Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ice climbing: Tim Emmett

Frozen limit of endurance: Canadian ice-climber Gadd, with Londoner Tim Emmett, spent four hours battling temperatures as low as -25c to become the first men ever to ascend the 450ft Helmcken Falls in British ColombiaTim Emmett - one of the world's best ice climbers and deep water soloists as well as part time surfer, flying suit jumper and adventure junkie is seen photographed below on the 450ft Helmcken Halls. Tim spent four hours battling temperatures as low as -25c to become the first men ever to ascend the 450ft Helmcken Falls in British Colombia.

This is one of my favourite photographs...ever. The ice is 'spray ice' formed from the splash black of the waterfall.

Long way down: If either of the climbers lost their grip, they faced a 100ft drop into an ice hole


To Infinity and beyond...

To Infinity and beyond so said Buzz to Woody...but it looks like a new form of extreme adventure tourism and science is about to begin 70years after Don Walsh made his monumental dive!

The BBC, as ever, has created a very informative link with good video links and excellent summaries:

But does the race to the bottom also herald a new form of extreme and elite adventure tourism?

The age of energy and the Green economy

Tribalism vs Globalisation

An extract from a good article:

Just beyond the horizon of current events lie two possible political futures—both bleak, neither democratic. The first is a retribalization of large swaths of humankind by war and bloodshed: a threatened Lebanonization of national states in which culture is pitted against culture, people against people, tribe against tribe—a Jihad in the name of a hundred narrowly conceived faiths against every kind of interdependence, every kind of artificial social cooperation and civic mutuality. The second is being borne in on us by the onrush of economic and ecological forces that demand integration and uniformity and that mesmerize the world with fast music, fast computers, and fast food—with MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald's, pressing nations into one commercially homogenous global network: one McWorld tied together by technology, ecology, communications, and commerce. The planet is falling precipitantly apart AND coming reluctantly together at the very same moment.

These two tendencies are sometimes visible in the same countries at the same instant: thus Yugoslavia, clamoring just recently to join the New Europe, is exploding into fragments; India is trying to live up to its reputation as the world's largest integral democracy while powerful new fundamentalist parties like the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, along with nationalist assassins, are imperiling its hard-won unity. States are breaking up or joining up: the Soviet Union has disappeared almost overnight, its parts forming new unions with one another or with like-minded nationalities in neighboring states. The old interwar national state based on territory and political sovereignty looks to be a mere transitional development.

The tendencies of what I am here calling the forces of Jihad and the forces of McWorld operate with equal strength in opposite directions, the one driven by parochial hatreds, the other by universalizing markets, the one re-creating ancient subnational and ethnic borders from within, the other making national borders porous from without. They have one thing in common: neither offers much hope to citizens looking for practical ways to govern themselves democratically. If the global future is to pit Jihad's centrifugal whirlwind against McWorld's centripetal black hole, the outcome is unlikely to be democratic—or so I will argue.

McWorld, or the Globalization of Politics

To read on  - click here

What is culture?

Is culture simply a system of shared values in a society, which influences lifestyles and creats boundaries for behaviour and interaction with others? What is the role of tradition? Of class? Of background and historical context...? And what role does globalisation have to play?

Is William's definition useful:

Or do shows like the BBC's Culture show help a little (or at all?)?

Is there a common definition? - I mean the word 'culture' features in one of the governments' departments -

And then there is the question of how culture produces cultural diversity and forms different cultural landscapes:

A good overview for this unit can be found here:

Andaman Islands tribe threatened by lure of mass tourism

The world of cultural diversity through film

So I am about to teach a research unit on Cultural Geography, part of the Unit 4 Edexcel A-level spec. It look fascinating and i thought I would start off by encouraging my students to explore cultural diversity through film - in an ever time spaced compressed world of homogeneous, cloned high streets and TNC cultural imperialism there is a fear that culture is becoming the same - homogenised and assimilated - but human nature has a habit for surviving and finding alternative spaces in which to express individual identity and keep customs from a past way of life.

Here are a few films that i thought of to show cultural diversity:

This is England - Mod and Skinhead culture in Thatcher's Briton.

East is East and Bend it like Beckham - clash of cultures and traditons versus Western influence

Lost in Translation:

Buena Vista Social Club - Cuban music survival in an era of online mucsic and itunes...

The class - entre les murs:
Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

Other titles of interest:
Goodbye Lenin! / Slumdog Millionaire / City of God / Waltz with Bashir / Babel / Fight Club / The Wickerman (for paganism)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Cultural landscapes and environmental knowledge

Programme is only on for a short time - click here

The BBC did an interesting doc on BBC last Friday - very interesting to see how indigenous environmental knowledge is passed on (or not).


Monday, 13 February 2012

Another Lake Nyos disaster....?

More than 1,000 people died in 1986 when a lake in Cameroon released a cloud of CO2 that suffocated entire villages. A much larger lake in Rwanda - with two million people living nearby - is also at risk of eruption, but plans are afoot to make it safer. Click here

Graphic showing Lake Kivu gas project

Monday, 6 February 2012

The importance of the RGS Monday Night Lectures

Dear all,

If you live in the vicinity of London - do please get down and attend one of these fantastic lectures, especially if you are a student or in academia. They are absolutely brilliant!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Arab Powder Keg: An animated map of protests in the Middle East as they spread from country to country, updated with the most recent events.

An animated map of protests in the Middle East as they spread from country to country, updated with the most recent events.

The protests that drove Hosni Mubarak out of power in Egypt were only the beginning of a wave of civil unrest that has boiled over into nearly all of the Middle East. Tunisia had already driven longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from office, and by the beginning of February, unrest had spread to Jordan, Lebanon, and Sudan. Many more countries were to follow. This map depicts the tides of protests and government retaliations day by day, beginning in Tunisia and ending with the unresolved conflict in Libya. You can click through the days one by one with the green arrows or choose "Autoplay." To get the big picture, just turn off the info boxes and crank up the speed.

A smorgasbord of useful Geog data websites for further research; Unit 4 esp

Different ways of measuring tectonic events...

Ok say ask any budding geographer how do you measure tectonic events and they will probably quote: Richter scale, Fujitsu scale, may be the Mercalli or even the VEI...but are some of these too out of date - according to topical popular science programme like QI they are!

Tectonic recording and measurements now focus and refer to the following:

Moment magnitude scale
Sieberg-Ambraseys Tsunami Intensity Scale

A great website/rss feed to subscribe to...

Malaria deaths country by country: how many are there?

A great feed on Global Development....

Moss helped cause Climate Change...

The invasion of the land by plants was a pivotal time in our history. It brought about huge changes to our climate”
Prof Liam DolanOxford University
Find out more here

Finally some common sense...?

Is another  national white elephant about to fall to the axe of common sense? I for one hope so as I am fed up how the debate on alternative energy, especially WIND, has droned on in background like the sound produced from the very turbines themselves!

Alternatives in principle are good (but which alternatives) and yes wind can make a positve contribution in specific geographic areas, but for the masses - simply no!