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GeoCurrents Suspension

By Martin W. Lewis | January 17, 2015 |

Dear Readers,
Due to a number of professional obligations and personal matters, I must suspend GeoCurrents until at least April 2015. At that time I will reconsider the future of the site. Many thanks to those who have read the blog, and special thanks to those who have taken the time to provide informative comments.
Best wishes to all,
Martin Lewis

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Cannabis Cultivation, Carbon Budgets, and the Promise of Biochar

By Martin W. Lewis | December 30, 2014 |

(Note: This is the final post in a brief end-of-the-year series on marijuana cultivation. After this series is over, GeoCurrents will take a short break. More conventional posting will resume by the middle of January.)
As is explained in a previous post, most marijuana growing currently carried out in California and neighboring states is environmentally destructive, generating a gargantuan carbon footprint. …

Why Does the Environmental Movement Ignore Carbon-Intensive Indoor Marijuana Cultivation?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 27, 2014 |

As noted at the end of the previous post, many anti-environmentalists no doubt view hypocrisy over carbon-intensive indoor marijuana cultivation as evidence that environmental politics is not really what it claims to be, as it is apparently more concerned about advancing a broad political agenda than it is about greenhouse-gas emissions per se. This view is widely encountered in a …

Ultimate Hypocrisy?: Indoor Marijuana Growing and the Environmental Movement

By Martin W. Lewis | December 22, 2014 |

Imagine if you will an alternative world in which the leaders of one of our most reviled industries – say tobacco – had just figured out a new way to marginally enhance the quality of their product while significantly boosting their profits, but at a gargantuan cost to the environment. In this hypothetical universe, tobacco researchers discovered that they could …

NPR’s Incomplete Story on “Trimmigants” in the California Marijuana Industry

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2014 |

On December 4, 2014, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interesting story on a severely underreported matter: international seasonal labor migration to the “Golden Triangle” of marijuana cultivation in northwestern California. This report—“With Harvest Season, ‘Trimmigrants’ Flock To California’s Pot Capital”*—captured many of the more intriguing and important aspects of the phenomenon. But it also missed some significant things and …

Simultaneous Flooding and Drought in California: Human-Caused Climate Change?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 12, 2014 |

Although droughts and floods are generally thought of as opposites, they can occur simultaneously, as droughts tend to be long and cumulative while floods are generally short-lived and episodic. Much of the U.S. state of California currently finds itself in this paradoxical situation. Several storms have hit the state since the beginning of December 2014, and that of December 11-12 …

The Uncertain Role of Religion in Indonesia’s 2014 Presidential Election

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2014 |

The on-line maps that I have found of Indonesia’s 2014 presidential election are not very helpful. That of the Wikipedia is particularly poor. To begin with, it merely shows which candidate received a majority of votes in each province, with no information provided on the margin of victory. But the returns actually varied quite significantly across the country, with the …

Sexualized Dangdut Performances in Indonesia and Resulting Controversies

By Martin W. Lewis | December 9, 2014 |

As the most recent GeoCurrents post explained, heavy-metal music has been of some political importance in Indonesia, with the country’s new president, Joko Widodo, being a major fan. Although cultural tension between “metalheads” and conservative Muslim organization is an on-going issue, overt clashes have been relatively rare and restrained. Religious groups in Indonesia have, however succeeded in shutting down musical …

Indonesia’s 2014 Presidential Election and the Geography of Heavy Metal Music

By Martin W. Lewis | December 4, 2014 |

When lecturing in my course on the History and Geography of Current Global Events, I always begin by showing an enigmatic map or other image and asking if anyone can make sense of it. This week the topic was Indonesia, focusing on the country’s 2014 presidential election (which is admittedly rather old news). I began the class with the image …

Intriguing Features on the Oxford Map of the English Wikipedia

By Martin W. Lewis | November 30, 2014 |

As a habitual Wikipedia reader, I am particularly intrigued by the map and article entitled “Mapping English Wikipedia” found at Information Geographies (at the Oxford Internet Institute). Here, almost 700,000 dots have been placed on a world map to show the locations of geotagged articles in the English-language Wikipedia. As the authors explain:
Not all articles are geotagged, but almost all …

Mapping the Global Distribution of Information at Oxford

By Martin W. Lewis | November 28, 2014 |

A variety of interesting and informative maps and other visualizations of global information flow can be found at the website called Information Geographies put out by the Oxford Internet Institute. The goal of the larger project is to:
[P]roduce a comprehensive atlas of contemporary information and Internet geographies, that will draw on four years of focused research conducted at the Oxford …

Do Swedish-Americans Vote for Democrats? National Origins and Voting Behavior in the United States

By Martin W. Lewis | November 24, 2014 |

In responding to a recent GeoCurrents post comparing electoral geography in Minnesota and northern California, commentator Barzai makes some important points about ethnicity and national background. As he notes, people of Scandinavian and German descent are a much more significant factor in Minnesota than in California. More importantly, he argues that the concept of a monolithic “White” population is challenged …

The Geography of Iowa’s Republican Shift

By Martin W. Lewis | November 20, 2014 |

As mentioned in the previous post, one of the few parts of the United States in which White-majority rural (or small-city-focused) counties regularly vote for Democrats in national elections is the “greater Upper Mississippi Valley,” as outlined on the map posted here. Across the country more generally, non-metropolitan White-majority “blue” countries are found on the Pacific Cost and in the …

Minnesota and Northern California: Political Twins or Political Opposites?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 17, 2014 |

Two U.S. states that largely bucked the Republican trend in the 2014 election were Minnesota and California, which count among the “bluest” states in the union. Since 1976, only Minnesota has supported the Democratic candidate in every presidential election. California has more recently entered the Democratic fold, having voted for a Republican presidential candidate as recently as 1988, but in …

U.S. Political Party Strength Index Map

By Martin W. Lewis | November 14, 2014 |

As yesterday’s post noted, the United States moved decidedly in the direction of the Republican Party in the November 2014 election. To illustrate the relative strength of the Republican Party at the state level, I have created a “US Party Strength Index Map,” posted here. The methodology is simple. Taking into account the recent election, I awarded one point for …

Does the Red-State/Blue-State Model of U.S. Electoral Politics Still Work?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 13, 2014 |

Since the 2000 election, it has been common to divide the United States into a “Red America” of reliably Republican-voting states and a “Blue America” of reliably Democratic-voting states, a maneuver that highlights the relative scarcity of “purple” or swing states. As can be seen in the Wikipedia map posted to the left, “blue” states are concentrated in the Northeast, …