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!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Climate Modelling - [based on video notes from Earth: The Climate Wars]

Hello everyone! I hope the revision is going well; only like 8 more weeks of hard work and then it will all be over!!!

Climate modelling is a really, really complicated mathematical area and I got the pleasure of spending some time with many of the worlds best climate modellers whilst at the Met Office. During my time there, understanding modelling was an area that I really struggled to understand and my inquistive nature lead to much confusion on my part (sometimes I really need to just accept things!). Fortunately it seems that we dont really need much knowledge on the modelling but I thought I would summarise what we should have learnt from the documentary we watch - if anyone fanices learning more, this could be a good topic to look into over your long summer holidays (it is on my list for looking at!) and there is some stuff on the blog about it; word of warning though, the maths get very confusing very fast!!!

Here is the links to the three episodes, in order - we only watched the third one in class....
- The worlds first climate models were far from computer based! Instead small scale models were used and these helped to formulate the basics of atmospheric circulation, allowing scientists to generate the basic laws that the atmosphere abides by. However they failed to represent the complex oceanic/atmospheric intergration or predict weather patterns
- Computer modelling was first used to predict the weather on a 24 hour timescale. However, at first it was taking 24 hours to produce a forecast and was not until the 1970s that this became efficient enough and worked reasonably well
- Early on, the models were not deemed that reliable and consequently many climate skeptics used this as a point of attack, saying that as results were not reliable, it could not be said that climate change was happening in reality
- It was not until the 1991 Pinatubo eruption that the models could be tested to see if predictions were accurate. Hansen, a world leader in climate modelling used the eruption to see if the models predictions of the extent of cooling caused was accurate. This event was ideal due to timing of eruption and duration of impacts. The 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens unfortunately came to early to be used to test modelling accurracy due to level of computer technology at that time
- Subsequently, by the late 1990s climate models were deemed, worldwide, as reliable and so their projections viewed with confidence. At this time the models were suggesting that a doubling of CO2 would increase global temperatures by 3C. However, this will never be 100% accurate as resolution of the models still needs improving and modellers still struggle to ensure computers consider influential factors in affecting climate on a smaller, more local scale - this is quite a good explanation of why climate modelling has improved over the years, produced by the Met Office -  Climate Modelling

- There is also the complication of field observations, which are crucial in producing the models, and the increasing level of understanding we are gaining over time. This is an inherent problem with climate modelling and will continue to be as we discover new feedbacks operating in the climate system. The example in the video was based around glacial movements as a once believed 'dead' glacier became 'alive' again and started moving at a faster rate, as the planet has warmed, this has then increased the rate of sea level rise etc. Feedbacks control the extent of change with negative considered stable and positive feedbacks often detrimental due to their amplyfing effect. These feedbacks are very hard to model  so uncertainities will always exisr with modelling; meaning tht changes in sea level, for example, could happen a lot quicker than models predict
- 1961: Lorentz's discovered 'chaos' in the climate sytem by changing degree of rounding used in models and this went on to explain variations in modelling projections. Thousand of runs and run and the general trend is then taken and countries all use different models. The UK uses the Met Offices HadCM3 which was influential in both IPCC AR3 and AR4. Ensemble forecasting is being used to an increasing degree. Ensemble forecasting basically means that all the different runs are started at slightly differing conditions and then by comparing the results it produces a much better idea of what weather events will occur at a given time.
- The discovery of the 'Chaos Theory' made climate scientists realise that there were factors with an influence on climate that they had yet to discover and incorporate in models or to quantify their signigicance
- Proxy data such as Greenland ice cores and pollen and beetles help us formulate the temperature record going back to the Younger Dryas. Understanding how past climates have changed and incorporating this knowledge into modelling helps to make long term prediction more accurate than say the 5 day forecast. The proxy record also indicates that abrupt climate change is possible
- So, far Antartica seems to have experienced the most rapid climate change, especially in terms of sea ice coverage. In 2007 sea ice shrunk by an area 10 times the size of the UK, leading to some scientists predicting that in a decade no sea ice will remain during summertime in this area
- Models say that warming may be slow and steady but history indicates it can be rapid and so we are now experiencing changes happening at a faster rate than model predictions and faster than we originally thought
- Technology has allowed us to deal with some climate condition e.g Las Vegas is built in a desert yet is full of water, thanks to the Hoover Dam which created the 100 mile long Lake Mead. An 8 year drought has been experienced in this region though and models suggest that the drought will continue and, as population expands, water will become scarce and Lake Mead will become ineffective by the late 2020s

So, these are all the notes I managed to take! The basic knowledge we need to have for climate modelling I think is a bit about when they were developed, how they started off etc and then why there are uncertainities and why they are still considered unreliable. Within in this, you need to be able to link in the use of Mount Pinatubo and proxy data to reduce modelling unceratinity but meanwhile realise that they will arguably never be 100% certain. Hopefully I have covered all of this!

'Paradox of Plenty' - Myth or Reality???

Ever since watching the film Blood Diamond, reading some of Tim Butcher's books on various African countries and revising the impacts of colonialism on sub-Saharan African development; I have been thinking about this idea of the 'Resource Curse', also known as the 'Paradox of Plenty'. The general idea is that, in some cases, on balance, natural resource abundance is more of a hindrance than driver of development...... BUT the question is, is this a myth or can an abundance of natural resources significantly hamper development?

Attraction of colonial powers to Africa is perhaps testament to the existence of the ‘Paradox of Plenty’, whereby the abundant raw material reserves easily exploitable and profitable offered by Africa, provoked detrimental European attention, consequential impacts clearly visible in Sierra Leone and along the Gold Coast. This is not only seen in Africa but in other parts of the world too and neo-colonialism in Africa and South America is arguably a continuation of this trend. This is the idea on its very basic level and there are many complexities to it, with economic repercussions, such as economic vulnerability as perhaps countries with one abundant raw material are more likely to rely on that for trading and industry, generating a lack of economic diversity that leaves the nation vulnerable to market fluctuations.

However, as a continent, South America through preferential trading has illustrated the benefits that possessing resources can have and how, if exploited, they can help accelerate the process of development. Therefore, this indicates that if utilised appropriately it can help rather than hinder development so why is it then that having resources has so far failed to aid African development?
The re-occuring development hindrance seems to be the lack of peace and political stability throughout the continent and once peace can be achieved then perhaps development will occur. However cultural differences are so inherent in society, to a degree not previously seen that, when combined with political instability formulates a strong barrier against trade and ensuring environmentally sustainable resource exploitation can be utilised to generated economic sustainablility that can support development.

As with much of this Development and Globalisation stuff, there is no right or wrong answer, but forming opinions on it is crucial so let me know what you think! Does the Paradox of Plenty exist in reality??? And, if so, what can be done to dilute its influence?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Quick review of basics of globalisation...

Hello everyone - I hope the revision is going well!!! I thought I better crack on with some revision notes considering our mock is coming up soon!

Before I start though, and this is linked to globalisation, this is quite an interesting article regarding the future for Asia and is probably worth a read as part of your revision - Will This Be The Asian Century?
GLOBALISATION = increasing interconnectedness of the world's economics, culture and politics
    Economic globalisation = existence of TNCs/MNCs and the role they play in the global economy and development; also the existence of the WTO, tariffs and quotas etc

    Political globalisation = existence of trade blocs and groupings of nations
    Cultural globalisation = westernisation of other cultures and global marketing strategies

Measuring globalisation:-
We have four methods of measuring globalisation - I don't think we really covered this in much detail in clase but there is a very detailed geofile in the module booklet on it....

1. Globalisation Index
---> 72 countries ranked account for 97% of the world's GDP and 88% of the worlds population
Takes into account:
- FDI, trade, tourism data
- International phone calls
- Number if internet users and hosts
- Political engagementin international organisations

2. KOF Index of Globalisation
Takes into account:
- Actual economic flows and restrictions on trade and capital
- Number of organisations and UN peace keeping missions engaged with
- Personal contacts, information flows and cultural proximity

3. Global Internet Use
---> took 4 years for 50 million internet users to be reached
---> digital divide between countries and between urban and rural areas
---> 75% of all internet users are from MDCs, accounting for only 14% of the global population

4. Geographical Variations In Landlines
---> population size /density/wealth, TNC presence, migration, language, colonial history all influence spatial variation in landline usage

.....interestingly, as with development indicators, all these measures of globalisation yield different results!!!

Factors that have permitted Globalisation to occur.....
1. Development of Internet and Teleconnections:- ensured the spread of capital and quick communication around the globe, practically instaneously

2. Increased Mobility and Containerisation:- goods can easily and cheaply move around, just like people, resulting in transfer of cultures and knowledge also

3. Political Stability and Improved Foreign Relations:- trade agreements and formation of groupings

Patterns of Production, Distribution and Consumption

Production = shift from MDCs to LDCs, provoking de-industralisation in MDCs and industralisation in LDCs
e.g British Steel employed 150,000 which fell to only 35,000 in 2000
TNCs move abroad primarily due to cheap labour costs, and due to colonalism, ability to speak English in large work forces. Also they offer raw materials with minimal environmental legislation. However some re-industralisation of MDCs has occured as they require expertised and being within a group means they avoid tariffs. Although due to globalisation, contemporary production is a truly global affair!

Distribution = all about containerisation!!! This reduced transport costs so much it is possible to have truly global products
e.g Wimbledon tennis ball is now produced in the Philippines to reduce transport costs
Containerisation is the development of standardised containers which occured in the 1960s, with ships limited by the Malcca Max, and was intrinsic to globalisation.
- 90% non-bulk cargo moved by containers, with 26% from China

Consumption = higher in MDCs as have disposable incomes but fastest rates of growth are in NICs
Richest fifth consume:-
- 45% of all meat and fish
- 58% of total energy
- 74% of all telephone lines
- 84% of all paper
- 87% of vehicle fleet

Monday, 9 April 2012

Development and Globalisation Disussion

Those of you that joined in the discussion last week seemed to enjoy it and I hope you learnt something from it! I must say though I wasn't expecting it to go on for as long as it did! Consequently, I am going to host another one, this Thursday, going live at 7:30pm again and hopefully we can finish off the last bit of development (just aid left I think) and then go through globalisation.

Join in if your around and you can leave questions and discussion points on here in advance!!!

Aid - Is it working? To what extent is it helping LDCs develop?

Hello - I hope everyone's revision is going well, it is hard work isnt it!!! I have had a few requests for this topic, and am going to link in African debt, so here goes.....

Aid is a rather controversial subject as is whether we should cancel LDCs debt...... How effective is the aid we give? Is it actually helping improve peoples quality of life? How dangerous is reliance upon aid? When should we stop giving aid to countries i.e India? Is trade better than aid? Should debts of LDCs be cancelled?
First up though, a few key definitions:
BILATERAL AID = aid that is directly given to the government of one country from another
MULTILATERAL AID = aid that is given by governments to international organsiations which use the money to assist programs in other pooer countries
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs) = distribute aid in a variety of ways. Many are charities which raise money for development projects, ensuring aid is directed to the people who truly need it
SHORT TERM AID = given in response to a sudden problem within a country - usually a natural disaster
LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS = where help, advice and investment is given on such things like agriculture, energy supplies, infrastructure, education and medical supplies
TOP DOWN AID = where a responsible body, internally or externally, directs the operations 'from the top'
BOTTOM UP SCHEMES/GRASSROOTS INITIATIVES = often funded by NGOs, working closely with local communites and using their ideas and knowledge to bring about more change (more sustainable???)
TRADE = the act or process of buying, selling, or exchanging commodities, at either wholesale or retail, within a country or between countries.
HIPC = Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

Origins of African Debt
- For somer countries, like Ghana, debt began with ambitious development projects in the 1960s following independence and the formation of dictatorships which were a result of vast power vacuums generated
- By the 1970s most independent sub-Saharan countries were seriously in debt
- Oil crisis of 1970s dramatically increased the price of imports
- Worldwide recession decreased the willingness of the USA and former colonial powers to distribute aid in grants
- Consequently, between 1970-1976 Africa's public debt quadrupled
- Debt servicing began to take a substantial portion of GDP
- Demands of debt and structural adjustment often rendered governments less able to supply the needs of their people and less able to claim grassroots legitmacy
- Debt seen as attached to a country, not a government - therefore is transferred even when government is deemed illegitimate

Aid - NOTE: not all aid given is in the form of money!
- Since the 1970s, general trend has been a decrease in aid to Africa (halfed by 1990)
- A large proportion of what is counted as aid by donor countries is known as 'phantom' aid - e.g same 50% of all technical assistance is said to be wasted due to inappropriate usage on expensive consultants, their living expenses and training
- Aid frequently carries restrictions with regards to its use

- Most donor countries use aid as part of a broader forgein policy focused on 'national interests'
- USA has directed aid to regions which pose national security threats whereas Sweden has targetted 'progressive societies' and France to preserve and spread its language and culture
- However, as of 2000, over 2/3 of American aid was tied

Recent Improvements......
- A shift towards more grassroots projects following the successes of NGOs in small scale poverty alleviation
- Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK have untied their aid from trade agreements
BUT aid has been reduced - Value of OECD aid drops for first time in 15 years, and in the UK where the government announced last year that we were reducing our aid contributions to 0.7% of GNI - Was this a good move?
Whilst on the topic of aid given from the UK, we still give aid to India, despite the fact their economic growth is greater than ours and the country themselves say that they do not need money but that other forms of aid would be more appropriate, this short video clip is worth watching - Do you think we should still be given aid to India?

Trade vs Aid
Whilst in theory, aid sounds like a great idea, in reality this has not been the case and trade is arguably a more sustainable alternative, capable of provoking cumulative causation within a country and accelerating development. Trade is more predictable and a safer option, with aid dictated my economic climate of other countries and aid dependency a dangerous occupation. However, some countries do not have the ability to trade (especially worn torn sub-Saharan nations) or do not have desirable raw materials and for long term development this is problematic as aid often only offers a short term solution.

This area of the module is very debatable, I may try and start of focusing on this area in the next live discussion. The only way to form opinions on it is to read about it; but when you have let me know what you think.....

Friday, 6 April 2012

Reasons for low levels of development in sub-Saharan Africa - Is colonialism really to blame???

The capturing of the Moroccan town of Ceuta in 1415, by the Portuguese, marked the beginning of European colonialism in Africa; a movement with the sole purpose of constructing and conserving colonies in one territory by people from another, reaching its peak between 1880 and 1914, a period infamously known as the ‘scramble for Africa’. The main European colonial powers (UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain) were attracted to this continent by its abundance of industrially valuable raw materials and the opportunity to exploit them. Despite independence granted to most sub-Saharan countries in the 1950s and 1960s, the vast majority remain LDCs with prevalent social, political, environmental, economic and demographic issues on a multitude of levels. Many feel that development, which is the process of social and economic advancements which leads to improvements in people’s quality of life and general wellbeing, in sub-Saharan Africa has been greatly hindered by colonialism, thus leaving European colonial powers to blame for low levels of development reflected by projections that at least 23 sub-Saharan nations will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal 4 by 2040. Although at first, it may seem easy to completely lay blame with European colonial powers, other contributory factors are also responsible for the current situation in sub-Saharan Africa.

The ‘scramble for Africa’ saw 1/5 of the globe added to European overseas territories whilst the 1884 Berlin Conference witnessed the superimposition of colonial powers domains on Africa, condensing a previous 10,000 territories into 57. Fragmentation occurred without consideration of psychological or societal divisions and consequently has seen the continent torn apart by civil war, such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives. Societal resonance of the ‘scramble for Africa’ has provoked civil conflict, such as the unresolved Darfur Crisis, therefore colonialism can be blamed in part for the low development levels in these countries with both considered one of the 33 classified as LDCs by the UN. The introduction of religion to African society was a secondary impact of colonialism and whilst not aiding unification of these greatly divided countries thus generating social tensions which heighten the probability of civil conflict, their greatest hindrance has been with regards to disease treatment. Religions such as Catholicism do not recognize or accept the use of contraception, making controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS incredibly challenging, with 68% of people with this disease living in Africa. This is proving to be a huge problem in Botswana where 38% of its population are infected and 1/3 of its working force. Appending demographic issues have been developmentally detrimental, with 10 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone and the wider demographic implications of religions introduction to Africa evident within Uganda’s youthful population; a factor that can be linked back to colonialism which has without a doubt de-accelerated African development. Disease, in general, is a huge social problem in Africa, greatly hindering development and whilst some diseases, such as malaria, are a result of Africa’s climate, the impacts that they have on society and thus development have been accentuated by the colonial legacy as in war torn nations aid is increasingly difficult to deliver to those in need, as currently seen in the Horn of Africa, whilst in countries such as DR Congo which has seen 111,971km of road disintegrate into 1000km following independence, the lack of infrastructure hampers aid distribution.

Civil conflict clearly has economic, social, demographic and environmental implications on a multitude of levels with its roots often lying within the political colonial legacy. Upon authorization of independence, power vacuums capable of overthrowing embryonic democracies fabricated by colonial powers led to the formation of dictatorships, with only 9% of sub-Saharan countries classified as democratic. Whilst democracy has often permitted development Botswana, who gained independence in 1966 and have sustained arguably the most stable democratic political system in Africa, have failed to rank significantly higher on development indicators, thus suggesting the dominating development hindrance lies elsewhere. Dictatorships have hindered the formation of stable and sustainable trade partnerships, thus limited export potential, thereby greatly restricting economic growth and therefore development. Inherent cultural differences, which have not be seen to such a degree elsewhere, are the complicating factor preventing not only peace but also preferential trade which permitted 8% growth for the past 5 years in South America and is possibly the best path for Africa to follow. Whilst the occurrence of civil wars cannot solely be blamed on colonialism, its legacy generated favourable conditions for conflict, making it a reoccurring issue continually hampering development.

Attraction of colonial powers to Africa is perhaps testament to the existence of the ‘Paradox of Plenty’, whereby the abundant raw material reserves easily exploitable and profitable offered by Africa, provoked detrimental European attention, consequential impacts clearly visible in Sierra Leone and along the Gold Coast. Unsustainable mining practices have resulted in environmental degradation, accelerated expansion of the Sahara as a consequence of desertification and wide spread deforestation four times the global average, where it would take 260 years for reforms on par with Amazonian ones to be achieved. Political instability and corruption have escalated this as lack of recognised land ownership (only 2% of African forest is under community control), environmental laws and enforcement have enabled the oil industry, for example, in Nigeria to provoke large-scale environmental degradation, impeding development by exploiting the local people and destroying regularity in food sources. Presence of Lake Nyos and Nyiragongo continually pose a threat to countries whilst natural disasters have wiped out all withstanding development, such as the 2002 lava lake burst which consumed 15% of Goma, leaving 120,000 homeless. Constant threat, such as this, further restricts attractive powers of a country to TNCs, whose presence provokes cumulative causation, thereby accelerating development. 50 droughts over the past 50 years and the Horn of Africa currently experiencing the worst famine in 60 years, demonstrates how climate prevails to dictate development, with it linked to multiple influential factors. A recent study links 1/5 of conflicts since 1950 to climate, with a 6% increase in risk of conflict during an El Nino, with every year fighting has broken out in Sudan coinciding with the commencing of El Nino. Although climatic forcing cannot be solely blamed for conflict it is a contributory factor, with the extensive nature of the impacts that climate has allowing it to dominate with regards to determining development; a dominance overpowering colonialism apparent by equally low development in Ethiopia and Liberia, the two un-colonised countries. Africa is an uninhabitable land with climatic extremes occurring with detrimental frequency and unnerving unpredictability whilst absence of regularity in food, water and energy supplies make it practically impossible to settle in an area and kick start development. Restrictions on agricultural productivity, imposed by climate, are most destructive to sub-Saharan development as both the Demographic Transition Model and Rostow Model of Development (although both arguably out-dated and Eurocentric) indicate increased agricultural productivity is intrinsic to initiating development. Although not directly linked to colonialism, it can be argued that political fragmentation has reduced people’s ability, especially the nomadic tribes such as the Rendille, to adapt and deal with Africa’s naturally variable climate. Consequently, subsistence farming persists and without large-scale farming, accompanied by appropriate mechanization, progress will continually be restricted, unless they are able to establish a contemporary route to development. Global climate change threatens to accentuate already large-scale problematic effects of climate on Africa’s development, with as much as a 6C temperature increase, 15-95cm sea-level rise, drastic precipitation reduction and increase in magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events predicted, partially as a result of anthropogenic forcing from industrialised countries; the persistence of climate’s hindrance upon development making it detrimental to a degree beyond colonialism’s comparative contemporary extent.

Economic progression is intrinsic to development, thus by delaying and prevailing to restrict economic growth via siphoning of resource wealth continued by post-independence trade agreements, colonialism has hindered development. 29 of the 40 HIPCs are sub-Saharan with large debts, originating from ambitious development projects initiated by corrupt leaders following independence, rendering governments incapable of investing in health care and education – essential areas with both capable of diluting demographic constraints and provoking the ‘Girl Effect’. As seen by the 1970s oil crisis, increasing globalisation is amplifying Africa’s vulnerability to market fluctuations, initially generated by economic centralisation during colonialism. Attraction for TNCs is limited, due to the afore-mentioned, consequently casting doubts over whether Africa could be the next recipient of the global shift, making it difficult to reduce economic vulnerability currently preventing substantial progression. In some cases aid has been anti-developmental, with tied aid prompting recipients to spend funds inappropriately, such as the Pergau Dam, whilst 60% is considered ‘phantom’. European countries have since ‘untied’ their aid but 2/3 of American aid is still tied, with most recipients those posing national security threats. Imbalance and inconsistencies are hazardous with dependent countries suffering from aid reductions since the 1970s (50% reduction in 1990) and the export side of economies, arguably the most vulnerable, benefitting the greatest, meaning aid fails to directly address people’s quality of life.

Demographically, the impacts of the slave trade were substantially greater than the number actually enslaved (7-12 million) as the targeting of young men hampered agricultural progression, with social and political instability additional consequences. Clearly, the slave trade contemporarily hindered development, with the argument that it made way for colonialism, but in comparison to the colonial legacy and climate, its influence on modern day development levels is minimal, with similarly adverse bites in population pyramids repercussions of civil conflict and ethnic cleansing, as seen with the Rwandan genocide which claimed the lives of 20% of its population. Population growth, rapidly accelerating across Africa, is the greatest demographic constraint and, again, whilst not directly linked to colonialism, introduction of European lifestyles, principally religion, has only increased growth rate which is expected to exceed Asia’s over coming decades.

European colonialism has detrimentally hindered sub-Saharan development, leaving the political map of Africa a permanent liability resulting from the insatiable hunger of colonial powers for raw materials, thus constitutes a reason to lay some blame with Europe for current low levels of sub-Saharan development. Other factors, such as disease prevalence, environmental degradation, corruption, conflict, issues with aid and global market fluctuations have drastically slowed development and, in extreme cases, halted it all together for a period of time. Whilst many of these contributory factors can be linked to colonialism, thus increasing its influence on development, the impacts are likely to only have short-term affects, compared to those of climate, and with international guidance, investment and support along with appropriate technology, stimulating the economic growth required to accelerate the development so long anticipated in Africa is possible. Therefore, it is large-scale natural events such as failed monsoons, floods, droughts, significant natural disasters, sea level rise and global climate change that have played the most dominant role in dictating African development and continue to do so. Unfortunately, these climatic limitations are not evenly distributed around the globe and are likely to increase in severity and magnitude in the future; being concentrated in the areas lacking in the levels of development which enable countries to adapt and mitigate the impacts of natural variability and extremes. So intricately linked are factors affecting development that they formulated a lethal combination which presents on-going challenges to the resolution of Africa’s development issue; absence of peace, due to inherent cultural differences on a level not previously observed, and Africa’s unique environment, continually plagued by variability and extremes, are the greatest complicating obstacles preventing development. Whilst we cannot attempt to fully understand issues facing African development, perhaps combining knowledge acquired from European colonialism, a movement although unsustainable and exploitative saw some advancements, with our understanding of the process of development elsewhere and greater African independence, collectively a solution to their problems could be conceived; allowing sub-Saharan nations to arguably gain from colonialism for the first time.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Blogging Updates!!!

Hello everyone! I have had countless requests about writing blogs in my other subjects and I also need to find a new method for revising in some of my other subjects, therefore, I have decided to start writing them in my other subjects....

What I learnt in History this week.....

What I learnt in Biology this week.....

What I learnt in Chemistry this week.....

Now, these blogs will not be as detailed, or as frequently updated as my Geography blog as trying to run one is time consuming enough - let alone four! It may take me a while to get the going as well as I am not 100% sure how well they will work in my other subjects! Also they will be used as revision blogs, where I will post mainly revision notes, not any interesting research I do beyond the syallbus or necessarily a lesson by lesson post on what I learn. At present, they are not going to be supported by teacher blogs either but, for those of you interested, they may still be of some use.
Essentially though I am hoping they can be used in the same way as this one, and hopefully be as beneficially to fellow students, so as usual, if you want me to write about anything just let me know!

Also, I quick word about my Geography blog...... I am going to try and reduce the scientific content and keep it to a level required to pass the exam. This means that until the summer exams are over, no more of my own research will appear and I will be talking a lot more about humans. This is going to be hard work for me (so bare with me - I am not quite sure how well this one will go!) but I have been given a few polite reminders now that Geography is all about the interactions between people and the environment and so whilst I may find the physical side far more interesting, unless I can relate it back to how it impacts on peoples lives, then I will not pass the summer exam -  and I think it is about time I start listening to my teachers! So sorry to those of you who enjoy reading about the random stuff I write about but for the next 3 months it will have to disappear (don't worry though I have the entire summer holidays to research all the interesting stuff that the exam board are not nice enough to let us learn about - in their defence I suppose it would be bad if we enjoyed A-levels too much!!!). Most people are probably revising already so let me know what you feel would benefit you the most if I wrote about it. Case studies will definetly be appearing before many of you ask!!! I am currently trying to think of some different, more interesting ways, to revise Geography before I write a post on revision like last year - there are some good books and films out there which would be worth reading/watching; reviews are on the way!

After half term, Millie is starting up weekly online workshops on all the different topics, but in the meantime, after popular request, I am going to and use the method to run online discussions on different topics - especially the human geography topics - as discussion is a great and more interactive way to learn and, as we get frequently reminded, for the exam we need to be able to formulate our own opinions (something that takes me a while!). Join in as and when you can, hopefully they will remain educational throughout! The first one starts tonight at 19:30!

Just incase you are interested, I am retaking Unit 4B (topic doesn't look that bad - anything climate related will grab my attention!!!) so information on that, although less researched based stuff, will appear as and when and if these live discussions work out well, I may try and organise a 4B one over the next few weeks.....
I hope the revision is going well - I think the hardest bit is getting started!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Development Discussion

Hello everyone! Right, I am about to try something different, so you will have to bare with me...... after Millie suggested in our last lesson before half term that revising in groups is the best way to do it, I have had numerous questions to do so. Therefore, I thought, why not do them online so, after some consultation with fellow students I have decide to try and run live discussions like Millie does. The idea is that we can discuss things, ask each other questions, share resources and revise together online and it is just easier to host it through my blog. Hopefully, they will prove beneifcal to everyone involved and become a regular thing.

So, the first one is scheduled for this Thursday (05/04/2012) at 19:30. If you are around join in, and spread the word to all other geographers. First topic for discussion is development and globalisation - I have a few discussion starting points in mind, but think of some questions to ask etc and I will see you there......

Development revision - the basics

Hello everyone - this is the first, of many to come, revision posts over the next few weeks, so enjoy!
Development Mindmap
Development Continuum
The development continuum is the contemporary way of viewing development; percieving it as a contiual process and recognising that it can occur in a number of different ways, not necessarily in the way the UK did, as outlined by the Rostow Model of Development. Ranking countries using HDI, a composite indicator, essentially the development continuum is a sliding scale from most to least developed with lots of intermediates such as RICs and NICs; meaning it illustrates the complexities that the Brandt Line fails to display. Therefore it also indicates the importance of the changing roles of countries such as the Asian Tigers, orginally LDCs who attracted TNCs and consequential cumulative causation accelerated development. Now they are mature NICs and their role in the global economy has changed and will change again as they continue to develop and the global shift moves. This idea has replaced older classification (like first, second, third world and MEDC/LEDC) as the use of LEDC and MEDC as discrete groups implied that all countries within that group are of the same development level, which is not the case, and subsequently the development continuum is more reflective of reality.

Gross National Product (GNP) = total value of goods and services for a country's companies at home and abroad
Gross National Income (GNI) = GDP plus or minus the interest and repayments on debt
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) = measure of the value of the local currency
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) = total value of goods and services within a country (including foreign companies)
Issues with using GDP as a measure of development:
- Inequalities = in many LDCs wealth remains with a few and does not filter down through population
- Informal employment = in LDCs many work in informal employment, such as street vending, so money is exchaged without record
- Subsistence lifestyles = many farmers lead a subsistence lifestyle, so it is impossible to accurately measure income and population

Composite indicators vs Single Indicators
Development is the process of social and economic advancements that leads to improvements in peoples quality of life and general wellbeing, as such when trying to measure it, it is important to not only consider the economic indicators. This realisation, was one of the main driving forces behind moving away from first, second, third world classification and the Brandt Line, to the development continuum. HDI, for example, takes into account GDP using PPP, life expectancy at birth and educational attainment, thus considers several aspects of development. Therefore just because a country is rich, i.e Qatar which has a really high GDP, does not mean it scores highly on HDI, and vice versa as seen with Kerala which has a low GDP but would rank high on HDI. However, there is clearly often a positive correlation between GDP and HDI as countries with a high HDI can distribute funds to health care and education, subsequently raising life expectancy and educational attainment. Despite this, composite indicators make global comparisions a lot easier but some composites, like HPI, are subjective, meaning that it is a less accurate measure of development than solely using GDP. There are some advantages of using single indicators as they do not shroud individual measures and so, with regards to pinpointing what social and economic improvements are required for a country to develop, should also be taken into consideration when determining level of development.

Rostow Model of Development

Produced in 1960, this model can be used as a rough guide to development and, in conjunction with the Demographic Transition Model can be used to formulate population policies. Transitions between both models are very similar, illustrating the intrinsic link between population and development. Rostow suggeseted that all countries could break the viscious cycle of poverty and develop between this 5 stages. However, it is very eurocentric and underestimates the role of colonialism in early development of the 15 countries it is based on.