Category Archives: Geography

10 Reasons to Love Alaska

10.  Beautiful Scenery!

9.  Mt. McKinley

8.  Northern Lights

7.  Iditarod

6.  Snowboarding

5.  Polar bears

4.  Salmon

3.  Fresh air

2.  Space

1.  Sarah Palin

Reading About Global Warming. . .Carefully

    From “Experts: ‘Global Warming Heat Stress’ Threatening Nations” at FOX News:

Climate change is likely to first hurt developing countries which could become almost too hot to successfully grow essential crops, international experts told a conference Wednesday.

     Whoa!  Doesn’t “almost too hot” really mean NOT too hot?  And how vague is “likely”?  How likely is it?  How do the experts know?  How many experts think so, and what are their qualifications?

     World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Katherine Sierra told a scientific conference in Canberra that “heat stress” from global warming posed a serious threat to food supply.

     Except. . . that food supplies are already very low because. . .because. . .because of efforts to curtail global warming.  Ethanol production puts lots of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  It also takes food away from food banks and puts it into our gas tanks.  Great idea!  On top of that, the crops for it are being grown in cleared land in the Amazon Basin and in Southeast Asia.  Those forests help keep the earth cool.  Three strikes against using food as automobile fuel!  Shouldn’t that mean that it’s out?

He said while crop yields could benefit in the short term from rising temperatures, they are predicted to shrink significantly with a 5 degree Celsius (9 degree Fahrenheit) increase which the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts could happen by 2050.

     Call me stupid, but wouldn’t more CO2 and more intense sunlight result in more plant growth, and wouldn’t that cool off the earth’s surface and put more H2O into the atmosphere, which would make more rain which would further cool off the earth’s surface (as well as provide more drinkable water)?  I’m basing that on my high-school level science knowledge.  Maybe a more knowledgeable person could point out the problems in my thinking there.

     I don’t want to make light of starvation–not one bit.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes, while working with folks who are trying to prevent it.  But if people mean business there are measures that could reduce starvation in the world right now.  They are:

  1. Produce more petroleum in the United States and other non-Arab countries, in order to bring the prices down.
  2. Stop subsidizing the growing of corn for ethanol, so that farmers will grow more FOOD and the prices of the food crops will go down.
  3. Stop subsidizing the growing of sugar cane and palm oil for fuel, because those things are wiping out thosands of acres of native vegetation.
  4. Stop disincentivizing WORK by giving so much foreign aid that local people no longer even bother to fish, plant crops, or raise livestock.  Give aid only in extreme emergencies and only to stave off starvation.  People need a reason to work, and for most people in the world, hunger is the most motivating reason of all.  Besides MOST of that aid enriches oppressive dictators.
  5. Enact any and all measures that free up the economies of developed countries, so that they will have more resources to share with the rest of the world.

A Candian Nobody But a Chinese Celebrity

     I’m fascinated by the story of Mark Rowswell who has no fame whatsoever in his native land of Canada but is a very popular TV personality known as Dashan in China.  You can learn how he became such a famous guy in China in this BBC article.

     I’m a little jealous.  I’ve been on TV a few times, including twice in a foreign country, but I’m still a nobody all over the world.

Amazing Places III

Kiev, Ukraine

     Gate Church of the Trinity, Kiev

     I went to Kiev two times to teach at education conferences.  It was truly mindblowing to be in such an ancient city.  It was also mindblowing, and very satisfying, to be in the independent nation of Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


For More Information

     Wikipedia Article on Kiev

     Kiev Info Website

Amazing Places I

     This is the first in a series of posts on amazing places that I have visited.

     Djenné, Mali

     I have been to Djenné twice.  One of those times I had the awesome experience of touring an archelogical dig on a tell outside the city.  You can learn more about Djenné and about its ancient neighbor, Djenné-jeno, at the following websites.

Wikipedia Article on Djenné

Wikipedia Article on the Great Mosque of Djenné

Places of Peace and Power Entry on Djenné

UNESCO’s World Heritage Entry on Djenné

Brochure on Djenné-jeno Archaeological Site

Aluka Entry on Djenné


Washington, D. C.: What I Felt There

     I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately–more for business than for pleasure, but I recently spent a few days with my family in Washington, D. C.  I wish that I could stay there for several months instead of several days, as there is so much to see and do there.  I was surprised at the feelings that gripped me while we were there–some negative and some positive.

     I felt a dull pang as I realized how much of history is centered around warfare.  Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and other monuments remind one again and again of the bloody conflicts of America’s past.  I do not oppose war categorically, but it is sad beyond words to think of all that bloodshed.

     I felt regret over the flaws and mistakes of the United States.  Slavery, mistreatment of indigenous people, political corruption, greed, ecological irresponsibility, and other national sins are revealed in the American History Museum and in other key sites in the nation’s capital.  I am sorry for and ashamed of some of our policies and actions.  But. . .

     I mostly felt proud of the United States and grateful that I was born here.  I have lived in other countries, and I am extremely thankful for the rights that I can exercise here and for the legacy of freedom that my American ancestors have passed down to me.  I am proud of the acomplishments of my fellow Americans–the electric lightbulb, motion pictures, the first successful airplane, the first moon landing.  We have participated in wars, but almost always wars that I believe were justified and for the greater good.  We did practice slavery, but we also ended the practice.  We have suffered under political corruption, but we also have a better system than probably any other modern country for rooting it out and punishing the perpetrators.  We have polluted the environment, but we have also worked hard to clean it up and to take better care of the precious creatures we share the land with.

      As flawed as the United States is, it is a great nation–a nation that I love with all my heart.  And, as I discovered during my visit to Washington, D. C., it is a nation that I love more now than I ever have before.