The Institute for Economics and Peace has released its 2016 Global Terrorism Index. Terrorism claimed 10% fewer lives in 2015 than 2014 but was still the second-deadliest year in history, cost the global economy roughly $90 billion, and spread to new countries. For the interactive map and report, see www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/terrorism-index
Hillary Clinton may not have won the electoral college vote, but she won the economy: the <500 counties that Clinton won earlier this month accounted for 64% of U.S. GDP last year, compared to the 2,600+ counties that Donald Trump won that together combined for 36% of U.S. GDP. The analysis, from the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, points to growing economic and political divides between those U.S. cities with modern economies and smaller cities and rural areas without.
Moral philosophy's famous "trolley problem" is now being plumbed by engineers designing driverless cars: in case of brake failure or an inevitable collision, for instance, should the driverless car swerve in the direction of a car with a single occupant or a car with four occupants?
This simulation from MIT'S Media Lab allows you to participate in the decision making (and see how your judgment calls compare with those of other people): http://moralmachine.mit.edu/
This map shows which spots in the world have the best, and poorest, potential for generating solar energy. http://britishbusinessenergy.co.uk/world-solar-map/
The National Geographic Society's Explorer Classroom allows students around the world to join scientists, photographers, and other explorers in the field via live video conference to learn about their work. nationalgeographic.org/education/programs/explorer-classroom/ Upcoming Explorer Classroom opportunities:
Nov. 28: Gemina Garland-Lewis, researching ocean microplastics off Mexico
Nov. 29: Ami Vitale, environmental photojournalist
Dec. 6: Brian Skerry, ocean photojournalist
Dec. 7: Kenny Broad and Jill Heinerth, cave divers
Happy Thanksgiving! This interactive graphic shows the water footprint of key crops provided for the U.S. market, including perhaps some items on your menu today. environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/global-water-footprint/
The New York Times looks at Donald Trump's presumed position on a variety of issues before the United Nations, from climate change and the Iran nuclear deal to refugees and arms treaties. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/world/americas/united-nations-trump-climate-change-iran-cuba.html
This article in the science journal Nature considers where to put the next billion people likely to share the planet by the year 2030. www.nature.com/news/where-to-put-the-next-billion-people-1.20669 "To see which areas of the world have physical conditions that could theoretically accommodate an extra billion people sustainably, we ... ruled out regions with extreme or high water stress; other arid areas; tundra and ice; centres with species unique to a region; and regions with population densities that exceed 100 people per square kilometre, namely much of Europe, the Middle East, India and China and the western United States." The map below shows areas suitable for further development.
Despite long involvement in the Middle East, Americans tend to have a weak understanding of the region's complex interplay of languages and ethnicities. This map shows the language geography of Iran. (The unlabeled white areas are Iran's major deserts.) Only slightly more than half of Iranians speak Persian, the official language.
The new Amy Adams movie Arrival hinges on learning to communicate with aliens. The philosophy of language suggests that, beyond the technological and biological difficulties, dissimilar cultural contexts and unlike minds make meaningful discussions with aliens unlikely. As this article from Philosophy Now points out, "Despite co-evolution side-by-side on the same planet over billions of years, humans have never had a meaningful conversation with any other species." https://philosophynow.org/issues/116/Will_We_Ever_Philosophise_With_ET
This series of four maps provides a thought-provoking look at different ways the earth's population can be divided into four equal quarters. www.stevefaeembra.com/blog/2016/7/30/quarters-of-the-earths-population
Performances of the special holiday show "Seasons of Light" begin at the Smithsonian's Discovery Theater in less than two weeks! Theater-goers have the opportunity to see how light is woven through many cultures' holiday traditions, including Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali, Ramadan, Las Posadas, Santa Lucia, Kwanzaa, and the Native American winter solstice. "Seasons of Light" is recommended for children ages 5-10 and runs through mid-December. discoverytheater.org/shows/2016/dec/seasons-of-light.shtm
What qualifies as the top 1% by income varies enormously within the U.S., sometimes in unexpected ways. This map shows the average income of the top 1%, by county. howmuch.net/articles/average-income-of-top-1-per-cent
If you follow international news, especially but not exclusively about the Middle East, you may enjoy the *satirical* news site The Mideast Beast. It's sort of like The Onion of world affairs. (Note: due to language, it may be amusing but not suitable for children.) http://www.themideastbeast.com/
Tired of hearing about El Niño, the aberrant global weather patterns signaled by unusually warm waters off Peru? Then you'll be glad to see that this map shows we have officially switched over to La Niña, the aberrant global weather patterns signaled by unusually cold waters in the equatorial Pacific. (If you were hoping for normal weather, you'll have to wait.) https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/say-hola-la-nina
Watch our planet breathe! NASA has developed a new high-resolution mapping model that shows how CO2 travels through our atmosphere over the course of a year. Be sure to watch the entire year as the impact of trees leafing out in the Northern Hemisphere beginning in late May is really quite stunning. www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1SgmFa0r04
"Is the pen mightier than the sword?" That's the topic for this year's Kids Philosophy Slam. Kindergartners to high schoolers, are encouraged to submit their thoughts on the topic. Length requirements vary with the age category, but all entries are due by March 10, 2017. For details, see http://www.philosophyslam.org/participate_fin.html.
Drought conditions now affect more than a quarter of the continental U.S. and nearly 130 million people, including severe droughts in the Southeast and California and a worsening drought in New England. https://www.drought.gov/drought/
On Tuesday (11/15) the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum is launching its one-day-only "Geography from Space" contest. Participants can log in (beginning at 7:00 am EST) to play the game, which involves identifying geographic landmarks based on satellite images and written clues. The first three people (U.S. residents 13 or older) to submit correct answers win a Smithsonian book, but *anyone* can play and the site includes all of previous years' "Geography from Space" games: airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/geography-from-space/
Climate plays a critical role in shaping human geography. To understand how local climates are changing, some scientists are examining cultural records. In Japan, for example, Shinto priests have been recording the dates of the freezing and thawing of Lake Suwa for 700 years. These data document that "[i]n the first 250 years that Shinto priests recorded the appearance of the ice ridge on Lake Suwa, for instance, there were only three years during which the lake did not freeze. Between 1955 and 2004, there were 12 freeze-free years on Lake Suza; between 2005 and 2014, there were five." news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/ice-lake-suwa-japan-torne-river-climate-change-monk-shinto/
This map shows the countries that have or have had a female leader (light pink=acting or interim leader who served less than a year). For the details about who, when, and where, see http://www.jjmccullough.com/charts_rest_female-leaders.php
The rest of the world has been watching the U.S. election very closely. (Iran even broadcast all three U.S. Presidential debates live on state TV on the theory that allowing Iranians to see the debates would do more to discredit America than their own propaganda could.) To better understand the nexus between America and the world, Foreign Policy is making access to all of its content entirely free today and tomorrow only. http://foreignpolicy.com/
A record number of Americans have already voted in tomorrow's election. Only the states in grey do not allow early voting and/or absentee voting. http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Images/early-voting-map.jpg
The current issue of Philosophy Now speaks to the interrelated issues of identity and xenophobia:
"Who are you, and who am I? ...[Y]ou have probably come across such questions many times. We ask them in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, epistemology, as well as the philosophy of psychology and related areas. However, nowhere does the problem of the supposed identity of self and other wreak havoc as it does in the area of human relationships – moral, social and political. When we think about who we are, we also think about who we are not; we define ourselves off against an ‘other’."
To read the rest of the article, which contains some pithy quotes on prejudice, see https://philosophynow.org/issues/115/Thinkers_Against_Xenophobia_How_To_Deal_with_Pride_and_Prejudice
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