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Articles in Environmental Geography

Mapping the Extraordinary Cost of Homes in California

By Martin W. Lewis | January 6, 2016 | 7 Comments

Housing prices in parts of California have reached a level so astronomical as to provoke widespread despair (coupled, however, with a certain degree of concealed glee among of the beneficiaries). The geography of housing costs can be easily grasped by juxtaposing a map of median home prices in USA Home Price MapCalifornia with a similar map showing all of the United States

Additional Oddities of Kiribati’s Line Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | November 27, 2015 | One Comment

Before moving on from the current series of posts on Kiribati, it is worth exploring a few additional aspects of this intriguing country.
The first of these points may be somewhat trivial but is still worth mentioning: The recent Gilbertese colonization of the Line Islands undermines the stock idea that Polynesia can be delimited within a vast triangle, with apexes situated in …

Argentina’s Controversial Energy Policies

By Martin W. Lewis | September 6, 2015 | One Comment

As noted in the previous post, the most economically productive areas of Argentina depend heavily on the extraction of oil and natural gas. Argentina, however, is not a major fossil-fuel producer, and its reserves of conventional oil and natural gas are modest. Although it still exports some crude oil and until recently sold large quantities of natural gas to Chile, …

Oil, Coal, and Economic Development in Colombia

By Martin W. Lewis | August 26, 2015 | 3 Comments

Although Colombia is not usually classified as a major oil-producer, it ranks 19th in the world according to the Wikipedia, turning out more than a million barrels a day in late 2014. Although this figure was well below that of Venezuela (2.5 million barrels a day), it surpassed those of such well-known oil exporters as Oman and Azerbaijan. It is …

Short GeoCurrents Break, But First a Seemingly Impossible Rainfall Map

By Martin W. Lewis | July 29, 2015 | 2 Comments

(Note to readers: GeoCurrents will soon be taking a short summer break. Regular posting will resume in mid-August. But before the pause begins, I have one more post, which discusses the possibility of a seemingly impossible map. )
The map posted to the left appears to be bogus, as it depicts patterns that would seemingly not be found in nature. It …

Aysén Chile in Comparative Context

By Martin W. Lewis | July 24, 2015 | 3 Comments

To understand the physical geography and scale of Chile, it is useful to compare it to its North American counterpart, a region that extends in the north-south direction from southeastern Alaska to Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, and which is bounded to the east by highland crests. As I was not able to find any maps that made this comparison explicitly, …

Troubled Socotra – the “World’s Most Alien Place” – Seeks Autonomy

By Martin W. Lewis | July 12, 2015 | 5 Comments

Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago, dominated by the main island of the same name, is best known for its unique flora, with almost 700 species found nowhere else. Some of its plants have gained fame for their unusual forms, such as the dragon blood tree and the cucumber tree. Socotra’s millions of years of isolation, its complex geology, and its harsh climate …

Dhofar: The Other Arabia

By Martin W. Lewis | July 6, 2015 | One Comment

The Arabian Peninsula is a relatively coherent region, tied together by a number of common features. In terms of physical geography, it is noted for its harsh desert landscapes. Even the highlands of Yemen, which receive enough precipitation for rain-fed agriculture, are relatively dry, covered with vegetation that could hardly be described as lush. In terms of cultural geography, the …

Is the Earth Greening? If So, Where and Where Not

By Martin W. Lewis | June 30, 2015 | 4 Comments

Several important studies, based mostly on remote sensing, indicate that the world is gaining vegetation. According to Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, such “global greening” is “the most important ecological trend on Earth today. The biosphere on land is getting bigger, year by year, by 2 billion tons or even more.”
Such …

Cannabis Cultivation, Carbon Budgets, and the Promise of Biochar

By Martin W. Lewis | December 30, 2014 | 4 Comments

(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 | 2 Comments

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 | 3 Comments

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 …

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

By Martin W. Lewis | December 12, 2014 | 3 Comments

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 …

Does the Boko Haram Insurgency Stem from Environmental Degradation and Climate Change?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 5, 2014 | 9 Comments

Several attempts to explain the extreme violence of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria focus on resource scarcity, overpopulation, environmental degradation, and especially climate change. A recent article in The Guardian, for example, claims that:

Instability in Nigeria … has been growing steadily over the last decade — and one reason is climate change. In 2009, a UK Department for International Development …

Energy Issues in the Ukrainian Crisis

By Martin W. Lewis | March 27, 2014 | 4 Comments

Energy issues figure prominently in many discussions of the conflict in Ukraine. As is often noted, Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas gives Moscow significant leverage. Ukraine, moreover, is weakened by its own dependence on Russian energy, and its situation is complicated by the Russian natural gas pipelines that transverse its territory. Less often noted are Ukraine’s own significant gas …

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