Farmers in the Southwestern U.S. are ripping out orchards, switching to less water-intensive crops, and renting out their land to try to save water and raise money in the face of an extended drought. This map compares vegetation stress in August 2022 with the average August vegetation stress from 1984 to 2020: green is more healthy, red is more stressed. (Map from www.wsj.com/articles/drought-in-u-s-west-leads-farmers-to-look-elsewhere-for-revenue-11664535602.)
Art generated by artificial intelligence is all the rage. But art-generating AI is trained up on images scraped from the internet, usually without permission or attribution. This article from MIT Technology Review looks at the problems AI-generated art is posing for actual artists: www.technologyreview.com/2022/09/16/1059598/this-artist-is-dominating-ai-generated-art-and-hes-not-happy-about-it
Interested in introducing your kids to live classical music for free? The Washington Bach Consort is continuing to perform J.S. Bach's cantatas, for free, on the first Tuesday of every month, at noon, at the Church of the Epiphany near Metro Center in downtown DC (as well as on Capital Hill, at St. Mark's, the prior day). For more information, see bachconsort.org/noontime-cantatas/.
The second major named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season has just made its way across Cuba and Florida. This map, based on the INFORM Risk Index, looks at the risk of hurricane-related humanitarian crises in Latin America and the Caribbean: cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/28317.jpeg
Geography journalist Tim Marshall takes a look at the emerging naval rivalry between India and China in this article from Geographical (UK): geographical.co.uk/geopolitics/indias-ocean-rivalry-with-china?
Partitioned from the rest of the island when Ireland (the country) was granted independence in 1921, Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, is the historically Protestant-majority northeastern section of Ireland (the island). However, a recent census shows that Catholics now outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time. www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/world/europe/northern-ireland-census-catholics-protestants.html
Banned Books Week just concluded. This map from Quartz looks at book bans by state: i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/f243d7078b90019860ee2c5356763ac3.jpg
Humans have a notoriously bad track record of trying to intervene "helpfully" in natural environments. Yet today, natural environments need more help than ever before *and* humans have more tools at their disposal to intervene than ever before, from CRISPR gene edits, to sophisticated reproductive technologies, to species relocations. What could go wrong? This article considers some of the ethical questions at the frontier of conservation biology: www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/opinion/conservation-ethics.html
Western Europe is one of the world's most rapidly aging regions. This geo-graphic looks at the anticipated increase in dementia rates by 2050 in a sampling of Western European countries: cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/28310.jpeg
You can help scientists track butterfly and moth populations worldwide by participating in the Global Butterflies Census. All you need is a camera and WhatsApp. Take a picture of a butterfly and WhatsApp it to Friend of the Earth along with your coordinates. It's an easy bit of citizen science for all ages and all locations. For more information, see friendoftheearth.org/friend-of-the-earth-launches-first-global-census/
Using data from a recent study published in Nature, this map from VisualCapitalist shows country-by-country population vulnerability to 1-in-100-year coastal and inland flooding events: www.visualcapitalist.com/countries-highest-flood-risk/
According to a recent survey, 43% of Americans polled, including more than half of Republicans polled, believe a civil war is likely in the United States within the next 10 years. www.statista.com/chart/28200/is-a-us-civil-war-likely/
Food reflects the intersection of physical geography and cultural geography. This article looks at breakfast around the world: www.cnn.com/travel/article/breakfast-food-around-the-world/index.html
Persistent drought has exacerbated wildfire damage in the American Southwest, but more housing continues to be built in areas vulnerable to wildfires. The maps in this article from The New York Times compare housing developments in 1990 and 2020 in the areas around Sacramento, CA, Denver, CO, and San Antonio/Austin, TX. www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/09/09/climate/growing-wildfire-risk-homes.html
Most countries around the world received an invitation for their head of state plus one guest to attend Monday's funeral of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. There were 9 exceptions: the countries shown in black on this map were not invited at all (Russia, Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela); for the countries shown in purple (Iran, Nicaragua, and North Korea) the invitation went to the country's ambassador to the UK instead of the head of state.
For those with 4th graders this year, this is a reminder about the National Park Service's Every Kid Outdoors program that gives 4th graders and their immediate family free entrance throughout the national park system this year. For details, see www.everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm.
Ukraine has had astonishing success on the battlefield recently. Not surprisingly, this is not playing well back in Russia. This article from Foreign Policy looks at how the war in Ukraine is energizing the Russian far-right opposition and the long-term consequences this may have for internal Russian politics: "A new Russian protest movement is coalescing, but it’s neither pro-democracy nor anti-war. Instead, it’s the most extreme of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supporters, who have grown increasingly furious at the unfolding military disaster for Russia in the six-month-long war in Ukraine. ... Their push to escalate the war, including widespread demands to use nuclear weapons, is dangerous in itself. But by creating a fantasy world in which a supposedly all-powerful Russian army is being defeated by domestic enemies—instead of by superior Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their own land with modern tactics and Western weapons—the movement has potentially disturbing implications for a postwar and possibly post-Putin Russia. In fact, the narrative sounds a lot like the Dolchstosslegende, the German “stab-in-the-back” conspiracy theory that blamed the country’s defeat in World War I on nefarious enemies at home, including Jews. This narrative of military defeat became an integral part of the propaganda that brought the Nazis to power. ... The level of hatred and derision toward everything Ukrainian in their blog posts is difficult to convey. Ukrainians are described as illegal squatters on Russian imperial lands or followers of the Nazi bandits supposedly governing in Kyiv. Their cities must be “hammered into the Stone Age” while massacres against civilians are gleefully referred to as “pig-butchering.” ... Whether or not the Kremlin now cracks down, the pro-war movement’s toxic narrative will take on a life of its own—especially if and when Russia loses the war, which is now all but inevitable. As the disconnect between official propaganda about an easy, successful “special operation” and the reality of crushing defeat becomes clear, many Russians will be looking for someone to blame." foreignpolicy.com/2022/09/12/russia-ukraine-war-defeat-opposition-putin-stab-in-the-back-conspiracy-theory-far-right
If you could find out in advance that you were likely to develop a disease for which there is no cure, would you want to know? If this were a commercially available product, how should the information be contextualized for end users who may have little or no scientific background to interpret the results? Who is to blame if the technology gets the diagnosis wrong? These are just some of the questions emerging from advances in genetics and, more recently, artificial intelligence in identifying disease earlier than ever before.
In the case recently in the news, researchers have developed an AI-powered device that has a 90% accuracy rate in identifying Parkinson's disease based on listening to how a patient breathes while sleeping. Accuracy increased to 95% by analyzing breathing patterns for 12 nights. Early treatment is critical for preventing damage to the brain yet, at present, there are no blood tests or other reliable diagnostics to detect early Parkinson's. www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/09/02/parkinsons-disease-ai-diagnosis/
Applications are now open for high school students interested in Stanford's high-octane study programs on Japan, Korea, and China. You can learn more at spice.fsi.stanford.edu/fellowship/reischauer-scholars-program (Japan), spice.fsi.stanford.edu/fellowship/sejong-korea-scholars-program (Korea), and spice.fsi.stanford.edu/fellowship/china-scholars-program (China). Applications close Oct. 31.
Africa, which produces about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is expected to be hard hit by climate change. This map, from Statista, shows country-by-country assessments of Africa's anticipated resilience to climate change, based on a combination of forecasts vis-a-vis climate impact, local livelihoods, and governmental capacity to respond. www.statista.com/chart/28136/index-scores-for-climate-resilience-of-african-countries/
An estimated 70,000 people (out of a population of 10.7 million) took to the streets of Prague last weekend to protest energy prices. The protest was organized by an assortment of right-wing and left-wing parties; signs and speakers at the protest in Wenceslas Square opposed Czechia's participation in NATO and in the European Union and resettlement of Ukrainian refugees. To date, the Czech government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala has been among the most active voices supporting the EU's opposition to Russia's war in Ukraine, but Russia is/was Czechia's main energy supplier, accounting for 98% of its natural gas supplies and about half its oil. Russia's decision to shut down fuel exports to the EU is clearly being done with exactly this sort of scenario in mind. Italy's ruling coalition was arguably the first EU/NATO government to fall due to surging energy prices. Could Saturday's large protest in Prague be a sign that Czechia's might be next? www.reuters.com/world/europe/tens-thousands-protest-prague-against-czech-government-eu-nato-2022-09-03
This map looks at the geography of Chicago shootings in which a parent was killed. (Map from www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/interactive/2022/kids-witness-parents-shot-killed/.)
The first half of this article looks at the work of 17th century Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob (also transliterated Zära Yaqob), whose work is largely unknown in English even though Yacob's work preceded, paralleled, and even went beyond that of more famous European Enlightenment-era thinkers. aeon.co/essays/yacob-and-amo-africas-precursors-to-locke-hume-and-kant
The Chinese government has become one of the world's biggest lenders, especially to countries in the developing world and those associated with its Belt and Road Initiative. This map, from Statista based on World Bank data, shows which countries are most indebted to China: www.statista.com/chart/19642/external-loan-debt-to-china-by-country/
Americans often confuse the terms "monsoon" and "typhoon." A monsoon is an annual rainy season; it is usually critical for life in the region. A typhoon is a wind storm, like a hurricane, in the Pacific Ocean. The extreme flooding in the news in Pakistan is being caused by monsoon rains. Agriculture would be all but impossible in Pakistan without monsoon rains, but, unfortunately, this year's arrived earlier than normal and are falling more heavily than normal. As of the last official U.N. count, nearly half a million homes in Pakistan have been damaged by the recent flooding and more than 1,000 people have died. This map, from the U.N., shows the damage is concentrated along the lower reaches of the Indus River. By the way, despite was you might read elsewhere, Pakistan cannot experience a typhoon: hurricane-like wind storms in the Indian Ocean are cyclones. (Map from reliefweb.int/report/pakistan/pakistan-2022-monsoon-floods-situation-report-no-03-26-august-2022.)
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