Friday, 20 May 2011

A bit of Geography related news..........

So, the Geography exam is out of the way now - I hope it went well - and so I can finally move on from writing revision related posts (which I hope were useful) and start writing about some slightly more interesting things. I thought I would quickly outline the things I am planning to write about over the next few weeks, once I have finished the rest of my exams, whilst we don't have any Geography lessons. So, firstly there will be a few book and film reviews that I have been meaning to write for the past month or so followed by some more in depth posts into interesting and easily debatable areas that haven't fitted into the sylabus we have just finished and just some general Geography topics that I don't really know alot about but would like to. I hope it doesn't get too boring or that I start to scare you with my enthusiam but I have been banned by my family from talking about anything remotely Geography related for the next three weeks, until lessons restart, and have been told to write it all on here, so they can be spared from it - I think it is safe to say that they aren't as interested in Geography as I am!

Tonight it is only going to be a short post (I think) from me on a few stories that I have read in the news that have caught me eye........

  • Ever since the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill last year, the way in which countries and oil companies are able to respond to such disasters has come under public scrutiny, with many calling for more preparation and better methods incase such a disaster was to occur again. Well, this week, the UK tested its planned repsonse to an oil spill off to the west of Shetland. The exercise, named Exercise Sula, involved the use of oil spill containment booms and planes spraying water to simulate dispersant. The aim of the exercise was to test the responses of the numerous authorities that would be involved in a response to an oil spill. However, perhaps, the greatest obstacle faced by the authorities involved was dealing with the weather conditions. Over the two day exercise, winds frequently reached 50mph and strong waves that prevented the the full extent of the booms, which would be required normally, to be set out whilst the pretend dispersant was been blown everywhere and anywhere. Therefore, this suggests that, perhaps, this is the not necessarily the best method to use in the repsonse to an oil spiil - especially if one was to occur during winter! However, atleast it can be said that we are taking an active role in improving the global preparation for another oil spill which, because we are digging deeper and deeper wells, the probability of such a disaster occuring again is increasing. This National Geographic article would be of interest to anyone who is interested in the regulations in place in the USA about drilling oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico and anything else linked to BP and exploration for oil in this area of the world - While BP Eyes Return to the Gulf, Safeguards Debated .
  • I have personally never thought about a possible link between earthquakes and glacial lakes before but apparently the relationship between the two could be disasterous for countries, such as Nepal , which lies at the base of the Himalayas. The Himalayas is a sesmically active region that is covered in glacial lakes which, due to the melting of glaciers, are growing and with an earthquake, predicted, to be overdue, the risk of one of these glacial lakes rupturing threatens to flood huge areas downstream. The epicentre being close a glacial lake, thereby causing it to 'explode', is not the only way in which an earthquake has the potential to rupture these growing lakes. Avalanches and landslides, which can be provoked by earthquakes, can also have a similar effect. For example, in 1985 the glacial lake Dig Tsho, in eastern Nepal, ruptured due to an avalanche and it resulted in the flooding of a nearby HEP plant and much other infrastructure. So, why has this not been a big problem before and why are people only just starting to sound their concerns? Well, the last time a big earthquake occured in the Himilayas was in 1934 and the glacial lakes only really started to appear in the 1950's and they have since grown, therefore have come into closer contact with the most sesmically active areas of the Himilayas. This poses a huge threat for many countries lying at the base of the Himalayas - most of which have large and expanding populations...........
  • Switching now to the other side of the globe, to another worrying story. The deforestation rates in Brazil are on an increase with 480 kilometres squared worth of forest being lost over 8 weeks in the Mato Grosso region - a fivefold increase on last year. This increase is believed to have been caused by the uncertainity and the public political disagreements over the forest consevation rules which vary spatially with farmers in the Amazon having to preserve 80% of the forest whilst farmers elsewhere onyl have to preserve 20% - Lets just hope that this new trends does not continue and Brazil reverts back to reducing its deforestation rates which fell to their lowest since the 1980's last year.
  • A bit of Geography TV now....... I watch the first episode of Windfarm Wars as part of my revision for the exam and I just caught the second episode on BBC iPlayer. Windfarm Wars is a 4 part documentary that follows the struggle of windfarm developers as they try to persuade the council and locals, in a village near Dartmoor, to allow for the development of a wind farm nearby and they processes they have to go through and the problems and opposition they face. This is the link to the first two episodes if anyone is interested -
  • China has now acknowledged the problems associated with the Three Gorges Dam and has said that steps need to be taken to help the 1.3 million displaced by the construction of this $40 billion project, protect the environment and prevent any major geological disasters occuring.

  • And finally, a quick update on the future of nuclear power. The findings of the initial report commisioned by the UK government was published this week and concluded that there is no need to prevent the further development of nuclear power in the UK because of the events in Japan. Protection against coastal flooding was taken into account in this report as rising sea levels could threaten most of the nuclear power plants in the UK as they are built along the coast but all were found to be suffieciently protected. The situation in Japan is slightly different as the Prime Minister has announced that the country will not build any new reactors and instead, to make up the energy shortfall, greatly increase its use of renewables - especially wind.

This blog is likely to be greatly neglected until half term and all my exams are over and so good luck to everyone in the rest of your exams - especially to those of you resitting the skills exam on Tuesday. Encase you havent read Millie's blog recently or seen the FB page, she is running an online revision session on Monday evening at 19:30 - I am sure it will be very beneficial to join in - and so check out her blog for more details.

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