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!