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Lecture Slides on Cannabis Legalization

By Martin W. Lewis | June 7, 2016 |

Dear Readers,
The slides from my final lecture of the academic year are available at the link below. The lecture examined the impending legalization of cannabis in California, as well as its status elsewhere in the world.
Cannabis Legalization

Lecture Slides for U.S. Primary Presidential Election, 2016

By Martin W. Lewis | May 31, 2016 |

Dear Readers,
The slides from my recent lecture on the U.S. primary presidential elections of 2016 are found at the link below:
2016 US Primary Election

The Regionalization of California, Part 2

By Martin W. Lewis | January 13, 2016 |

Today’s post continues and concludes the discussion of the county-level regionalization of California. We begin here with the Central Valley, one of the most distinctive aspects of the state’s physical geography. “Valley” is perhaps not the best term to describe this feature. I will never forget the words of Jung-man Lee, now a professor of geography at Seoul National University, …

The Regionalization of California, Part 1

By Martin W. Lewis | January 12, 2016 | 2 Comments

Like all US states—and indeed, virtually political units—California is divided into a number of informal and special-purpose regions. Regional designations in California are used ubiquitously in the media, in academic reports, and in everyday conversation. They are unavoidable and necessary. But as is generally the case with regionalization schemes, the numbers, names, and spatial outlines of California’s regions vary widely …

Surprising Patterns in Geography of Crime in California

By Martin W. Lewis | January 9, 2016 | 2 Comments

Mapping crime rates by county in California shows few easily explicable patterns. At first glance, the map of violent crime (which is unfortunately somewhat dated) appears almost random.

Using GC Customizable Maps in the Classroom: Population Density in California

By Martin W. Lewis | January 8, 2016 | 2 Comments

The customizable maps that GeoCurrents is releasing to the public have many potential classroom uses, as this post will seek to demonstrate. Manipulating such maps is a good way to learn some of the fundamental elements of cartography, and can be useful as well for gaining basic geographical knowledge. It is one thing to merely look at a map, and …

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

Customizable Maps of the United States, and U.S. Population Growth

By Martin W. Lewis | December 26, 2015 | 2 Comments

New sets of customizable maps of the United States are now available for download, in both PowerPoint and Keynote formats (see the end of this post). Three maps are included in each presentation-software set. The first simply has the outlines of the states, as well as the District of Columbia (note that Alaska and Hawaii are mapped out-of-scale and in …

The Changing Geography of Poverty in The United States

By Martin W. Lewis | September 11, 2015 |

In 2007, James B. Holt published an interesting article on “The Topography of Poverty in the United States” based on cartographic analysis (I have reproduced two of his maps here). His concluding map posits a “continental poverty divide,” with most areas of entrenched poverty found in the southeast and south-center and most areas of low poverty found in the northeast …

The Quixotic Campaign to Split New York State

By Martin W. Lewis | August 31, 2015 | 6 Comments

A new drive to divide the state of New York, separating the “Upstate” region from metropolitan New York City, is gaining visibility both within the state and nationally. On Sunday, August 30 a secession rally organized by more than a dozen groups was held in the town of Bainbridge (population 3,300) in New York’s Southern Tier, the movement’s core area. …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2014 | 6 Comments

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 | 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 …

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