Geography Matters

Human & Physical Geography.

Devastated by an earthquake, followed by hurricanes, people in Haiti lead some of the most desperate lives in the world.  Aid agencies are trying to help, but getting the right supplies to the right place is hard when there are no accurate maps detailing the roads.  This is where Geography and technology step in:

This means maps, of people and buildings and roads, but of course there are no maps that are kept up to date frequently enough to be of much use.

So geographers have turned to drones and mapping software to correct the deficiencies.

 The drones are fully autonomous; you tell them what area you want them to image using Google Maps, turn them on, chuck them into the air, and then kick back as they fly around snapping pictures for you, guided by GPS.

Clever software from a company called Pix4D does all the hard work of stitching images together and georeferencing and orthorectifying everything, to the point where it can all just be dropped straight into a system like OpenStreetMap for aid agencies and local people alike to use almost immediately.

In a matter of hours the work is done, and supplies, medicine, and food can be delivered to the places most in need.

pretty cool, and very helpful.  Geography Matters.

Nile Dam Accord

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Nile Dam Accord | Al Jazeera America.

No details on the water sharing agreement from what will be Africa’s largest dam, but they have one.

Ethiopia, the source of Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.


Climate Change and Civil War

Climate Change Hastened Syria’s Civil War – Scientific American.

Climate change can make storms stronger, cold spells longer and water supplies drier. But can it cause war? A new study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says drought in Syria, exacerbated to record levels by global warming, pushed social unrest in that nation across a line into an open uprising in 2011. The conflict has since become a major civil war with international involvement.

More severe droughts are on the way, according to climatologists.  Although the US is a pretty stable place, what will happen when the water runs out in the west?

Drying and drought in Syria from 2006 to 2011—the worst on record there—destroyed agriculture, causing many farm families to migrate to cities. The influx added to social stresses already created by refugees pouring in from the war in Iraq [.]

Will we see “water wars”?

Although civil unrest is far less likely there, tension is indeed growing between political leaders in northern and southern California over who gets the increasingly scarce water from rivers, underground aquifers and snow melt, all of which are declining.

What about locally?  Electro Purification has met with a lot of protests from local residents as they drill in an unregulated portion of the Trinity aquifer.  What will happen when the neighbors’ pumps run dry?

Climate Change Hastened Syria's Civil War - Scientific American

No men allowed!

IMAGINE the secret-society feel of a British private members’ club mixed with the casual dress of a pyjama party. That is the atmosphere of Luthan Hotel and Spa, a women-only establishment in Riyadh, the austere Saudi capital.

via Segregation in Saudi Arabia: No men allowed! | The Economist.

Of course women don’t want to be confined at home, so the wealthy women of Saudi Arabia are finding a safe have in “women only” facilities.  These include spas, gyms, and one floor of the ritzy Kingdom Mall.

 Curves, an American gym chain, has found favour by offering its facilities to female fitness fanatics unencumbered by their men. The new trend means more jobs for women too. In the Luthan, female porters, cleaners and IT staff cater to the guests’ every whim.

Since they can’t drive, they still need men to take them there.  But things are changing, much too fast for many clerics.

 Some Saudi clerics have campaigned for women-only gyms to be shut down; one preacher declared that sport could cause women to “lose their virginity”.

However, as more women join the workforce change is inevitable.  How can you run an office where the men and women are keep segregated?

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