Do we really live longer than our ancestors?

The wonders of modern medicine and nutrition make it easy to believe we enjoy longer lives than at any time in human history, but we may not be that special after all.” SOURCE: BBC

This BBC article explores many of our assumptions about demographic issues before statistics were recorded.  This article especially looks at the notion that our life span has been increasing throughout history.  This would be a good article to get some background information about stage 1 of the demographic transition.  In a nutshell, the article’s premise is that just because life expectancy is increasing, it does not mean that our lifespan is the main reason.  The main reason life expectancy has improved is that more children are surviving their early years not because we have extended the lifespan of elderly so much.

GeoEd Tags: medical, population, statistics, mortality.

Geography and the Coronavirus

APRIL 6
GIS Dashboard screengrab from April 6th

There are far too many geographic issues that stem out of the Coronavirus pandemic to create anything close to comprehensive, but I wanted to share some of the articles that caught my eye recently because they touch on particularly geographic themes.  So, this will not give a global overview, predictions, or breaking news, but some of the underlying issues and questions that we are now grappling with as so many are now in some form of self-isolation.

MAPPING: The best, introductory-level walk-through of how to map the Coronavirus uses ArcGIS online, and has interactive layers that are updated daily, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel for every time new data gets released.  If students are familiar with ArcGIS and already have an account, this is worth having them explore it to learn cartographic techniques.

ENVIRONMENT: There are a host of unintended consequences in natural systems, and when one part of the system, gets altered, there are some down-stream impacts.  This article in the Atlantic discusses some of the environmental impacts of the mass shutdown of normal human activities (1-less pollution, 2-less seismic activity, 3-quiter urban environments).

DEVELOPMENT: The impacts of COVID-19 are clearly uneven; countries and cities that are the most globally connected might benefit usually economically from these connections, but are facing one of the times that this connectivity is a threat to the community.  India, by and large through March 2020, managed to avoid making global headlines, but as the world’s second largest population with some incredibly dense megacities, many are asking how the Coronavirus will impact India in the coming weeks.

URBANIZATION: In the United States, the densest counties have been the most impacted by COVID-19 while rural areas have need been as heavily impacted (by and large—rural counties with ski resorts are one prominent exception to this generalization).  Some are discussing urban density in the time of a pandemic, and there are calls to rethink densely populated cities.  This article from CityLab also discusses the density as a key issue in the transmission of disease, but it is quick to point out other factors that lead some hyper-dense cities to effectively control the spread as well.

CULTURE: To wear a mask, or to not wear a mask?  Why is this a question that seems so controversial?  As more time goes by, we see that wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a disease is not just a medical issue, but also a cultural issue.  Some cultures are uncomfortable with the idea of covering part of face in public and some react against the concept because of the cultural connotations that go along with mask-wearing.  Other societies see if as a prudent way to do your civic duty.  Many are reconsidering their cultural norms that they associate with masks as COVID-19 continues to expand into more communities.

DIFFUSION: This video centers on the beginnings of the spread of the Coronavirus and the origins in Wuhan.  I’m very sensitive to the fact that many discussions about its origin in China can quickly go down some racist paths.  This Vox video explains the wet markets of China as a likely source of infectious disease without veering into racist assumptions.  This interactive from the NY Times explains how the disease spread beyond China.

Stay healthy, stay safe.  I miss other humans, and being social.  I think everyone wishes things were different, but geography and spatial analysis is one of the key lenses that we need to come out on the other end of this.  I hope that we can come out of this more united as members of the human race with a greater resolve to work together to solve global issues.

GeoEd Tags: medical, mapping, GIS, statistics, mortality.

Tools for Student Projects

In many geography classes, teachers will assign students a country to help them gain some depth about one particular country as a way to explore economic, demographic, cultural, political, and environmental issues.  These are some data visualization tools that deals with big data; the listed tools are some of my favorite in part because they can easily to incorporated to an ArcGIS StoryMap (especially in the Map Journal template).

  1. Economic (introductory data): Dollar Street from Gapminder

The best comparison and the most relatable thing for students to see in other countries is real people, leading regular lives.  Dollar Street brings the economic realities of other places without some of the of the negative stereotypes or romanticizing far-away places.

DollarStreet

  1. Economic (advanced data): Observation of Economic Complexity

Understanding global trade and economic data can feel overwhelming, but fortunately there are online tools that help us to visualize complex economic data. The “VISUALIZATIONS” are my favorite things to see on this site.  The Observation of Economic Complexity is MIT’s companion website to the Atlas of Economic Complexity (Harvard’s version of the same data visualization–here is my tutorial on how to use the Atlas of Economic Complexity).

OEC

 

  1. Demographic (introductory data): Population Pyramid

Populationpyramid.net creates interactive, population pyramids that can be downloaded as image with the raw data also available for download.  Simple, powerful, easy.

Nepal PP

  1. Demographic (advanced data): Gapminder Tools

Gapminder is a tremendous resource that I’ve shared in the past and total fertility rates is an ideal metric to see in this data visualization tool.  This is one of the best ways to visualize global statistics.  The world is changing–see how.

GapminderTools