Cooling, soothing, mixture of mung dal, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice, coriander, coconut, etc. – kōsambari is a lovely mixture for a summer day. Today, I give you a geographical kosambari, to refresh your mind (and body?) … with geography. Relish it and open your mind to enjoyment during your summer holidays.

  1. Carbon in the Anthropocene

Atmospheric carbon, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major green-house gas. There is a lot of it! There are some others which are less in quantity but much deadlier than this. (Methane is one example)

A lot of the efforts to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere deals with two aspects: (a) reducing CO2 emissions, and (b) removing atmospheric carbon to reduce its presence. One way of removing atmospheric carbon is to increase green plant cover on Earth; plant more trees. This is not always possible for a variety of reasons. So, enter the technology people who offer technological solutions to this problem. Their ideas are here, here, and here. (All links open in a new window/tab)

Do you agree with any of these ideas? Why or why not?

  1. How place matters

There are many diseases that spread geographically; that is, they spread from place to place riding in carriers (vectors). Geographical spread of a disease within a smaller area is called an epidemic (from the Greek word epidemia ‘staying in one place, among the people’ – When the spread crosses national boundaries, it is called a pandemic.

Place is the core concept of geography. In the spread of diseases, as in many other things, place matters. A lot! Why? Because places have conditions that help diseases to spread. These conditions may be (a) natural – e.g.: climate, native vegetation and animals; and (b) cultural – human practices – e.g.: rituals, habits, etc.

The plague is one of the deadly diseases that can spread quite easily. Here is a story of the island nation of Madagascar and how local cultural practices are leading to deadly consequences.

If you are asked to prevent this spread, what would you do?

  1. Go UP, avoid Zika

Another example of how place matters! Recently I shared with you some geographical aspects of the Zika virus and the problems it is causing. The environment in which the virus thrives and causes disease is an important factor.

The USA’s Centers for Diseases Control (CDC), one of the most highly respected organizations in the world recommends that to avoid the Zika virus, we should “stay more than a mile above sea level.” (1 mile = 1.61 km) Read their idea and the reasons for this here.

Is this suggestion practical? Why or why not? Which places in the world have altitude of more than 1.61 km?

  1. Domain name surprise

You are probably aware of what domain names are on the internet: those things with, for example, “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, “.uk”, “.in” etc.

In the South Pacific nation of Tokelau (population 1,337), has 10% of all domain names registered in the world. This is more registered domains than either Germany or China – each of these two countries a little over 16 million domains registered. Here is an article that tells you about this odd phenomenon, and a large version of a map mentioned in that article. This map is called a cartogram – the areas of the countries are proportional to the size of what is being mapped; in this case, the number of domains registered in each country.

Why is this whole situation with Tokelau odd?

  1. Visual Earth

One of the most popular online Earth-viewing programs is Google Earth. This is a very useful tool to learn (and teach) about different geography concepts. Sadly, very few teachers in India use this even if they have access to the internet in the classroom.

Here is a site where you can download, for free, various apps for learning geography concepts.

You must have installed Google Earth and must have an internet connection.

Well, go forth and explore these resources.

With this column, I sign off for this year. I hope you have enjoyed these articles and become at least a little bit more curious about geography … in your neighborhood and all the way to the whole world.

You will soon be going on holidays. I hope you get to do a lot of fun things, especially travel. Gather a lot of experiences, observe the places you visit and the routes you take there. That is the best way of learning geography.

Happy holidays and my best wishes to all of you.

A version of this article appeared in the Deccan Herald Student Edition, 31 March 2016.

Featured image: Courtesy, The Washington Post, © 2016.


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