All posts tagged: Geography

Time Magazine Interview on California Fires

I was recently interviewed by Time Magazine on the 2017 California wildfire season.  The combination of high precipitation in the winter promoting much fine fuel growth, the long period since last significant rainfall and the high summer temperatures being experiences in Southern California have produced a dangerous situation.  The main unknown in the equation is the frequency and timing of ignition sources. Let’s hope for the best. Read the Time article here – http://time.com/4838989/california-drought-wildfire-fire-season/ Advertisements

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 – 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 …

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.” …

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 …