Ford Cochran- Chicken Soup for the Mind: Home Zone

Environmental scientist, educator, and writer Ford Cochran conducted fieldwork at Mt. St. Helens, on Hawaii’s volcanoes, and in its rain forests, savannas, and deserts while a Yale graduate student. He was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky before coming to the Geographic to help launch in 1996. Ford has joined National Geographic expeditions to Iceland, the Mediterranean, Florida, California, Costa Rica, the … Continue reading Ford Cochran- Chicken Soup for the Mind: Home Zone

Geography: In the News

A few months back we wrote about Guantanamo Bay resettlement issues when President Barack Obama announced his plan to close the high-security prison by January 2010. We asked you, our readers, how a geographic perspective could help U.S. decision makers solve the problem of what to do with Guantánamo prisoners…and now it seems that a “geographic perspective” played a key role in the resettlement of a number of Uighur detainees currently being held at Guantánamo Bay.

palau.gifThe 17 prisoners are all members of the oppressed Uighur ethnic minority in western China and have been detained by the U.S. military for seven years. The Uighurs were captured after September 11th, but were determined not to be enemy combatants dangerous to the U.S. Finding a suitable destination to resettle the Uighurs proved difficult: the United States feared they would be tortured or executed at the hands of the Communist government if sent back to China.

However, last week, to the great relief of the Obama administration, the South Pacific island nation of Palau agreed to host the 17 Muslim Uighurs for temporary resettlement.

Geographically speaking …. Palau is an archipelago of eight main islands plus more than 250 islets located about 500 miles east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. With a tiny population of about 20,000, it is best known as a tourism hot-spot.

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Guest Blogger Steve McCarville: Geographic Musings

Steve McCarville teaches computer technology and junior high geography in Omaha NE–41 N, 96 W. He has led grassroots geo-advocacy efforts in Nebraska for three years as a Public Engagement Coordinator for My Wonderful World.
nebraska_ref_2001.jpg**Last month we took a field trip to the Jewish Community Center to see a production of Hana’s Suitcase. The book tells the story of how a Japanese museum curator used an artifact from Auschwitz to discover the identity of a young Holocaust victim from Czechoslovakia. We used Google Earth and the Holocaust Museum Web site to look at her hometown of Nove Mesto, the camp at Terezin, and the infamous Auschwitz.

**We are finishing up Asia right now and will move on to Africa, which will be interesting as we have students and faculty from Sudan and Ghana. We will use the National Geographic lesson on God Grew Tired of Us! (for grades 6-8 and 9-12).


**Geography is always timely! In Nebraska we have five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and construction. Our state tree is an orange road construction barrel and the nice thing about construction is, when it starts, you have to practice your geographic orienteering skills. You have to learn a new way to the ballpark, a new way to the grocery store or a new way to work.

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Demystifying the Swine Flu Pandemic…with Geography!

GeoNews_SwineFlu_Resize.jpgCitizens around the world are concerned about the swine flu (H1N1) virus, which has been most insidious in Mexico but is also affecting travelers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and a growing number of nations. As of May 11, 3 U.S. deaths and upwards of 4,700 cases had been confirmed, with hundreds more suspected; as shown on Google

and Rhiza Lab’s Swine Flu incidence map.

Amid all the hype, assessing the real risks posed by the global spread of the disease can be daunting. Terms like “outbreak,” “epidemic,” and “pandemic” are often used liberally and interchangeably, infecting listeners with fear and confusion. Luckily, My Wonderful World is here to the rescue! The distinctions among these terms, and their implications, are–you guessed it–geographic.

Here’s a quick primer: An outbreak occurs when the reported cases of a disease are greater than the levels predicted for a given area or period of time. That means that if one person is predicted to get the flu in your town, and two become ill, it’s an outbreak! Outbreaks are usually, but not always, limited in geographic scale. The current swine influenza was considered to have reached outbreak status in April as a result of growing numbers of cases in Mexico.

Technically, the term epidemic can be used synonymously with outbreak, but it typically refers to a larger-scale incident affecting greater numbers of people in a more expansive geographic area. Confirmed reports of swine flu in the United States and Canada signaled an epidemic. 

A pandemic is an epidemic that has reached global proportions. The World Health Organization recognizes six stages or “phases” in the development of pandemic flu (these stages largely replace use of the terms outbreak and epidemic). The phases are categorized according to several factors including (1) virus presence in animals and/or humans, (2) rate of transmission, (3) geographic extent of the disease and (4) response recommendations.

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