides money to protect the environment as well as helping to pay for health care, education and social security on Hawaii
Similarities can therefore be drawn with Nepal as the tourism industry accounts for aruond 10% of their GDP, but most importantly provides a direct income for local people in an area where agricultural productivity is limited. However, there are also similarities between the issue associated with tourism's exploitation of the environment......

.....There are some issues with tourism linked to vulcanicity. Honeypot sites have developed around the volcanoes, which are not evenly distributed so overcrowded results, and the appending impacts of soil erosion and various forms of pollution are causing issues for the surrounding environment. Then greater pressure is exerted to increase size of visitor centres which only accentuates detrimental impacts. Management and strict guidelines, such as those imposed in the USA National Parks, can reduce the impacts but, especially in developing countries these are no legally enforced. How many people actually live by the rules, 'leave nothing, take only photographs'? Unfortunately for the delicate ecosystems many of us visit, not enough, so does this mean that it is not possible for true eco-tourism to exist in reality? Perhaps that is a topic for another blog post but whilst tourism can have social and economic benefits for an area, often without carfeul management and inforcement of legislation it can harm to environment and currently this is being seen in Nepal.

So, can Nepal learn any lessons from what has been done in Lakshadweep and Haiti? Well I definently think that carrying out an EIA would be a very good idea! To me I think the main issue at present is the number of tourists, which seems to exceed the carrying capacity of the Himalayas, therefore perhaps raising the cost of visas would reduce the number visiting Nepal each year. The difficultly is that due to lack of resources and minerals, tourism is crucial to this developing country and is likely to continue to be so unless TNCs relocate and provide FDI to kickstart other industry...... what is clear though is that something needs to be done to reduce the detrimental impact of tourism in this fragile environment.

What steps do you think need to be introduced? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

4B Nepal - An Introduction

Well I think it is safe to say that that exam wasn't much fun at all (bit of a disaster in my case to be honest!) but for many of you that will mark the completion of A-level Geography so congratulations!!! However, some, like me, can't get too excited yet as we still have 4B to do. Therefore over the weekend, I am going to try and write some 4B stuff up on here, so stay tuned, remember though that all the skills have already been covered back in January so I am not intending to go over this again, just click on the Geographical Skills tab to go straight there....
What better place to start than with the issue....
People are concerned about damage to the fragile environment and ecosystems because of tourism which has arisen because of the need to develop but might be resolved by appropriate technology and sustainable energy sources.
The AIB/issue present is based in the Himalayas, mainly in Nepal. The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia that stretches from north India, through Pakistan, India, Nepal, Butan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Mount Everest and K2 are located here as well as the Tibetan Plateau to the northwest. They are situated north of the equator and influence monsoon patterns. They are a fragile environment with 15,000 glaciers, even though they are close to the tropics, indicating the influence of altitude on climate. There are 6 parallel climate zones within the Himalayas mountain range which can be identified by their altitude, and therefore the vegetation that grows. However, fragility of the ecosystems increases with altitude.
Summary of 4B Nepal AIB Well that is a brief summary, hopefully I will find the time at the weekend to write up some more details before the exam on Tuesday but let me know if there is anything you would like me to focus on.....

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Hello everyone!!! I suspect the nerves are starting to kick in so good luck to everyone doing the AQA A2 Unit 3 Geography exam! This is a rather late request from quite a few people so I thought I would quickly write it - last minute cramming always helps right.....

MONSOON = a large scale seasonal reversal in wind direction

This wind reversal is experienced in regions across the world but the most significant is the South East Asian Monsoon (this is our example of a climate in a tropical region) and is influenced by three main factors:-
1. Movement of the ITCZ - moves with regards to season as point of maximum insolation changes due to the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth so ITCZ moves north of equator during northern hemisphere summer
2. Differential heating of land and sea which initiates pressure differences - land masses heat and cool quicker and to more extremes in relation to smaller heat changes over nearby seas; these differences are responsible for strength and direction of winds
3. Himalayas, which are high enough ot influence the general atmospheric circulation in the region

Summer: SW Monsoon = June - September
  • ITCZ dragged north
  • Low pressure over India
  • Land warmer than ocean
  • Coriolis deflects northerly winds to the east
  • Heavy rains move north along west and east coast
  • East rains deflected west due to Himalayas
  • Pattern of rainfall in summer monsoon is altered by topography. Western Ghats create rainshadow in central India, whilst Himalayas have same effect for central India
  • Some areas of SE India and Sri Lanka recieve rainfall in winter as winds pass over Bay of Bengal and gain moisture
Winter: NE Monsoon = October - May
  • ITCZ dragged south
  • High pressure over central Asia
  • Land cools rapidly
  • Coriolis deflects southerly winds to the west
  • Dry air dries further as it moves over Tibetan Plateau
  • Air warms as ut descends to the Indian Plains
- Monsoon in both retreat and arrival is stepped so Sri Lanka gets rainfall in early May whereas Pakistan in July. Retreat begins in September but does not reach Southern India until late November

Couple of facts.....
- 40C in May - average temperature is 30-35C year round
- 13000mm rain per year in Cherrapunji (well its spelt something like that!)
- 80% rain falls between June and September

Positives : )
- Very predictable!
- Relief from hot season as monsoon cools areas that reach 45C so cities have powershortages
- Reservoirs topped up
- Crop growth = stable diet is rice and Indian agriculture built around monsoons
- Monsoon clears out dust and pollution and rejunventates vegetation

Negatives : (
- Temperature restricts tourist season
- Droughts and issues with water supplies
- Flooding increases spread of water bourne diseases
- Restricts agricultural productivity
- 500 died in 1994 flash flood in Bangladesh

Monsoons and Global Climate Change
  • Half of global population rely on annual monsoon to bring water for agriculture
  • Variations of timing and intensity will affect billions of people
  • Frequency has increased 10% since 1950s and severe rains have doubled
  • Impacts of heavy rains i.e flash floods/landslides which then impact agriculture
  • Temperature increase of 3C means some areas get more rain, others droughts
  • Increase in malaria and cholera
Well I think that is about it for monsoons, well atleast I hope so as I don't think I really know anymore and the exam is tomorrow afternoon.

Good luck everyone!

P.S after unit 3 is out the way I will try and write some stuff for 4B at the weekend but remember all the skills stuff is already on here from January!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Development and Globalisation Case Study Map

This is by no means a definite or complete list of case studies for the development and globalisation module but is a few facts from some different countries - there is plenty more that I could (and probably should!) add but unfortunately I simply do not have the time! However, hopefully it may still be useful - the countries are in no particular order... Let me know if you have found any other interesting case study facts!

Case studies are by no means my favourite thing to revise, so if anyone has found a more interesting way to do so then let me know, I know I am not the only one who would love to hear it! The timeline of the FB page is really good, especially for the tectonics module I think, so check it out if you are struggling with your case studies!!!


I have had lots and lots of requests for this one!!! I am going to try and explain it as best as possible but just shout if there is something I havent done so well - some of this climate stuff gets quite tricky so if you are struggling it is probably best to go to a workshop or ask on the FB page rather than just rely on what I am about to write, although I am hoping this is will stilll be useful!
Depressions form when two air masses with differing characteristics meet. Above the UK this is usually polar maritime (PM) air and tropical maritime (TM) air, which is seperated by the polar front.
Warmer, lighter TM air rises, because, being warmer it has a lower atmospheric pressure so is less dense. As it is warmer, it also carries more moisture than the cooler polar air mass and, as it rises, it cools and condenses and produces water droplets and consequently clouds. This is the embryonic stage and the depression moves in a north easterly direction, under the influence of the Polar Jet, whilst Coriolis establishes the anti-clockwise circulation that permits more Tm air to protrude into the depression. As the depression matures, warm air rises over colver air to the east so lower pressure is created, with adiabatic cooling of air. This adiabatic cooling forms high altititude clouds, followed by lower cirrostratus, altostratus and nimbostratus from which heavy precipitation for a long period of time occurs. Where Tm air remains in contact with the ground, indicating no forced ascent, skies remian clear and cloudless but the faster moving cold front, where strongest winds are generated, force cumulonimbus clouds that prodcude heavy precipitation. Once all the Tm air has been 'forced' off the gournd and the two fronts have caught-up with each other, occlusion occurs. This is marked by a decrease in cloud cover and wind speeds, after a period of steady light precipitation, and an increase in pressue which signifies the decay of a depression.

This is quite a good animation if you are a more visual learner. I think explaining depressions is easiest with diagrams like we used in class but I am struggling to find good diagrams

Knowing what weather is associated with each point also seems to be important and this is largely due to whether clouds have formed - the animation covers this quite well. When Tm touches the ground you get nice warm(ish!) weather, with clear skies so no rain. In complete contrast at the cold front where winds are strongest you get cumulonimbus clouds forms which bring the heaviest rainfall. During occlusion as high pressure starts to be created and moisture leaves, you get steady light precipiation and winds. The basic idea is that weather changes as a depression travels over an area and matures!
We also have to be able to find the three distinct stages on a synoptic chart - have a go with this one!
The very unscientific way I remember it is that:
                                   Occluded = icicles and suns are fully mixed
                                   Mature = icicles and suns may mix at top but are largely separated
                                   Embryonic = effectively a line of suns and a line of icicles

This is not an easy topic, but hopefully this helps - lets just hope that it does not feature too much in the exam!!!

A few brief TNC case studies....

Hello everyone - I hope the revision is going well; not long left now!!! Now, I realise that everyone, in my class atleast, did a different TNC case study as a research class, on top of the notes we made on Wal-Mart after watching that documentary, but a few people have asked me to write about a couple of notes on some TNCs - as well as Wal-Mart I have chosen Rio Tinto (that is the one my group did) and Unilever as that one is in the booklet.... I hope this is helpful!

--> 400 brands globally, with 35 in the UK
--> Everyday 160 million choose one of their products
--> Founded in 1930
--> Headquarters in both Rotterdam and London
--> Grown mainly by acquiring other companies
--> Has operations on every continent (apart from Anatarctia), with 264 factories and research labs worldwide

+ Committed to source all palm oil from sustainable sources by 2015
+ 50% tea sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms
+ 1.6% carbon dioxide emission reductions between 2007-2008, and a 39% reduction since 1995
+ 63% reduction in water usage during production of products since 1995

- Mecury pollution
- Gas pollution in Brazil
- Testing on animals
- Use of child labour
- Workers in Dalda fired
- Buying palm oil form sources responsible for deforesting Indonesia

Rio Tinto
--> Largest mining TNC - major products are iron ore, aluminium, copper and gold
--> Operates on 6 continents with headquarters in London and Melbourne
--> 77,000 employees worldwide
--> Worth US$147 billion with a net annual income of US$15.2 billion
--> Are making the 2012 Olympic medals!!!

+ Implementing health and safety, education and sustainability in African mining projects as seen in Guinea
+ Supporting Guinea's Classifed Forest project
+ US$130 million to ensure sustainable water supply for iron ore mining in Australia, with excess water used to cultivate crops needed to feed 30,000 cattle

- Poor working conditions in Nambia and very low wages, leading to strikes both in LDCs and MDCs
- Uranium mine workers exposed to radiation levels 7 times higher than limit
- removed workers health benefits and any other benefits recieved by retired workers
- Contaimination of rivers in UK by posinous metals

- Created in 1962 and originally based in USA
- Largest non-oil based TNC
- Vast majority of production facilites in China where workers are paid less than $3 per weeks and production runs 24/7
- Employ 189,000 females in Bangladesh working in inhuman conditions
- Somthering assembled for $0.18 is retalied for atleast $14.96
- Exported $18 billion worth of goods from China to USA in 2004 alone
- Employs 2.1 million people worldwide, including 1,4 million i USA
- 9600 retail untis operating across 28 countries
- Serves 200 million customers a week
- In USA workers are unhappy with pay, hours and last of health insurance. They are facing lawsuits in 31 states across America for unfair treatment, exploitation of illegal immigrants and discrimination against women
- Fined $10.1 milloin in 2001 for water contamination in Texas

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jet Streams

First up, good luck to all students sitting the Geography exam tomorrow! Now, I have been refraining from writing any climate stuff for a while now but I thought I had better start sometime pretty soon! A while ago Millie covered the basics very well in one post so I will skip that bit (if you want me to go over it again, just let me know!) and so I am going to pick out bits people have said they struggled with the most. So tonight I am going to start with Jet Streams; before going on to the joys of depressions!
Just to ease you all into the subject, here is a little clip produced by the Met Office; on their youtube page they have lots of similar animations/videos for different parts of the climate module that cover the basics.....

Jet Stream = fast flowing, meandering winds found at high altitudes (top of the troposphere), moving west to east (I find it easiest to think of them as 'rivers of air' - my reasoning should become clearer later!). They can travel up to 250km/hr and there are two in each hemisphere:
      - Polar Jet = between polar and ferrel cells, 7 - 12km and fast moving
      - Sub-tropical Jet = between hadley and ferrel cells, 10-16km and weaker due to greater circumference around the Earth

Why do Jet Streams exist?
They are caused by extreme pressure differences in the troposphere generated by the decreasing height towards the poles
           - Hadley Cell = 16km high
           - Ferrel Cell = 12km high
           - Polar Cell = 9km high
This high pressure gradient causes strong winds and as this pressure gradient is greatest at the junctions between the cells it is here that the jet streams are found. As with any moving substance it is deflected by the good old Coriolis Force so they move from west to east.

However, their path is not simple as they meander (just like rivers!). These meanders are known as Rossby Waves - the posh way of describing Rossby Waves is that they are undulations in the path of the Jet Stream that, when become more sinuous (again, just like rivers!) over time, cells of polar air break free.

- The crest of the wave (poleward end) starts to turn back towards the equator so the winds are slowed by Coriolis  and so piles up. This causes convergence, therefore some air must move down towards the surface = anticyclones
- Where a trough (equatorward end) of the wave swings back to the poles, the winds are accelerated by Coriolis, leaving behind less air that the rest of the jet steam, and as such, sucks air up from the surface creating a low pressure system (divergence) = depressions
---> Generally more Rossby Waves occur in winter than in summer (normally 4 in summer, 6 in winter) as north/south pressure gradient is greater over winter when the poles are icy and this increasing strength of the pressure gradient generated more intense and frequent Rossby Waves

That is kind of the sciency bit out of the way but why should we care I hear you all cry! Well, these Jet Streams have great influence over weather.....

- The subtropical jet is found 25 -30 degrees north and south of the equator but does not cover Asia in the summer. This jet is associated with high levels of converging winds which create constant high pressure at the surface (air is sinking) - a crucial characteristic as winds are then forced to diverge, completing the Hadley and Ferrel Cells - this means practically constant anticyclonic conditions at this latitude, leading to formation of deserts

- The polar jet is found 40-60 degrees north and south - yes thats, right, that means it affects UK climate alot! When the polar jet is more southerly, it brings cold air down to the surface (high pressure). The warmed jet then travels northwards (rises, thereby generating low pressure) and brings rain = formation of depressions! Essentially the path of the ket stream steers cyclonic storms in the lower atmosphere and so are useful in relation to weather forecasting i.e 2007 UK floods result of polar jet moving south for the summer where it became stuck under trough of a Rossby Wave. Here is a Met Office blogpost explaining why the jet stream is to (partly) blame for unusual weather these past few months in the UK.....

So thats about it for jet streams I think, I hope it makes sense! Next up is depressions!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Millenium Development Goals

I have had quite a few requests for this one! Sorry it has taken me a while to get round to doing it but I havent really done that much development revision for the last two weeks as have focused on the other modules!

- MDGs are 8 international development goals the 192 UN members and 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by 2015
- World's poorest countries pay almost $100 million every day to MDCs in debt. A number of impoverished countries have recently recieved partial or full debt cancellations though
- MDGs are indeed achievbale with the right policies, adequate levels of investment and international support. Yet, progress has been uneven, and several MDGs will be missed by most countries
- LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS and those vulnerable to natural hazards or those who have just emerged from civil conflict, experience the most extreme challenges and many therefore will not reach the MDGs
- One of the biggest problems has been the global financial crisis: Progress towards the goals is now threatened by sluggish/negative economic growth, diminshed resources, fewer trade oppurtunties for developing countries and possible reductions in aid flows from donor countries. At the same time, the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, with a potenitally devastating impact on countries both rich and poor.

1. Eridicate extreme hunger and poverty (by half)
- Likely to be achieved by 2015 but some will fall far short, leaving 1 billion people in extreme poverty
- Number in extreme poverty fell from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.46 billion in 2005
- Number in extreme poverty anticipated to be 55-90 million more than before the global financial crisis - reductions are occuring at a slower rate
- Meagre progress on child nutrition is insufficient to meet the 2015 target, and will likely be eroded by higher food prices and economic turnmoil

2. Achieve universal primary education
- Improvements too slow to meet 2015 target
- More than 10% out of education, in developing world, 88% in education in 2007
- Sub-Saharan Africa improved by 15% from 2000 to 2007
- In 2007, almost 137 million children stepped into classrooms for the first time; 7 million more than in 1999

3. Promote gender equality and empower women
- 95 girls:100 buys in primary education
- Gender gap in school enrolement more evident in secondary education but more women enrolled at tertiary level
- 2005 target not met but 2015 target is likely to be reached

4. Reduce child mortality (by two thirds)
- Deaths in children under 5 has steadily declined
- Many Asian and sub-Saharan countries have made little or no progress
- Increase in deaths from 4.2 million in 1990 to 4.6 million in 2007, due to population growth
- Sub- Saharan Africa now accounts for 1/2 of all deaths among children under 5

5. Improve maternal health (reduce mortality by 3/4 and increase access to health care)
- 14 countries have maternal death rates of 1000 per 100,000 live births
- Half of all maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa
- Very little progress has been made in sub-Saharan Africa, where women face the greatest lifetime risk of dying as a result of pregancy and childbirth

6. Combat disease (halt and reverse spread)
- 67% of AIDS victims live in sub-Saharan Africa
- 1 million people die of malaria in 2006; 95% lived in sub-Saharan Africa and the vast majority where children under 5. Nevertheless, major progress in fighting malaria has been achieved in recent years

7. Ensure environmental sustainabiltiy
- World ahead of schedule in meeting the 2015 drinking targets
- 36% of urban population live in developing world
- 884 million people worldwide still rely on unimproved water sources. Of this, 84% live in rural areas

8. Global partnerships
- Aid remains below UN targets and in 2008, only Scandinavian countries reached this target
- Increased internet connection is helping countries reach MDGS

That are the 8 goals, with a few statistics about each one. The main aim of the UN's MDGs was to lessen disparity in global levels of development; how successful has this been???

The MDGs are a set of 8 targets created by the UN with the aim of increasing development across the world, not just in LDCs, with the end goal of lessening the development gap to increase the qualit of life for the world population. The goals have targetted improvemements that factor in every aspect of development; which is the process of social and economic advanceents that leads to improvements in peoples quality of life and general wellbeing; although does focus on social advancements. The MDGs recognise signficance of demographic constraints on development, hence the goal to reduce CDR, and the intrinsic nature of education in solveing the issue and so the goals are tailored to address this. Whilst, in theory, the goals have outlined improvements required to enable development, in reality the complexity of probelms faced in LDCS are underestimated so there is no qucik fix. Therefore the timescales for reaching the goals is unrealistic in many examples, with 23 sub-Saharan countries predicted to fall drastically short of MDG4 by 2015. There are also many unintended side effects of this goal and for example the education-related tarets encourage increase number of children in educaition, not also improving quality so, as in Sierra Leone, the full benefits of education are not experienced and athe importance of th'Girl Effect' not witnessed. Also the MDG8 is often not prioritised and countries are becoming increasingly unlikely to meet this as they favour economic sustainability at the expense of the environment as TNC presence is the fastest way to initiate cumulative causation. Whilst MDGs outline steps for development, acheiving the goals relies on aid. Unfortunately, though, the MDGs ahs conicided with the global financial crisis and thereby restrcited the speed at which they can be achieved. Therefore the concept of MDGs is idealistically great for aiding and guiding development but in reality timescales are unrealistic and the MDGs underestimate how much additional help LDCs require to achieve them and the importance of colonialism in enabling many MDCs to develop.

A more recent development, that I am sure you all became aware of after our class discussion regarding climate agreements last week, is that at the Rio+20 conference this summer there is an aim to replace the MDGs with SDGs (sustainability development goals)  to ensure that environmentally sustainability is at the heart of development. What do you think about this idea? Will it work? Will it be a better means to lesson global disparity in development compared to MDGs? Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Groupings of Nations

Got my mock back last week and I think it is safe to say that my development short answer questions didnt go quite as well as they should have done! It also seems that I was not the only one; with many struggling with the questions focusing on international groupings.... so for those out there, like me, who didn't do to well, here is a post of positive and negatives of groupings, with examples! Enjoy!
First up, some groupings we should be aware of - there are others but these are the ones I am planning on using!

APEC = Asia=Pacific Economic Cooperation
- loose grouping of countries bordering the Pacific Ocean (21 members including USA and China)
- pledged to facililate free trade amongst themselves and developing countries by 2015
- created in 1989 in responseto EU and each member has a separate economy
- recently China signed bilateral free trade deals with a number of APEC countries
- criticised as failed to clearly define themselves for a purpose and have yet to really achieve anything
- posess 40% of world's population, 54% GDP and 44% world trade

NAFTA = North American Free Trade Agreement
- Canada, Mexico and USA
- formed in 1994 to have free trade but also co-operation, invest  in each other and promote competition between each other to a degree that would boost industrial output
- trade between the 3 members tripled between 1993 and 2007
- TNCs and FDI has relocated to Mexico (= Maquiladora towns), causing unemployment in USA
- NAFTA is the largest trade bloc in terms of GDP
NAAEC = North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation
NAALC = North American Agreement of Labour Co-operation
- Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa etc
- emerged during 2003 Cancun meeting on world trade
- powerful group which is starting to challenge the EU and US regarding trade negotiations
- insisting rich countriesmake concessions on agriculture before there will be any service or tariff reducions on manufactured goods
= 60% world population
= 70% of world's farmers
= 26% of world exports
Group of 77 (now actually 130 members!)
- all LDCs, forming the largest intergovernmental organisation
- gives voice to LDCs in world issues, promoting South-South co-operation for development
- China is an ally but not an offical member
- walked out of the Copenhagen 2009 climate negotiations
AU = African Union
- aiming to achieve democracy, peace, security, integration and human rights throughout Africa
- intervened in 2003 in Burundi and sent 7000 peacekeepers to Sudan since the Darfur Crisis started
- adopted a number of new documents including AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Crime in 2003
- future considerations include creation of a free trae, single market, central bank and a comment currency (AEC) by 2023
- nominal GDP of $1.627 trillion but measuring GDP by PPP, collectively AU totals $2.849 trillion, ranking it 6th after Germany

EU = European Union
- 1957 Treaty of Rome created EEC with 6 members
- now EU has 27 members with over 500 million citizens = 3rd largest
- single currency exists between 16 members
- 22% of world's total economic output
- EDF directs aid to developing countries and ERDF to members
- 178 out of 500 largest corporations have headquarters in the EU
* Has EU grouping only worked as countries allowed to join are located close to huge global markets, thereby enabling them to develop? Therefore AU would not work as they have no developed countries to 'feed off of', no global market to exploit and no model for development.....also there is the huge issue of peace. The EU was initially created to promote intercontinental peace and without peace Africa will not develop as a continent.
* Eurasian Union??? Groupings could become dangerous when global climate change makes life challenging and Russia could be a good place to move to. So would a Eurasian Union be a could idea???

What impacts do groupings have on development?
Although the contemporary world is increasingly globalised, groups of nations are still viewed as one of the best approaches to development; which is the process of social and economic advancements that allows for improvements in peoples quality of life and general wellbeing. Whilst most global groups share a common aim they are all slightly different; with the WTO set up as a liberalising organisation by capatialist countries to organise world trade, the EU developed after WW2 to integrate economies and thus power to prevent intercontinental conflict and the G-77 designed to give poor nations a voice in the international affairs of this money driven world - with these just three examples. In theory these global groupings should help all members achieve economic and social development, as a consequence of eased movement of goods, people and knowledge, but, in reality, not every member always experiences the benefits with some groupings collectively failing to make any progress towards achieving the ultimate goal of globally paralled development.

+ spread of knowledge and culture = multicultural society which has aided globalisation
+ less social segregation and better understanding/appreciation of others = increased chance of peace as removes psychological barriers to integration.
      >EU = worked!
      >AU = NO! Due to inherent cultural differences which have not been seen to such a degree anywhere else ---> link to colonialism
+ European warrnat arrests has permitted increased global crackdon on crime e.g arrest of Bosian war criminals

- loss of indentity and culture
- some social tensions

+ single currency removes costs of business transactions
+ unemployment solved due to migration (However, money often moved away from country) which helps remove demographic constraints on development i.e Polish migration to UK (population case study from AS)
+ structural funds help poor countries and those within groups e.g EDF and ERDF
+ increases trading within blocs and TNCs attracted to regions to avoid trading tariffs

- debt defaulting
- market flucuations affect everyone in the group
      > Eurozone crisis at present is best example as vulnerability is accentuated by single currency

+ greater overall democratic function
+ greater awareness of dictatorhsips and violations of human rights i.e NATO and Libya
+small nations given a voice in world affairs
* Groupings of nations could help form a more collective effort to mitigate climate change and adapt to coming changes???

- potential for conflict to escalate
- pressure to adopt centralised legislations i.e CAP and CFP!

+ sustainability kept and grown within groups
+ collective effort to protect environment with funding set aside for this purpose

- unintended consequences of CFP

+ Brain gain/ Brain drain
+ migration solving demographic constraints on development i.e Europe's ageing populations

As you can probably tell, I started to run out of ideas for environmental and demographic. These are just a few examples and if you can think of any really good ones for environmental and demographic then please let me know!

Keep you requests for topics to be covered coming in and don't forget Millie's live revision workshops on Wednesdays at 19:30 - if you have missed any you can catch the replays on her blog!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Economic Globalisation

Just a few quick notes on economic globalisation!

GATT = General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
- negotiated during UN confernce on Trade and Employment and outcome of failure of negotiating governments to create the ITO (International Trade Organisation)
- formed in 1947 and replaced WTO in 1995

WTO = World Trade Organisation
- incepted by capitalist economices, as a liberlising organisation, to organise world trade
- designed to help trade flow as freely as possible without detrimental side effects

Free Trade: Good or Bad?
Makes sense for countries to specialise in producing goods that they can produce most efficiently, and to trade their surpleses of these goods for the products they cannot produce, or are less efficient at producing
= principles of free trade
HOWEVER, free trade is risky as it introduces competition and often countries try to protet themselves from this by introducing tariffs which make foreign imports more expensive. Subsidies and quotas are also often introduced to have the same effect.
Currently, though, trade rules are unfair as some countries are forced to accept goods from abroad, whilst others protect their market with import tariffs, quotas and subsidies.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank
- play minor roles in running world economy
- IMF established to oversee global financial system and other assistance and renegotiate debt for struggling countries
- World Bank tries to reduce poverty in LDCs and promotes sustainable development

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Colonialism and Development

Hello everyone! During half term I had may requests to write about colonialism as many expressed concern about a lack of note. I did post the essay I wrote on "To What Extent Is Colonialism To Blame For Low Levels Of Development In Sub-Saharan Africa?" - you know the first essay we wrote this year - as this is what I am using to revise from as it includes all the key case studies I am planning to use. However, a few of you said you still didn't really find that helpful, so I am going to try and briefly explain it for you!

COLONIALISM = a movement with the sole purpose of constructing and conserving colonies in one territroy by people from another

- European powers had a 'scramble for Africa' in the late 1800s and all land was claimed as colonies except Ethopia and Liberia
- Capturing of the Moroccan town of Ceuta in 1415 by the Portuguese marked the beginning of European colonialism in Africa
- Main European colonial powes were the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain
- 'Scramble for Africa' saw 1/5 of the globe added to European overseas territories
- 1884 Berlin Conference witnessed the fragmentation of the African continent from 10,000 territories to 57, as present
- Colonialismestablished the economies of many parts of Africa for many years due to the exporting of materials but left them economically vulnerbable as were reliant on one export
- African nations began to gain independence between the late 1950s and 1960s - note: not all colonies were African and India gained independence in 1947
- After gaining independence, countries aligned themselves with either the USA/France (mainly central and southern nations) or USSR (northern states), and they recieved aid from such countries, although in many cases primarily military aid

How has Colonialism hindered Development in sub-Saharan Africa?

- Civil conflict due to the fragmentation, which occured at the 1884 Berlin Conference, as this occurred without consideration of psychological or societal divisions
- Religions introduction to Africa was a secondary impact if colonialism as did not aid unification, so by generating social tensions only increased the chance of civil conflict, and also hampered disease treatment, especially AIDS/HIV due to no recongition of use of contraception
- Impacts of disease were accentuated by colonial legacy as in worn torn nations it is increasingly difficult to deliver aid to those in need

- Formation of dictatorships which have hindered formation of stable and sustainable trade partnerships, thus limited export potential, thereby restricting economic growth
- Political instability is not attractive to TNCs whose presence and appending FDI can provoke cumulative causation, and thereby accelerate development
- No peace means not options for preferential trading or successful groupings of nations

- TNCs exploiting land that lacks environmental legislation, leading to environmental degradation, desertification and deforestation - evidence for the 'paradox of plenty'???
- Environmental exploitation and contamination leads to distruption of any regulatory in food and water supplies and quality

- Siphoning of resource wealth continued past post-independence trade agreements
- Economic vulnerability due to reliance on one export (this is a characteristic of all LDCs)
- Formation of HIPCs with most debts originating from ambitious development projects initiated by corrupt leaders following independence

- Colonialism lead to introduction of European lifestyles, principally introduction of religion, which only increased population growth rate, which is expected to exceed Asia's
- Bites in population pyramids due to civil conflict and ethnic cleansing are demographically biased, targetting the young fit men which impacts agricultural productivity

The above are some on the ways colonialism has affected development throughout Africa and then how the resonnace of the colonial era continues to hinder development - for case studies, look at the essay, as I am too lazy to write them all out again! I was trying to think of positives of colonialism on Africa but I am finding it quite difficult. In India, for example there is the education system that was installed, with lessons taught in English which has greatly enabled its development via the service industry, but for Africa I am finding it quite hard. If you have any ideas then let me know!

What were the impacts of Colonialism for MDCs (the colonialists!)?
I think this is quite an interesting question as we don't seem to look at it from this perspective but do you think the UK, for example, would have developed so fast without colonialism and would we have gone so whole heartedly down the route of industrialisation? I don't think it would have happened so fast and underestimating the importance of colonialism in early development is arguably one of the biggest criticisms of the Rostow Model of Development. Formation of colonies gave us access to raw materials, provided jobs and a workforce which we exploited, whilst also enabling early trade partnerships; all of which were intrinsic to our development. Therefore could we say that the UK would not have developed without colonialism? Maybe that is going a bit far, but I definently think that it played an important role - let me know what you think?

- There is now a new 'dash' for land in Africa but not from Europe this time, but instead from the oil rich Gulf states and Asia. Countries like Saudi Arabia and China are leasing huge tracts of sub-Sahara, sometimes in exchange for money, ports, schools etc, are using the land to grow crops for food and biofuels to send back home. Is this right? Well, developed countries do not really possess the moral highground to object and stop this as it is essentially the same as what we did! Can nations benefit from this with regards to development? It is probably to early to say, but if it is legal, managed and fair then sub-Sahara may benefit whilst its waits for the global shift (which could be for a while!!!). However, the biggest issue could be the leasing of fertile soils in areas which already struggle to feed their growing populations - a subject you need to form you own opinion on!!!

I think this really covers the basics and hopefully for those of you who didn't understand my essay, this makes a bit more sense. As this area is missing from the textbook, I am guessing it is something we need to understand and be aware of but is not perhaps something we are likely to be asked directly about; well that is what I am hopinf for anyway!

I am thinking about moving on to write about climate for a while, with some tectonic stuff, so let me know if there are any topics, especially with development and globalisation before I move on too far, that you would like me to cover - case study maps for all three modules are on the way but they take a while so you will have to bare with me! I hope the revision is going well!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Geography related Books and Films

Teachers may disagree with this but I dont necessarily think that staring at a textbook all night every night is the only way to revise. Of course there is no substitute for hard work but sometimes (especially for development) I think that watching a relevant film can be quite good. Now for those of you who have kept up with your three hours extra reading each week since Septembet (haha!) then you may have watched/readed a few of these but seeing as a few have asked me for suggestions, I thought I would just qucikly write it all up on here! Follow the links for more detailed reviews, explanation of relevance to modules and trailers....
Development and Globalisation:
Darfur - a group of international journalists travel to a village in Darfur in search of evidence to persuade the UN that genocide has occured but are forced to live after the Janjaweed turn up and threaten to kill them. I am sure you are all aware of the Darfur Crisis and it is a case study you caould name-drop into an answer, also could be useful AS population module but be warned it is very graphic and definetly not one for the faint-hearted!

Invictus - after 27 years imprisionment, Mandela becomes South Africa's first elected president and this film follows his bid to unite the country via the rugby world cup, seeing unification as a prerequisite to development.

Goodbye Bafana - follows the unlikely friendship that forms between Mandela and his prision officer and illustrates some of the social and political impacts of colonialism in South Africa and how they continued to hinder development.

Blood Diamond - amid the explosive civil war overtaking 1999 Sierra Leone; it explores many issues including those surrounding the diamond trade, supply of arms to rebels and child soldiers. This includes links to globalisation, colonialism, the 'paradox of plenty' and simply how civil unrest prevents development.

Painted Veil -  set in China, in the 1920's, and explores the impact of a cholera outbreak on a village, including references as to how religious beliefs make containing cholera even more challenging and the impacts of an earthquake. Focuses quite a bit on the importance of a water supply to development - the link to the module is slightly more tenuous than with some of the other films and books but it is still worth a watch!
Cry Freedom - in South Africa and tells the true story of Biko and his friendship with a white liberal newspaper editor. Good film to watch for development as explores impact of apartheid on development and the importance of political stability for development to occur.

Gandhi -  a biopic about the life of Gandhi with particular reference to his prominent role in India's struggle for freedom from colonial rule.

Slumdog Millionaire - provides an insight into the life of children living in the Indian slums the problems associated here. Also illustrates how they are trying to improve education to enable development.

Erin Brockovich - a good film that presents the negative impacts of the natural gas industry and the extent to which large companies are prepared to go to, to cover this up. Not only would this be good for the AS Energy module but also globalisation with reference to the negative impact of TNCs.

The Constant Gardener - a rather sad story about how a drug company exploit the Kenyan population to allow them to test a new drug, despite the fact they know it has harmful side effects. Also explores the idea of corrupt governments and issues faced in LDCs.
The Cove - this film is very thought provoking and presented the issues surrounding the dolphin trade - before watching this I didn't know a lot about the issue, especially the scale of it in Japan, and it left me feeling very shocked that something like this still exists today in such a developed country. Issues of groupings, tied aid and trade are briefly explored also.

Blood River by Tim Butcher - tells the story of Tim Butchers quest to retrace the journey taken by H.M Stanley in the 1870s. from this you get an insight into the history of the Congo and the factors have effected its development - great book for the development and globalisation module as it provides an insight into the impact colonialism has had on Africa. Chasing the Devil: On Foot Through The Killing Fields of Africa is another Tim Butcher book, although this time based in Sierra Leona, that covers many issues intrinsic to low levels of development in Africa and the problems associated with this.

The Boy Who Harnessed The Power Of The Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer - tells the extraordinary true story of a Malawian teenager who overcame many obstacles to provide electricity and clean water for his village by capturing the energy in both the wind and the sun. Good for AS Energy as well as A2 development and illustrates the importance of energy supplies and appropraite technology to development. It also touches on the issues of living in areas of climatic extremes, the role of education and how corrupt governments influence aid distribution.
PeopleQuake: Mass migration, ageing nations and the coming population crash by Fred Pearce - a book about the population bomb and how demographics is driving politics. Explore how we got to this point and where we are currently heading and how it can be solved. Therefore it is a great book for AS Population (covers practically the entire module with some useful case studies and statistics!) and for A2 development and Globalisation. Human geographers will not doubt love this book but any geographer out there, like myself, who get carried away with the science and forget to mention people, this book is worth a read!
Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz - as chief economist at the World Bank that author has a unique insider's view into the management of globalisation. In this book he speaks out against the IMF and WTO and the role of the West in driving global politics. This makes it a very good book for globalisation!

Plate Tectonics and Associated Hazards:

Aftershock - based around the Tangshan 1976 earthquake, which killed 242,000 people and coincided with huge political changes in China. This film cover issues including aid, politics and follows China as it changes over the time period covered. However, it is centred on one question; which 7 year twin will the mother chose to save? Bewarned it is a very said film, Millie was not overexaggerating when she said it was!

Dantes Peak - we watched this one in class, the worksheet we used in lessons is on Millie's blog so this could be a useful thing to watch and complete again as part of your revision. Covers preparation, evacuation and monitoring techniques as well as a few inaccuracies that you should be able to point out!

Eruptions That Shook The World by Clive Oppenheimer - I havent quite finished this book yet but I thought I should mention it as I am finding it quite useful for finding the odd statistic or two! Bascially this book covers everything we need to know about volcanoes and a bit more! Geologists, this is probably a really good book for you to read, but for Geographers it does link all the volcano stuff back to its impacts on people.

Weather, Climate and Associated Hazards:

The Day After Tomorrow - the Larsen B ice shelf collapses, the thermohaline circulation shutdowns, provoking glacial inception in the northern hemisphere, with other appending impacts - a good film to watch and then point out the geographical/scientific mistakes to test how much you have understood about the influence of ocean circulation on global climate and how a freshwater input could affect it!
Encounters at the End of the World - a great documentary with some simply stunning footage and interesting interviews that collectively provide an insight into life in Antarctica and the important research that is taking place
The Age of Stupid - great film to watch for the energy module as it talks about climate change, energy consumption and production via some interesting case studies so also good for the A2 climate module
Gaia by James Lovelock - presents the Gaia hypothesis which is the idea that the Earth functions as a living organism and so self-regulates to adapt to changing conditions. This book puts forward some very interesting ideas, linked very closely to climate change both naturally and anthropogenically forced, making for an interesting read!

 The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock - applies the Gaia hypothesis to global climate change - again an intriguing read which presents some interesting ideas and solutions to problems we are likely to face with population expansion and coming global climate change
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore - I am guessing most will have heard of this one! It presents the issue of climate change and discusses how it has been caused and the impacts it is likely to have - well worth a read but if you prefer there is also a film version.

Our Choice by Al Gore - this book follows on from An Inconvenient Truth by offering the solutions Al Gore thinks are required to solve the issue of global climate change
Here on Earth by Tim Flannery - This is essentially a "revolutionary dual biography of the planet and our species." It covers the history of the earth from its earliest origins to the world we currently live in. it offers answers to a long list of questions - How did life first emerge? What forces have shaped it? Why did humans come to dominate? And when didiwe start to have an impact? How has this changed use as a species? It is probably wise to have a bit of knowledge of the Gaia hypothesis before reading this as it does mention this a bit. It is a very interesting book and one that leaves you questioning why on earth we did some of the things we have and continue to do - essentially a great book for all Earth Scientists!

Climate Wars: The Fight For Survival As The World Overheats by Gwynne Dyer - "An increase of 2C in average lobal temperature - which is almost inevitable - will hear global politics to boiling point." Bringing together extensive interviews and latest research this book revela the realities of a planet facing scarce food, water and land. Can out technology save us, or is it too late? It is written in an interesting way as takes the science, makes it understandable before focusing on what excatly this means for society now and in the future. Any geographers out there, like myself, who get too carried away with the science of climate change, without consideration of what that means for people, this book is definently worth a read!!!
Storms of My Grandchildren: The truth about the coming climate change and our last chance to save humanity by James Hansen - covers global climate change, with both causes and consequences and the more contemporary role of politics, especially in the USA, in climate research - an interesting read but in places the level of science goes beyond the A-level syllabus.

Well, there are plenty more but this is probably enough to keep you busy for a while! There are also all the relevant documentaries, parts of which we have watched in lessons, like How Earth Made Us, for example, and I think quite a few of them are in the LRC. Unfortunately not many Geography related things are that happy so perhaps don't watch/read them all at the same time! I am still on the hunt for a 'happy' geography film or book! If you have any suggestions for others, or any comments on the above, let me know!