This interactive site, courtesy of a UK university, maps food security deaths by year: chaosmap.gitlab.io/2017
Test your knowledge of world geography with this 20-question sudden-death quiz: ID the countries shown, but one wrong answer and you're out. Can you get all 20?
Thanksgiving is a major travel holiday in the U.S. As this geo-graphic shows, though, Thanksgiving pales in comparison to the Chinese lunar new year holiday and the Hindu festival of Prayag Kumbh Mela. infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_16906_holiday_travel_events_n.jpg
The United Nations Environment Program has estimated that a new zoonotic disease (a disease that can jump from animals to humans) is discovered every four months. Following the 2005 bird flu scare, the U.S. created the Predict program to identify new zoonotic diseases and prevent the next pandemic. Over the last 10 years, Predict has "collected over 140,000 biological samples from animals and found over 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola. Predict also trained about 5,000 people in 30 African and Asian countries, and has built or strengthened 60 medical research laboratories, mostly in poor countries." The program is now being shut down, to the consternation of many public health officials. www.nytimes.com/2019/10/25/health/predict-usaid-viruses.html
An analysis of more than 37,000 media articles -- from 85 news sources, representing 45 countries on every inhabited continent and the full range of political ideologies -- reveals that the most predictive factor in media coverage of climate change is a country's per capita GDP. "In general, richer countries framed the issue as a domestic, political one, while poorer countries framed it as an international issue that the world at large needs to tackle." geographical.co.uk/nature/climate/item/3432-rich-and-poor-countries-cover-the-climate-crisis-very-differently
These six states produce roughly 2/3 of all turkeys raised in the United States, with Minnesota and North Carolina raising the most turkeys.
[This is the second in my two-part look at philosophical implications of genetic testing. I posted Part One last Sunday.]
Philosophers have long enjoyed pondering questions of identity. The Ship of Theseus paradox is one famous example. Advances in genetics have shifted the debate and made it more salient: is one's identity defined by who one believes oneself to be or is one's identity defined by who one is biologically? Personal DNA test services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have generated many identity surprises. Sisters who are not sisters. Fervent Irish Americans whose DNA says Jewish, not Irish. Family lore claims Native American forebears, but the DNA says no. Which defines our identity? Who we believe we are and the lives we have lived shaped by those beliefs? Or who our DNA says we are? Something to ponder as we sit down to Thanksgiving this year. Here is a recent article from The Wall Street Journal on this issue: www.wsj.com/articles/a-white-woman-searches-for-her-black-family-11572625171
Donkey hides are used in a traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao. Demand for ejiao is leading to donkey-napping (stealing a farmer's donkey and selling the donkey or its hide) in countries like Kenya and the decimation of donkey populations, with roughly 4.8 million donkeys per year being used in ejiao production. A recent report released by a donkey conservation group estimates that half the world's donkey population will be gone within 5 years at this rate. This geo-graphic looks at countries that have already experienced significant declines in donkey population: www.statista.com/chart/20049/change-in-donkey-population-in-selected-countries/
This short video is an update of sorts to the classic Powers of Ten: "Brazil-based graphic designer Pedro Machado’s visualisation ... draws on 40 years of quantum research – not to mention significant advances in 3D rendering technology – to drill down to the unfathomably small scale of 10^-33 metres, brushing up against the limits of human knowledge and imagination. The mindbending animation uses a framework of quantum gravity in which a gravitational field exists at these smallest conceivable scales." aeon.co/videos/a-quantum-odyssey-from-the-tip-of-a-pen-to-the-dark-side-of-human-knowledge
With Ukraine in the news regularly, it seemed appropriate to understand something about the human geography of Ukraine.
For those interested in expanding their understanding of Israel and Palestine, a handful of tour operators are taking tourists beyond Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to harvest olives in a Palestinian village, share a Shabbat meal in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank, meet artists in Ramallah, view the Gaza Strip from Israel, and otherwise meet the people living in the region and see the Israeli-Palestinian issue up close for themselves. "Aziz Abu Sara, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem who founded Mejdi Tours 10 years ago, told Al-Monitor ... 'Tourists want to see more than just the required sites. They also want to learn about real life in the places they visit,' he said. 'It is impossible to understand the challenges of the people living here without talking to them and getting to know them. There used to be no companies that offered things like that. We were the first company to offer tours based on the two narratives. Our groups always have a Palestinian guide and an Israeli guide. People laughed at us at first and said that no one would come. But then we started to work with an large variety of groups, ranging from educational groups to tourists looking for exclusive tours. What they all had in common was a desire to understand what is really happening in Israel and [Palestine].'" www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/10/israel-west-bank-rashida-tlaib-tourism-birth-right-project.html
The holiday season is filled with traditional desserts. For a nontraditional dessert, you might want to try seaweed pie. The catch? It is only served at the potato museum on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Seaweed pie is made from Irish moss, an edible seaweed that used to be central to the economy of Prince Edward Island, where it was gathered and sold for use as a food thickener and in toothpaste. Irish moss continues to be harvested elsewhere for these purposes, but on Prince Edward Island, the pie is pretty much all that remains of the Irish moss trade. www.atlasobscura.com/foods/seaweed-pie
This topological map from Bloomberg shows the percentage of household income spent on housing, by state. The accompanying article discusses why California has become "America's worst housing nightmare." www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-california-housing-crisis
[This is the first in my two-part look at philosophical implications of genetic testing. I will post Part Two next Sunday.]
To whom does your DNA belong? Is it just you? Or does your DNA also belong to your family given that much of your DNA is shared with family members? Would this even be a question if the DNA testing of some individuals was not being used to identify other individuals? Should violating someone's privacy, in this case by potentially revealing that person's genetic profile, require the other person's permission?
As "Jennifer King, the director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, [notes] 'When you make this individual choice to upload a genetic sample to a site, you’ve brought along everybody you’re directly related to, as well as potentially your current or future children and grandchildren, and presumably you have not asked any of those people for their consent.' ... A study published in the journal Science last year looked at one such free database, GEDMatch, which contains the profiles of 0.5% of the U.S. population, and found that it could be used to identify 60% of Americans of European descent. With 2% of the U.S. population, this figure would increase to more than 90%, the researchers found. ...
Owned by a Chinese holding company, the for-profit Genomics Medicine Ireland Ltd. announced last November that it planned to build a database of 400,000 participants in Ireland, about 6% of the island’s population. Because the Irish are more closely related to each other than are other European populations, such a database would contain information about a huge proportion of the Irish citizenry. But it doesn’t stop there. From the middle of the 19th century up through the 1980s, Ireland experienced a massive emigration of its population. Ireland’s emigrants and their descendants are thought to number some 70 million. 'Because the diaspora is so large, you can then make some fairly educated guesses on an international level,' says Róisín Costello, a privacy researcher at the Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute at Trinity College in Dublin. 'That’s obviously extremely concerning.' Like Dr. King, Ms. Costello suggests that the way we tend to frame privacy as an individual right, one that each customer can negotiate on their own with a corporation, has the potential to erode the greater good."
According to recent data compiled by the OECD, a quarter of doctors practicing in the U.S. received their first medical degree somewhere other than the U.S. This geo-graphic compares the prevalence of foreign-trained doctors across various OECD countries: www.statista.com/chart/3849/the-countries-with-the-most-foreign-trained-doctors/
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is accepting submissions for its annual Profile in Courage essay contest. The contest encourages high school students to research and write about a U.S. elected official since 1917 who demonstrated political courage at the local, state, national, or international level. The top prize is $10,000 and a trip to Boston for the winner and his/her parents. The deadline for submissions is January 17. www.jfklibrary.org/learn/education/profile-in-courage-essay-contest
With Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, heading for an initial public offering (IPO) it seemed timely to share this set of maps from Visual Capitalist, detailing the world's biggest oil discoveries since 1868. www.visualcapitalist.com/map-worlds-biggest-oil-discoveries-since-1868/
Should outer space be preserved as a pristine laboratory for scientific research? Or should standards be relaxed to allow humans and all of their attendant gear and microbes to colonize Mars, the moon, and elsewhere? This article from Foreign Policy takes the latter view:
"For [Elon] Musk, Jeff Bezos, and other space visionaries, the solar system is filled with nearly unlimited natural resources that will relieve pressure on the Earth’s fragile environment, grow the U.S. economy exponentially, and propel humanity toward its destiny in the stars. Yet, Musk’s shining city on Mars and Bezos’s lunar ice mines are not universally celebrated. There is a group in the space community who view the solar system not as an opportunity to expand human potential but as a nature preserve, forever the provenance of an elite group of scientists and their sanitary robotic probes. These planetary protection advocates such as Monica Grady demand the strictest interpretation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which calls for avoiding “harmful contamination” of celestial bodies. ... It’s also important to note that many international competitors will ignore the demands of these protection extremists in any case. ... Forcing NASA’s proposed Mars exploration to do better, scrubbing everything and hauling out all the trash, would destroy NASA’s human exploration budget and encroach on the agency’s other directorates, too. Getting future astronauts off Mars is enough of a challenge, without trying to tote weeks of waste along as well. ... A reasonable compromise is to continue on the course laid out by the U.S. government and the National Research Council, which proposed a system of zones on Mars, some for science only, some for habitation, and some for resource exploitation. This approach minimizes contamination, maximizes scientific exploration, and allows for Musk’s city."
Assembling data from nearly 7000 sites around the world, researchers have assembled the first map of global earthworm distribution. "During the 1800s, intrepid explorers collected and cataloged many of the world’s plants and animals, providing range maps for different species that launched further study. But that wasn’t true for subterranean life. ... [E]arthworms have been studied long enough in Europe that most of the species are known. (The United Kingdom has 33 kinds.) But in the tropics, 'Every time they dig a hole, they find a new species of earthworm,' [soil ecologist Helen] Phillips says. ... [Researchers] were surprised when their analysis showed that temperature and rainfall seem to have a greater influence on where earthworms do best than soil type, they report today in Science. ... The effects of temperature and rainfall suggest climate change will have a far greater influence on below-ground life than expected, they say. Consequently, life above ground might also be affected in ways not previously anticipated. The distribution of different earthworm species was also surprising. When it comes to life above ground, the tropics have the greatest biodiversity. But underground, these constantly warm regions are far less diverse, at least at a local scale: The rich soils of Europe, the northeastern United States, the southern tip of South America, and the southern regions of New Zealand and Australia seem to have more earthworm species in a given area. Those temperate zones also host more earthworms overall, according to the model, with up to 150 per square meter versus just five per square meter in the tropics." www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/first-global-map-earthworms-reveals-which-places-are-chock-full-them-and-why
This map, from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows U.S. military veterans as a percentage of each state's population. The darker the blue, the higher the percentage of veterans. www.census.gov/content/census/en/library/visualizations/2018/comm/percentage-veterans/jcr:content/map.detailitem.950.high.jpg/1539725329299.jpg
Although the philosophy class I teach is for high school students, logic and critical thinking are essential activities that can be incorporated into learning and play in elementary school or even earlier, depending on the child. The unusual resources from Tin Man Press provide ideas and activities for doing just that. Be sure to check out the sample pages for any book you might be considering. tinmanpress.com/
The Kali River has long been recognized as the border between western Nepal and India. But where, exactly, does the Kali River start? India and Nepal have traditionally had somewhat different answers to that question, which puts the small (38 square km) Himalayan territory of Kalapani in dispute. Although India has administered Kalapani for decades and has had troops in the region since its brief 1962 war with China, India and Nepal have engaged in intermittent negotiations over Kalapani's status for years. A few days ago, though, the Indian government released a new map, reflecting its earlier decision to divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and this new map shows Kalapani as Indian territory, despite Nepal's protests that Kalapani belongs to Nepal. The release of the map, the northern part of which is shown here, has itself created a diplomatic kerfuffle. (The new territory of Jammu and Kashmir is shown in salmon; Ladakh is shown in turquoise north and east of it; Uttarakhand, which includes Kalapani, is shown in pink to the west of Nepal. Kalapani itself would be in the far northeast corner of Uttarakhand.) images.indianexpress.com/2019/11/INDIA-NEW-MAP-nepal.jpg
Interested in a quick project that combines art and science? Find some glass marbles no one is using anymore and turn them into "diamonds" using nothing more than a very hot oven and a bowl of ice water: www.youtube.com/watch?v=p01-Qupkc0s
Recent protests and elections in Chile and Argentina, respectively -- countries generally considered among South America's wealthiest -- have highlighted a high level of public dissatisfaction. This map, from The Economist (UK) and based on 2018 data, looks at the proportion of adults across Latin America who agree that they want to leave their country. Not surprisingly, countries like Venezuela (hyperinflation), Honduras and El Salvador (violence), and Haiti (poverty) rank highly, but nearly 1/3 of adults across the region want to emigrate. www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/09/07/nearly-a-third-of-latin-americans-want-to-emigrate
"According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes. The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. The study called on the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century. The two most prominent scenarios in the report focus on the risk of a collapse of the power grid within “the next 20 years,” and the danger of disease epidemics. Both could be triggered by climate change in the near-term, it notes.
“Increased energy requirements” triggered by new weather patterns like extended periods of heat, drought, and cold could eventually overwhelm “an already fragile system.” The report also warns that the US military should prepare for new foreign interventions in Syria-style conflicts, triggered due to climate-related impacts. Bangladesh in particular is highlighted as the most vulnerable country to climate collapse in the world. ... But without urgent reforms, the report warns that the US military itself could end up effectively collapsing as it tries to respond to climate collapse. It could lose capacity to contain threats in the US and could wilt into “mission failure” abroad due to inadequate water supplies." Excerpted from www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbmkz8/us-military-could-collapse-within-20-years-due-to-climate-change-report-commissioned-by-pentagon-says The report itself is available here: climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf
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