One of the terms my biogeography students learn is "extirpated," which means a species has gone extinct in part of its former range. India is undertaking a project to reverse extirpation: cheetahs are being reintroduced to Kuno National Park in north-central India. Cheetahs were extirpated from India more than 50 years ago. The cheetahs being reintroduced to India are African cheetahs; today, all that remains of the Asiatic cheetah that once roamed from India to the Arabian Peninsula is 12 individuals, 9 males and 3 females, in Iran. www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-62377387
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year high-tide or "sunny day" flooding -- when water floods streets and bubbles up through storm drains without storm activity -- on the East Coast of the U.S. is expected to show an increase of more than 150% since 2000. NOAA's calculations are based on data from a network of water-level stations along the U.S. coasts and Great Lakes. This interactive mapping site shows past, present, and anticipated 2050 sunny day flooding levels. (In Washington, DC, for example, the average number of high-tide flooding events in 2000 was three; in 2021, it was five, and by 2050, it is forecast to be 55-85.) tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/HighTideFlooding_AnnualOutlook.html
Following on its work with mouse stem cells, an Israeli biotech company is planning to start work creating embryos from human stem cells. Created without egg or sperm, the embryos are incubated in artificial wombs. The vision of the company is to use these "organized embryo entities" for possible organ and tissue transplant. Scientists can already use stem cells to create some tissues in vitro, but an embryo can make more complex organs, organs that would be resistant to rejection because they would be genetically identical to the intended recipient. Interesting science aside, this project creates a host of philosophical issues, from "what is a human?" and "what is life?" to "what are individuals allowed to do with their own cells?" and "are organs a crop that can be grown and harvested like any other?" www.technologyreview.com/2022/08/04/1056633/startup-wants-copy-you-embryo-organ-harvesting/
This geo-graphic compares per capita spending on pharmaceuticals in the U.S. to that in a sampling of peer-group (OECD) countries: www.statista.com/chart/3967/which-countries-pay-the-most-for-medicinal-drugs
This website assembled by a young programmer offers a curated list of resources (many free) to help young would-be programmers learn about computer languages, coding, and computer science: lihackhers.com/programing-resources/
This series of maps details recent Chinese military exercises in the area around Taiwan and Japan's southernmost islands: www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/world/asia/taiwan-china-maps.html
If you are tracking U.S. wildfires this season, ArcGIS is providing a free real-time look at U.S. wildfire activity based on open-source data, including thermal satellite imaging: www.arcgis.com/apps/mapviewer/index.html?webmap=df8bcc10430f48878b01c96e907a1fc3#!
Classical philosophy is generally focused on providing tips on how we are to live our best life. Contemporary philosopher Avram Alpert instead argues that the unrelenting social obsession with "the best" is poison, preventing us from living a good life as individuals and preventing us from acknowledging the contribution of all of the people who toil in obscurity, including those who make society's superstars possible. Alpert argues that the real secret to a good life -- for individuals and for society as a whole -- is figuring out how to value a good-enough life. www.amazon.com/Good-Enough-Life-Avram-Alpert/dp/0691204357
For those interested in learning about what's going on in Ukraine that might not make the news in the U.S. or for those interested in supporting a free press in Ukraine, the English-language Kyiv Independent operates a website and a free daily e-newsletter: kyivindependent.com/ At the top of the website are GoFundMe options to allow visitors to support the Independent or a broader group of Ukrainian media organizations.
The ocean's fish are on the move in response to climate change. What happens when "your" fish move to someone else's territorial waters? This article from The Independent (UK) looks at new research about fish movement and the impact these movements may have on international fishing agreements. www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/fish-stocks-climate-crisis-disputes-b1996157.html
Plants, animals, and microbes move around based on changes in the physical environment and human activity. This shifting geography was documented recently by the appearance in southern Mississippi of a dangerous microbe previously found only in tropical and subtropical zones, including northern Australia, parts of Central and South America, and South and Southeast Asia: www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/health/deadly-bacteria-us-soil-water.html
The final Jurassic Park movie may have been disappointing, but venture capital money continues to pour into scientific ventures related to de-extinction and other use of genetic material from extinct creatures. This recording of a webinar sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences provides an excellent look at the complex scientific and philosophical issues surrounding de-extinction: scienceandentertainmentexchange.org/blog/back-from-the-dead-the-difficulties-and-dilemmas-of-de-extinction/
Liquifying natural gas is a more expensive, energy-intense alternative to pipelines in the delivery of natural gas. Several European countries are trying to bring more liquified natural gas (LNG) capacity online as quickly as possible to replace Russian, pipeline-delivered gas. This geo-graphic from Statista looks at which countries are currently the biggest suppliers of LNG: www.statista.com/chart/27839/biggest-liquefied-natural-gas-exporters
If you're looking for a bit of summer learning fun, Google Earth's Carmen Sandiego game takes students around the world, using clues to solve a crime while seeing some of the world's most iconic landforms and structures in 3D:
Europe's record-shattering heat has been in the news, but "Qatar is heating faster than almost anywhere else on the planet, the consequence of being a peninsula surrounded by overheating seas in one of the hottest corners of the world." This article from Geographical (UK) looks at what climate change means for Qatar and how the country is responding: geographical.co.uk/climate-change/climate-and-qatar?
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released data showing the impact of the first year of the COVID pandemic on arts employment, by state: www.bea.gov/system/files/inline-images/acpsa0322d.png
Because inexpensive armed drones, including Turkey's TB2 drones, proved decisive in the 2020 conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, other countries have been looking to add them to their arsenals. This map, from ProPublica, shows which countries have used TB2s, purchased TB2s, or are trying to purchase TB2s: assets-c3.propublica.org/images/articles/Screen-Shot-2022-07-15-at-5.48.51-PM.png
A viral hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola -- Marburg virus -- has recently been confirmed in Ghana for the first time, in the southern Ashanti region highlighted on this map. Unlike Ebola, Marburg has no vaccine. The Ashanti region is home to Ghana's second largest city, Kumasi. ghananursing2014.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/ashanti-region.jpg
This article from The Wall Street Journal considers what happens when climate change meets the bond market, which in the U.S. alone currently amounts to $4 trillion in municipal bonds plus another $12 trillion in mortgage-backed bonds.
"For centuries, bond investing has boiled down to forecasting two things: which way interest rates are going to move and how likely a borrower is to repay its debts. A handful of startups are betting that to predict repayments in the future, bond analysts will need better data on something they’ve long overlooked—climate risk. The new firms are competing to design algorithms that can predict the likelihood of natural disasters hitting specific towns, industrial parks, even individual buildings, and how much damage they could do. That could become more relevant if wildfires, floods, storms and drought strike more frequently and with greater severity, creating potential new losses for holders of municipal, corporate and mortgage-backed debt. ... 'Eventually this chicken is going to come home to roost,' says the firm’s [risQ's] 34-year-old Chief Executive Evan Kodra.... Paradise, Calif., which was ravaged by the 2018 Camp Fire, disclosed in a March regulatory filing that one of its agencies may default on a $4.8 million bond next year. The town received $219 million from a settlement in 2020 but said it plans to use those funds to rebuild infrastructure instead. ... Over and over, risQ’s model showed that bond markets weren’t discriminating between municipalities with very different climate risk. A school district near California’s wine country has five times the wildfire property-damage risk of a school district a few hours north of Sacramento, for example, but their bonds trade at identical yields, according to risQ research."
According to a new report from the United Nations, global population is projected to hit 8 billion on November 15 of this year, India is expected to surpass China as the world's most populous country in 2023, and more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 will be concentrated in just 8 countries (alphabetically): the DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania. For all the details, you can download the report here: www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/wpp2022_summary_of_results.pdf
I was cleaning out some old papers in my office and came across this rather stunning map I had saved from 2014 showing that, as of 2013, median household income in the U.S. had peaked at least 15 years earlier in 81 percent of U.S. counties. The interactive map at The Washington Post website allows users to mouse over counties for specific data: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-stat/graphics/business/income/index.html
Can art be made by a robot? Can copies, be they restorations or simply "extras," be afforded the same status as the original? These are some of the philosophical questions posed by an effort underway at the University of Oxford to use robotic machining to recreate ancient sculptures: www.nytimes.com/2022/07/08/science/elgin-marbles-3d-print.html
It was announced earlier this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a request from the Irish-headquartered pharmaceutical company Perrigo to sell its over-the-counter birth control pills in the U.S. This map from Statista compares country-by-country policies on the regulation of birth control pills: cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/27764.jpeg
How much more are you, personally, willing to pay in higher food prices to tackle climate change? That is the essence of the question farmers, governments, and agribusiness are wrangling with in trying to figure out who should bear the costs of changes to farming practices that might rein in greenhouse gas emissions. www.nytimes.com/2022/07/09/business/farmers-climate-change.html
Oceans cover nearly three-fourths of our planet's surface, but what goes on under the water is usually out of sight and, often, out of mind. This article brings to the surface changes in the biogeography of the waters off Maine: divemagazine.com/scuba-diving-long-reads/i-dived-the-gulf-of-maine-and-saw-one-fish
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