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The Misleading Ecological Footprint Model

By Martin W. Lewis | November 23, 2010 |

The Happy Earth Index, discussed yesterday, relies on the ecological footprint to measure environmental sustainability. The footprint, widely regarded as “the world’s premier measure of humanity’s demand on nature,” is defined as “the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render

Beyond Economic Development: The So-Called Happy Planet Index

By Martin W. Lewis | November 22, 2010 | 2 Comments

Most measurements of development rely heavily on per capita economic output. While the U.N.’s Human Development Index (HDI) considers education and longevity as well, Gross National Income remains an essential component. The use of such economic data as a proxy for overall development is controversial. Some find it unduly materialistic, focusing on the raw production

The Human Development Index in Africa and Across the World

By Martin W. Lewis | November 18, 2010 | 2 Comments

The increasingly standard way to measure development is through the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite statistical tool devised by the United Nations Development Program. The HDI measures wealth and wellbeing across three axes: life expectancy, education, and income. The individual components are themselves involved; “education levels,” for example, are pegged according to a

The Developing World – And the De-Developing World

By Martin W. Lewis | November 17, 2010 | 5 Comments

The most common alternative to dividing the earth into a wealthy North and an impoverished South is to separate the developed world from the developing world. This representation avoids undue locational specificity, allowing equatorial and southern-hemisphere countries to be slotted into the economically advanced category without geographical infidelity. Finer levels of categorization are

There Is No Third World; There Is No Global South

By Martin W. Lewis | November 15, 2010 | 3 Comments

In the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, scholars divided the earth into three parts: the First World, the Second World, and the Third World. The reigning “three worlds theory,” however, was conceptually incoherent, combining incommensurate geopolitical and socio-economic features. The “First World” encompassed all industrialized, democratic countries, which were assumed to be allied with

The World of Baseball — and of Tim Lincecum

By Martin W. Lewis | November 12, 2010 | 5 Comments

The world map of major cricket-playing countries bears a close resemblance to the historical map of British imperial power. Does the map of baseball similarly follow the extension of American power abroad? A quick glance at the first map posted above shows that baseball’s domain is wide indeed, encompassing many countries that have

International Rivalries in Cricket

By Martin W. Lewis | November 11, 2010 | 2 Comments

“Pakistan as a country is in serious trouble. It has just experienced the worst flood in memory. It is dominated by conflicts between the US and the Taliban and Al Qaeda… Pakistanis need something to escape from the harsh realities of day-to-day life. They need friends, they need help – and they need cricket.” – Dean Jones

The Nations of Rugby; The World of Rugby

By Martin W. Lewis | November 10, 2010 | 7 Comments

The significance of sports in structuring modern geographical relations is underappreciated by scholars. People, men especially, tend to bond with places through their identification with athletic teams. Following sports also teaches geography; as teams travel, so do their fans, vicariously. Even matters of geopolitical import can be initiated on the playing field. In 1969, a brief war between Honduras and El Salvador –La guerra del fútbol – was sparked by a soccer contest.

Map of Landlocked Countries

By Martin W. Lewis | November 7, 2010 | 4 Comments

Many students are surprised at how few of the world’s sovereign states are landlocked, without access to the sea. The map above depicts the landlocked realm, leaving out the micro-states that cannot be seen at this scale of resolution. Luxemburg is visible on the map – although just barely – but Andorra, San Marino, and

The Surprising Geography of International Tourism

By Martin W. Lewis | October 27, 2010 |

International tourism can be a lucrative business, prompting competition for visitors’ dollars. But as the map posted above indicates, the global tourism market is geographically focused. Most border-crossing vacationers head for three broad regions: Europe and the eastern Mediterranean; an arc stretching from Tokyo to Singapore; and coastal cities of North America. Only three

Mapping U.S. Foreign Military Bases

By Martin W. Lewis | October 18, 2010 | 5 Comments

While I was lecturing the other week on the controversies surrounding U.S. military bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa, one of my students expressed astonishment at the existence of such facilities, wondering why they would be considered necessary. Although I am used to students questioning the wisdom maintaining foreign military bases, I

Mapping Islam: Bad and Good Efforts

By Martin W. Lewis | October 11, 2010 | 7 Comments

Mapping the distribution of religious groups is often a frustrating exercise. Good data on the numbers of adherents of any particular faith or sect, let alone the intensity of their beliefs, are often lacking, while the spatial intermingling of different religions presents formidable cartographic challenges. As a result, even the best maps of

The Census of Marine Life in Google Earth

By Martin W. Lewis | October 4, 2010 |

The Census of Marine Life, is the major international oceanographic research project involving researchers in over 80 countries, who tagged more than 120,000 types of species & millions of organisms over the past decade. The project is now revealing their findings for the 2010 calendar year. This has served to create the first world

The Parallel Paths of the Basque Country and Scotland

By Martin W. Lewis | September 7, 2010 | 6 Comments

The Basques are not a particularly numerous people, totaling only around two and half million in Spain and another 250,000 in France. But millions more in other countries trace their ancestry to the Basque homeland once known as Vasconia. Basques were disproportionally represented in the Spanish colonial enterprise, with large numbers crossing the Atlantic

The Peculiarities of Gibraltar and Other British Overseas Territories

By Martin W. Lewis | August 25, 2010 | 7 Comments

Gibraltar’s position as a British Overseas Territory makes it a geopolitical anomaly. Britain’s scattered overseas colonial remnants are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom but are not part of it*. Since the passage of the British Overseas Territories Act of 2002 their inhabitants have enjoyed full British citizenship, but they are not under

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