Exhausting the Inexhaustible: Ogalala and Aral Illustrated
Unmitigated Environmental Disasters Illustrated
This week’s Geocurrentcast is entirely dedicated to about baker’s dozen sites that epitomize the nasty human footprint that comes with heavy metals, heavy industry, and heavy consumerism.
The histories of Stalinist industrial wastelands, leaking oil Nigerian pipelines, massive American landfills, Brazilian Deforestation, smog filled Chinese cities, and towering Sarin gas smelters are all illustrated in this weeks in Google Earth tour on Geocurrents.info.
In order to view the tour, first download Google Earth.
Then download this KMZ file, with complete with descriptions, waypoints, and overlays to increase your understanding of these man made tragedies.
A Parade of Man Made Oddities: Shipwrecks, Crop Circles and the CCCP
This week was rife with tragic news: the Polish Presidential plane crash in Russia, revolutions and upheaval in Kyrgyzstan, and refugee crises emerging from Tamil emigrees from Sri Lankan, I thought it would be best to leave the gravity to the newspapers for the time being, and insert a bit of humor into this week’s Geocurrentcast.
This compendium of man made geographic oddities includes: crop circles, monolithic Antarctic remnants of the CCCP, ship graveyards and sunbathers.
The goal of this exercise, aside from dazzling you with Geographic Eye Candy, is to pique your curiosity towards the less conventional uses of Google Earth.
As a bonus to this tour, I’ve also composed and included what might be the first comedy sketch ever composed in Google Earth tour mode, ‘Jumping off Niagara Falls in a Barrel.”
Double click the video icon for this one minute long sketch, loosely based off of the existential desperation of Western New York depicted in Vincent Gallo’s landmark independent film, Buffalo 66.
As always, happy flying.
The Kyrgyz Revolution, Illustrated in Google Earth
Yesterday, protestors stormed the offices of the iron-fisted Kurmanbek Bakiyev regime across all of Kyrgyzstan.
Ministers were taken hostage, government buildings- torched, police cars- turned over, and the Kyrgyz flag- replaced with the blue flag of the opposition.
The opposition has claimed that a provisional government, under the rule of former minister Rosa Otunbayeva, with a constitution to be redrawn in six months.
Bakiyev has not officially resigned power, which may lead to a residual power struggle.
Rather than echo what you’ve heard already in the news, I’d like to visually illustrate the Kyrgyz uprising in Google Earth.
To see the major sites of the Kyrgyz Revolution, the piazzas where the protests began and the buildings which were seized, download this KMZ file.
No Island No Claim: The Cases of Tuvalu and Nauru
In 2009, the Island of Bermeja, located in the Gulf of Mexico disappeared from site. Now, it will disappear on maps, as well.
Mexico was using Bermeja to leverage a claim on oil rights in the Gulf of Mexico, after all, their state maps showed the Island as an unquestionable part of their territory. The problem was, when a crew went out to examine the Bermeja, it could not be found.
Another crew was sent out to investigate the claim, alas, nothing to be found. The disbelief even led to conspiracy theories of the CIA destroying the island (see: Bikini Atoll). The United States gave a prompt and cutting response to Mexico, “No Island, No Claim,” the norm in international law.
This case was followed up in the last week by news that New Moore Island, or S. Talpatti, in the Bay of Bengal, a former maritime dispute point between India and Bangladesh, had ceased to be.
Many of the UN’s tiniest and lowest lying states, Tuvalu, Nauru, and Maldives, for example are in jeopardy of becoming submerged in the next decade, due to rising ocean levels.
The international community has been somewhat sympathetic to these soon to be submerged countries, with New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and even the United States offering financial aid. There are plans in the works for full scale evacuations of many Islands Oceania, should there be a catastrophic upsurge in sea levels in the form of a king tide.
It is likely that those in Tuvalu, Nauru, and some Parts of the Maldives and the Marshall Islands could soon become people without a state, only a few years after joining the UN.
Goodbye Nanumea Island (Part of Tuvalu). We hardly knew ye.
This issue is the focus of this week’s GeocurrentCast, illustrated in Google Earth. We’ll be taking a satellite look at the fate of the world’s tiniest and least elevated island states.
To download the presentation, first download Google Earth.
Next, download this file, and double click the video icon in Google Earth to start the guided, narrated tour.
You can pause or stop the tour at any time to investigate some of the islands in closer detail.
Geocurrents.info is now on twitter. Make us your source for history, geography, and cyber-cartography.
Mining Scars & Smokestacks: Industrial Topography Illustrated in Google Earth
The Eyjafjallajokull Eruption Illustrated
To access the tour, first download Google Earth, then download this KML file, and finally double click the video icon in the places menu.
Our fingers here are crossed that Iceland can escape without a second eruption, and that this video is the worst of the damage. The Icelanders had a rough 2009, highlighted by the crash of their banking system. An eruption at Katla would make those problems seem as far off as Bjork’s time with the Sugarcubes.
Geocurrents on Google Earth: The Gulag Archipelago Illustrated
The Gulag system began under Lenin as a means of ‘Re-Education through Labor,’ and was expanded exponentially under Stalin. Twenty to Thirty Million people were imprisoned in concentration camps that stretched across the whole of the Soviet Union. The Gulag system was significantly de-intensified under Nikita Kruschev in 1960, but by that time, millions had perished, and millions remained enslaved.
These camps stretched across the continent in a massive system, coined the Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, one of the most important authors and historians of the 20th century, who had himself been enslaved in the system. His interviews with hundreds of zek’s in the Gulag system a harrowing portrait of humanity’s bleakest moments, and is an invaluable historical source.
For this weeks Geocurrentcast, I have digitally mapped a small sample of the labor camps in the Gulag Archipelago. It is an attempt to illustrate how terrain to be used as torture. There are a staggering amount of camps from this system, and I eventually endeavour to digitally map the whole of the Gulag Archipelago, overlaid with historical imagery.
First download the Google Earth File hereto access the tour.
If you are new to Google earth tours, first download google earth. Then download this file, and double click the video icon to play the narrated tour, or just click around the former Soviet Union.
Here are few other sites and maps I found, constructing the tour, that are particularly striking:
Solovki, a former monastery in on the Solovetski Islands was first inahbited by monks in the mid 15th century who migrated north from Moscow. Its was renowned for its harsh wintry solitude, and regarded as a holy place by some, owing to the absence of snakes. Passage to the island can be made nowadays only once a twice a week by plane or by ferry, when the conditions permitted.
CAVNIK, based in Northern Transylvania, Romania, is not a striking camp in any way. There were 96 others almost exactly like it in Romania alone. However, I through that this hand drawn prisoners map was particularly telling.
(image from http://www.osaarchivum.org/gulag/txt1.htm)
Illustrates the extent of the camp system, one state as a microcosm of the whole.
Geocurrents on Mars- A 3D Tour of the Red Planet in Google Earth
This weekend’s Google Earth adventure on Geocurrents will take us to a place colder than Svalbard or the Ross Ice Shelf, and dustier than the Namib, Nefud, or Taklaman Deserts.
With sweeping dune fields, seismic chasms, deep double impact craters, and a monolithic human face; Mars is a geographer, topographer, seismographer, hydrologist, and conspiracy theorist’s delight.
Provided for you, below, is a smooth, short narrated flyover tour of the red planet. The tour highlights the planet’s topographical features, including: the first man made object on mars, dune fields, polar ice caps, rover sites, canyons, dried riverbeds, and the captivating ‘Cydonia’ formation.
If you’re already comfortable with Google Earth, download the video tour and waypoints here. Otherwise, instructions on accessing our Martian tour are provided below.
First, download and install a copy of Google Earth.
Once you’ve loaded the program, switch your Google Earth browser into Mars mode. You can do this by using the explore tab in the view bar, as shown below:
You may also explore the planet step by step by double clicking the waypoints to fly from feature to feature.
Make sure to stop and read the information linked to the featured landmarks. This information provided by NASA, Google, and the University of Arizona, will enhance your tour experience.
This tour marks giant leap for Geocurrents.info.
GeoCurrentcast Episode #8- Central Africa
GeoCurrents is proud to present our eighth installment in the Geocurrentcasts series, an in depth illustrated lecture profiling the history and geography of current global events.
This week’s episode takes us to Central Africa, providing a comprehensive look at the history, linguistic diversity, and geography of the region, using the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a focal point. This comprehensive lecture captures the terrors and tragedies of King Leopold, Rwanda and the Sudan; polarizing figures like Mobutu and Lumumba; the historical meaning of the Rumble in the Jungle; plus everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Chad.
Free Tours of Guantanamo Bay… in Google Earth
54-40 or Fight, Canadian Bacon, and Vancouver: Land of the Olympics and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh
We’re going to run with the Olympic torch here at Geocurrents, and fill you in on the history and geography of Vancouver, beefed up with 3D Google Earth imagery.
Vancouver is North America’s fourth largest seaport, by tonnage. This owes largely to the geography of the region. The port is nestled away the pacific, by Vancouver Island, and the straits of Georgia, making it the most suitable harbor in the region.
Vancouver was originally home to the Squamish (alternately spelled Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), Tsleil-Waututh, and Xwméthkwyiem peoples of the Coast Salish Language Family. In the late 18th century, Englishman George Vancouver, and Spaniard José Maria Naravez, begun the first wave of European exploration, smallpox, slaughter and indigenous displacement.
The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and Klondike Gold Rush brought large waves of immigrants and prospectors into the city in the 19th century. Opportunities in mining, timber and furs, and manufacturing and attracted a constant flow of immigrants. By virtue of these factor endowments, Vancouver to displaced British Columbia’s provincial capital, Victoria, as the economic powerhouse of the region.
Vancouver’s proximity to the United States also bolstered its Olympic candidacy. Historically, Vancouver began the 19th century as a geographical grey area, administered as the Oregon Country by both the United States and Great Britain up to the border with Russia at the 54th Parallel. US president James Polk, appealed to expansionists with the campaign 1844 slogan 54’ 40 or Fight, but instead settled on the 49th parallel, and brought the fight to Mexico.
Vancouver was part of the extreme US claim for the Northwest, but the US lost its chance at Vancouver with the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which set today’s border at the 49th parallel. Still, expansionists were not pleased, and territorial grey area remained between the US and Canada until the resolution of history’s funniest bloodless, ‘The Pig War.’
The Pig War begun in 1859 on the island of San Juan, which with the Canadian city of Victoria to the West, and the American city of Bellingham, to the East, the Strait of Georgia to the North, and the Strait of Juan de Faca to the South. The boar of a Canadian farmer wandered on to the potato patch of an American farmer, so the American farmer shot the pig. The situation escalated to the point where over 2000 British troops, and 500 American troops squared off, but hurled nothing more than insults.
Peace was resolved under President Buchanan, but the territorial disputes between the US and Canada were not finalized until 1871 and, with the Treaty of Washington, and 1872, when an international arbiter under the guidance of Kaiser Wilhelm set the US-Canadian Marine Boundaries near Vancouver Island.
With the most active harbor in the Pacific Northwest, a few gold rushes worth of immigration, and British and American technological innovation, Vancouver had the pieces in place to blossom in to a Olympic host city, nearly a century ago.
Here’s where the fun comes in. For those of you who cannot afford a private blimp ride over the games, I’ve put together a floating satellite image tour of Vancouver in Google Earth.
Start on the tour by downloading Google Earth.
The mountain that you’ll see in the tour is Whistler Mountain, 70 miles north of Vancouver. It is a part of the Coastal Mountain Range, which runs up from California to Alaska. The kind folks at Google Earth went so far as to do a 3D panoramic street view for the mountain’s trails, inan update earlier this week.
(Note: Geocurrents is not responsible for any injury incurred during virtual Bobsledding tours)
This Geocurrents tour was largely built around the groundwork done here andherein the Google earth blog and forums, respectively.
Soccer Diplomacy Keeps Armenia, Azeris, Apart
The UEFA , football’s governing body, switched Armenia from its assigned group for a 2012 tournament, as draw would have guaranteed a matchup withneighbor and rival Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a frozen territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is territorially part of Azerbaijan, but has remained under Armenian control since the Nagorno-Karabakh War came to an end in 1994.
The modern region of Nagorno-Karabakh, was once the province of Artsakh, the eastern flank of the centuries old Armenian empire, with a large number of ethnic Armenians.
This decision by UEFA goes much further than football, it is an attempt to avoid a show off between hooligan’s who would attempt to recreate the Karabakh War or a crusade.
In the years since the fall of the Soviet Union, these linguistic identies have made themselves much more known. Armenia has inched closer towards Russia, while Azerbaijan, a country that is close to 90% Islamic, has recently announced an attempt to de-Russify its citizens’ names.
The rivalry expands into the most obvious channels of popular expression, in both countries. For example, this summer an Azeri citizen was questioned by Azeri authorities on why he voted for an Armenian entrant in the Eurovision song contest.
The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met once again this year in Russia, for the fifteenth straight year, to attempt to clear the Karabakh dispute, and could agree on nothing more than a preamble.
The decision by UEFA to keep Azerbaijan and Armenia from playing each other is childish.If the two countries cannot even be permitted to perform against each other in the football field, what does that say about the prospect of a lasting peace?
If anything, this story does put a new meeting on the term, ‘international friendly match.’
Geocurrentcast Episode #7- Latin America
Geocurrents.info is proud to present our seventh GeocurrentCast, which provides a broad scan of the electoral geopolitics of Latin America, while profiling the major candidates and ideals across Bolivia, Honduras, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela.