All posts filed under: Featured

AAG Presidential Column – Post-truth World

Geography in a Post-Truth World Glen M. MacDonald December 7, 2016 Geography in a Post-Truth World2016-12-08T08:29:51+00:00 Featured News, President’s Column 0 Comments This past month the Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” as its 2016 Word-of-the-Year. The word was chosen because it has seen a “spike in frequency this year in the context of the European Union referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States” and “has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary.” For scholars and educators the idea that being truthful is now optional should be deeply troubling, as it undermines the ethical and operational foundations upon which we function. In this column I want to explore the turn towards a post-truth world. Two other similar descriptors have become more widespread in recent years — post-factual and post-rational. I believe that these terms are all part of the same sociological and political trend, but have important differences. Post-factual does not necessarily mean being untruthful, it may represent situations in which pertinent factual information is …

AAG Presidential Column – Geography, Institutions and the Fate of People and Planet in the 21st Century

Geography, Institutions and the Fate of People and Planet in the 21st Century Glen M. MacDonald November 2, 2016 Geography, Institutions and the Fate of People and Planet in the 21st Century 2016-11-03T08:34:11+00:00 Let’s talks about Geographical Determinism. Got your attention? I thought so. The term, along with its cousin, Environmental Determinism, has long been disdained and pejorative amongst geographers, anthropologists and other disciplines. There is a rightful rejection of determinism’s racist connotations and applications in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There is also good cause to question explanations of complex societal attributes and histories that are based on selected geographic/environmental conditions alone. To even utter the terms Geographical Determinism here in the Newsletter of the American Association of Geographers, much less start a column this way, might well be considered a step into dangerous waters! My reasons are not, however, to delve into the darker corners of our discipline’s history or weigh the value of examining humankind’s past through an environmental lens. Rather my focus is on the present-day and the future. My …

AAG Presidential Column – The World of the City

The World of the City Glen M. MacDonald September 1, 2016 The World of the City2016-10-05T15:19:29+00:00 President’s Column 0 Comments Those of us alive today are witnessing one of the most profound events in all of human history — and it is an event, which is fundamentally geographic in nature. The transformation we are experiencing is the concentration of the majority of the world’s population into urban areas. Although much has been made of the United Nations report that declared as of 2008 half the world’s population live in urban areas, this trend has been a long-term feature of the 20th and 21st centuries. In 1900 only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. The trend towards greater urbanization accelerated from the 1950s and shows no indication of stopping. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 some 70 percent of the world population will live in urban areas. In terms of absolute numbers that means in just 34 years there will be some 6.4 billion city dwellers. It is not just the proportion of the …

AAG Presidential Column – The Long, Hot Summer

The Long, Hot Summer Glen M. MacDonald October 5, 2016 The Long, Hot Summer2016-10-05T15:29:25+00:00 Featured News, President’s Column 0 Comments It has been a long, hot summer. In July, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released its analysis of global temperatures for the first six months of 2016. Each of these months has set a record for global temperatures. Taken together, this marks the warmest six-month period since the record began in 1880. The temperatures for the first half of 2016 were about 1.3o C warmer than the late 19th century average. This is not a trivial amount. Two weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its analysis of August 2016 temperatures and found that it marks the 16th straight month of record-breaking temperatures for the globe. California, where I am writing this, is really feeling the heat. High evapotranspiration rates have locked the state in a condition of severe to exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. My own research focuses upon long-term climatic change. For me, anomalously warm years …

International Press Coverage on Drought Study

Wow! Our drought study – MacDonald, G. M., Moser, K.A., Bloom, A. M., Potito, A.P., Porinchu, D.F., Holmquist, J.R., Hughes, J. and Kremenetski, K.V. 2016. Prolonged California aridity linked to climate warming and Pacific sea surface temperature. Nature.Com/Sci. Rep. 6, 33325;  http://www.nature.com/articles/srep33325 – garnered international press coverage in print, online, television and radio. It was really quite something.  The headlines and stories were a bit more sensational than our rather conservative wording in the actual article.  That being said – it is good idea at this time to consider that California and the West is likely to be more arid in the coming decades, from higher temperatures and evaporation rates if nothing else, and we should some serious thinking and planning. Hopefully this media attention will help get people thinking about these challenges in California and the Southwest.  The thing that worries me is that although we might be able to develop engineering and conservation strategies for the water applied to our farms and cities, we will not be able to irrigate the vast areas …

New Study on Drought by MacDonald Lab

I was the lead author on a new study of California drought based on using lake sediment records from the Sierra Nevada to look at how past climate warming has impacted the Pacific Ocean and California hydroclimate. This work took many years and was a real team effort between the MacDonald Lab’s graduate students and post-docs and Professor Katrina Moser and her team from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Just like the stock market, past performance does not predict the future, but it can provide insights into what might occur with continued warming.   The article was published in Nature.com/Scientific Reports and is freely available to read and download at the Nature.com site – MacDonald, G. M., Moser, K.A., Bloom, A. M., Potito, A.P., Porinchu, D.F., Holmquist, J.R., Hughes, J. and Kremenetski, K.V. 2016. Prolonged California aridity linked to climate warming and Pacific sea surface temperature. Nature.Com/Sci. Rep. 6, 33325; http://www.nature.com/articles/srep33325 Below is the Abstract for the article – Abstract California has experienced a dry 21st century capped by severe drought from 2012 through …

AAG Presidential Column – Geographies of Bread and Water in the 21st Century

Geographies of Bread and Water in the 21st Century Glen M. MacDonald August 5, 2016 Geographies of Bread and Water in the 21st Century2016-08-15T11:14:18+00:00 Featured News, President’s Column, Recent News 0 Comments Geography is a big discipline, both in terms of its global purview and the wide spectrum of scholarly perspectives geographers bring to bear. We should not be shy about applying ourselves to some of the biggest and most complex problems facing the world. What could be a more critical problem then providing bread and water to support the planet’s population now and in the year 2050 when over 9 million people will depend on the finite resources of the earth for sustenance? This past month the United Nations held a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and issued its first tracking report on global sustainable development. U.N. officials noted that today approximately 800 million people suffer from hunger and 2 billion face challenges of water scarcity. Of course, the challenges of food and water scarcity are not homogenously distributed across a “flat earth.” …

KQED Article on Lake Mead and California’s Water

I was recently interviewed for a Water Deeply  article on what the falling levels of Lake Mead might mean to California in terms of water.  Clearly not a good situation in store for us here in Southern California if present trends continue. Here is the KQED Public Broadcasting Link  – http://ww2.kqed.org/science/2016/06/21/what-lake-meads-record-low-means-for-california/  

AAG Presidential Column – The End(s) of Geography?

July 1, 2016 AAG Presidential Column – The End(s) of Geography? news.aag.org/2016/07/the-ends-of-geography/ SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TWITTER #PresidentAAG Serving as your President is a singular honor, but also one that is more than a little daunting. My trepidation arises from three sources. First, with the honor of being elected President comes the responsibility to ably serve the aspirations of a wonderful, but large and highly diverse membership. Second, our past Presidents have set a very high bar of achievements against which new incumbents are sure to be measured. These are big shoes to fill. So, before I move on to my third point, allow me to thank the Members of the AAG for their confidence. I also thank our immediate past Presidents Sarah Bednarz, Mona Domash and Julie Winkler for the inspiration and warm friendship they have provided. In the end, all I can promise is that I will do my very best to serve all our Members and further the legacy of our past Presidents. What I would ask in return is that you …