All posts filed under: The Environment Today

AAG Presidential Column – Creating and Preserving Actionable and Policy-Relevant Geography

Creating and Preserving Actionable and Policy-Relevant Geography news.aag.org/2017/01/creating-and-preserving-actionable-and-policy-relevant-geography/ 1/29/2017 Ensconced in our academic environs, as students or as faculty, we are sometimes accused of being removed and aloof from the issues of the real world and our research regarded as being of purely scholarly interest. Indeed, there are times for many of us that this may be more than a little bit true. I certainly have not been immune to being intrigued by questions with no apparent implications for the practical problems of the here-and-now. However, today, as often has been the case over its long history, the discipline of geography is being called upon — and called out — because of its importance in identifying and addressing problems of the wider world. Three recent items in the news reminded me of the potential role of geographers and geography in addressing the myriad challenges swirling around us at the present time. First, this past week the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, spoke at a Republican Party meeting in Philadelphia. She then met …

AAG Presidential Column – Strengths and Challenges of Diversity

Strengths and Challenges of Diversity news.aag.org/2017/01/strengths-and-challenges-of-diversity/ 1/5/2017 It is fair to say that the recent election has created deep concerns in our community regarding issues of diversity and gender equity. This unease certainly extends far beyond the campuses. In writing about the uncertainty in America’s corporate workplaces a recent article in Bloomberg stated, “Diversity issues have come to the fore as the presidential campaign exposed and deepened bitter divisions on matters such as the treatment of women and minorities.” So, as we enter the potentially troubled waters of 2017, allow me to share some of my thoughts on the fundamental issue of diversity as it relates to our discipline and the AAG. This past month the University of California reported on our 2017 applicant pool and it makes for enlightening reading in this regard. By the numbers — the UC applicants were 34 percent Chicano/Latino, 30 percent Asian American, 25 percent White, 6 percent African American and about 1 percent American Indian and Pacific Islander. In terms of socioeconomic diversity, 42.4 percent were from low …

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 – 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.” …

Drowning World – Photographic Arts and Climate Change Science at UCLA

Join us at UCLA on Thurs. May 12th for a blending of arts and sciences regarding climate change – Drowning World – Thursday, May 12, 2016 • 1-3 PM • UCLA Glorya Kaufman Hall 200 D r o w n i n g W o r l d Presentation by Award-Winning Photojournalist Gideon Mendel Followed by “The Art of Teaching Climate Change” Roundtable Glen MacDonald, John Muir Memorial Chair and Distinguished Professor of Geography, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Katharine Davis Reich, Environmental educator, UCLA Center for Climate Change Solutions Ramesh Srinivasan, Associate Professor of Information Studies Anurima Banerji (Co-moderator). Assistant Professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance David Gere (Co-moderator), Professor, World Arts and Cultures/Dance; Director of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center Over the past three years this London-based South African photographer has traveled to flood events in the UK, India, Pakistan, Australia, Thailand, Nigeria, Germany, The Philippines, Brazil, Bangladesh, and the United States. At each location he outfits himself in waders and submerges himself into the floodwaters to connect with victims and document …