Geography News this week...
Series Of Earthquakes Stun Italy
Up until August last year, most people would have considered Italy a safe, viable destination to travel to.Although known for it's corruption and questionable police force, it has remained an enduring tourist attraction, thanks to it's well preserved national heritage sites and celebrated culture. With temperate summers and mild winters, it has long been a destination for holiday makers - but this might soon change. On August 24th 2016, the country was rocked by a series of Earthquakes, the most aggressive of which registered at 6.2 on the richter scale. Nearly 300 people lost their lives and over 400 people were injured across the country. It was the first of a series to hit the country after a 4-year hiatus from tectonic activity. The most recent of these, registering at 5.7, has led to at least 14 fatalities at an Italian mountain hotel in Abruzzo. After 5 incidents in the space of a year, it would appear that Italy is entering a new era of increased natural disasters.
Asia's E-Waste Mountains Rise To Record High
China is currently leading the way with record amounts of e-waste being left as a result of an ever increasing market for new consumer electronics.A whopping 16 million tonnes of electronics waste was dumped in the space of a single year - a number that has risen by 63% within 5 years. E-waste includes any kind of electronic item that contains toxic or valuable metals that can not simply be put into a landfill. Items such as televisions, phone and toys often contain pollutants that have been linked to adverse effects on human health, including inflammation and oxidative stress. These symptoms are often seen as precursors to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The demand for consumer electronics is unlikely to desist in China or the rest of Asia, where similar cases of e-waste have been increasing for the past few years. The question remains, what will the long-term consequences be for these countries' populations and is there a way of turning the tide?
Popularity Of Geography Under Threat In Scotland
After a series of particularly poorly received exams have left both students and teachers scratching their heads, the popularity of the Geography A-Level in Scotland may well be on the decline.The Royal Scottish Geographical Society, back in November, made a submission to Members of Scottish Parliament, warning that if the Scottish Qualifications Authority did not amend their exams properly for the next year the subject could see a significant decrease in popularity. Of all the teachers, who took part in a survey on the much criticised exam paper, 10% considered the paper as 'fair, OK, or better' whereas over 50% of the teachers thought it was 'poor, shocking, terrible, worst ever and nothing like the specimen or previous paper.' SQA have responded insisting that the paper was of an 'appropriate standard'. Fortunately for us, the subject still remains as popular as ever in England and Wales.
There was a time when I lived in a house without windows...
I'm slightly older than my fellow writers here at the Geography Collective, as such I'm given a little leeway in regards to my indulgences in nostalgia.My journey from rural Pyeongchang, South Korea to the urban sprawl of Manchester here in the UK is one that never ceases to amaze the new people I meet. My Mother met and married my step-father, a British man visiting the country for business back in 1979. My biological Father, an inveterate drinker and gambler, had long since abandoned my Mother and I, leaving us to fend for ourselves in what was a rather harsh financial climate. Thankfully, the local community were kind to us, giving us food when we needed it and providing me with clothes when I needed them. The mists of the past often cloud the smallest of details, which only deign to reveal themselves after the mind is brought to attention by a stimulus of the present day. Such an instance presented itself just the other day. It all started with something relatively mundane. Recently, my wife and I decided that we needed to replace our windows. For nearly a decade, we'd been living with single glazing, leading to the cold of the England's North continually sucking all the heat from our little terraced home. The team at Allerton Windows promised me that they could replace all our shoddy single panes with strong double glazing within a day. I stayed at home on the day that they were due to visit, whilst my wife escaped to a friend's house. The men arrived and the old windows were duly removed, leaving the house open to the elements. I had work to complete at home, so I sat in my study wrapped up in a jacket, leaning over my students' exercise books. As my breath appeared before my eyes, with the bright white light of an overcast day poring through the open window, my mind was transported back to Pyeongchang in the 1970s. The 70s were a turbulent time for South Korea - I grew up in a time book-ended by student protests, military coups and assassinations. For a young boy, living in the rural scrub of the countryside, these political issues were the barely audible whispers of conflict. Such noises were drowned out by our wireless radio. This little box forever played our country's approximation of Folk music - which was growing increasingly popular amongst women my Mother's age, due to the impact that American culture had on the country's tastes following the war in the fifties. In those days, our traditional Korean home was fast becoming obsolete. During the balmy summers, the open windows were a relief, allowing a breeze to flow through our small two-room home, but in the dead of winter they were a curse. If my Mother closed the shutters I'd be left in darkness with no light to study by, so she left them open. We wrapped up warm and the fog and mist, that collected off the nearby paddy fields, drifted lazily through our small home, as I struggled over algebra problems and my Mother sung along to covers of Simon & Garfunkel.
The men finished their work on time and my wife returned to a house that was finally warm from top to bottom. She found me asleep that afternoon, in my dimly lit office with my head resting on my students' work, 'The Sound of Silence' playing on the radio.