Thursday, 28 February 2008

Sales of factory-farmed chickens have slumped since a high-profile campaign raised awareness of the cruelty at the heart of the poultry industry. Sales of free-range poultry shot up by 35 per cent last month.Fearnley-Whittingstall intends to produce a new television show on chickens later this year, updating viewers on the campaign and urging more people to join what he hopes will turn into a free-range revolution. Read about the life of a battery chicken here.

China considers ending one-child policy

China could scrap its one-child policy, a senior family planning official said today, acknowledging concerns about its effects in creating an ageing society and gender gap. While there is no prospect of controls being thrown out overnight, changes could be rolled out region-by-region, or introduced for particular kinds of households. Concessions already exist allowing people in their second marriage to have another baby if their spouse has none, and permitting couples without any siblings to have two children. It already has 118 male births for every 100 female; way above the global "normal" ratio of between 103 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.The government is rolling out a scheme to encourage families to value girls by introducing special social and economic benefits for them.The enforcement system is far less punitive than in the 80s and early 90s, but families that exceed the official limits face fines or "compensation fees". These can be punitive for poorer families – which can face the confiscation of property if they fail to pay - but almost insignificant for the wealthy. That has spawned resentment that a good income can even affect a household's ability to have children. Read the whole article here. and here.

Sad Plastic

Marks and Spencer will charge food customers 5p for every plastic carrier bag they use, the chain announced today. The charge is aimed at reducing demand for the bags, which campaigners say damage the environment. Around 13bn plastic bags are given out free to UK shoppers every year and take 1,000 years to decay. Read here

Billions of plastic bags contribute to waste each year. From useful to used up, follow the sad life cycle of the plastic bag. Also news from Marks and Spencer Chief executive on why the store is to begin charging its food shoppers 5p for carrier bags.
Watch the videos here and one here on M and S decision to charge for bags.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Earthquake felt across much of UK

The biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years has shaken homes across large parts of the country. The epicentre of the 5.2 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. “It felt like the roof was going to fall in. There were people coming out in their dressing gowns wondering what it was. It was quite an experience." There was slight structural damage, cracks and a couple of chimneys damaged. Dr Brian Baptie, of the BGS, said: "An earthquake of this size, of magnitude five or thereabouts, will occur roughly every 10 to 20 years in the UK.
April 2007 - Folkestone, Kent (magnitude 4.3)
December 2006 - Dumfries and Galloway (3.5)
September 2002 - Dudley, West Midlands (5.0)
October 2001 - Melton Mowbray (4.1)
September 2000 - Warwick (4.2)
April 1990 - Bishop's Castle, Shropshire (5.1)
July 1984 - Nefyn, north Wales (5.4)
June 1931 - in North Sea near Great Yarmouth (6.1)
There is a huge amount of information on the BBC site here including good stuff on how earthquakes happen.
Happy reading! See the BBC site here .

Watch these videos too if you can. Video1, video2, video3.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Save the Children Campaign

Saving children's lives is simple, according to Save the Children's advert. This is an example of effective Primary Health Care. The charity reveals that to help a child make it to their fifth birthday could be as easy as providing a £5 mosquito net or £1 rehydration salts to help a child recover from diarrhoea. Over the next few months Save the Children will introduce lots of simple ways of saving a life, to help families interact with the charity's work around the world.
"This is just the start of a three-year campaign to save children's lives. We will be using technology allowing families to get involved and show the world just how simple it is to save a child's life." One way is below. Click the diagram above for a link to the charity's site.
Mosquito nets
Pyrethroid treated mosquito nets protect children at risk from malaria.
A simple net stops a mosquito from biting children while they sleep, infecting them with malaria and invading red blood cells with parasites. Malaria is one of the five major causes of death in emergency situations.
£5 buys one net
£21 buys five nets
Here's another example.

Tsunami Warning in Indonesia

Indonesia issued a tsunami warning today after a powerful earthquake struck off the western coast of Sumatra island.
The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 and had the "potential to cause a tsunami".
A giant earthquake along the same coast spawned the large tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a number of countries in December 2004.
Read here

Urban Street patterns

Got this from another blog –link here showing cities around the world. Look for the grid iron of New York as well as the unplanned urban morphology of Rome. Want to learn to drive in Rome? Cool stuff!

The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan

The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States. About one-fifth of the junk – which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and carrier bags – is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from land. It is not detectable in satellite photographs. You only see it from the bows of ships. The slowly rotating mass of rubbish-laden water poses a risk to human health.
Read the rest of the article here.
Not a bad one for the 500th post.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Higher Atmosphere Revision

Goos site here folks explaining a lot about this section. You need to spend some time reading these and understanding themand then try some past papers. We don't know if this will be a compulsory question this year or not. You can't afford to ignore it and now is the time to start.

Geography Quizzes/ Games

Several sites here for you to waste some time on - sorry learn some Geography!
Test your knowledge of countries and capitals

Nice one here on country facts and figures. Good for investigations for S2.

Look at this one for some strange maps of the world

Highest, lowest, smallest, biggest

Coasts S1

In the coastal section there is short youtube video below about Old Harry. Good for S1 to look at.

Out of Town Shopping Summarised

Out of town shopping revision for Higher and Int 2 NABs
Good stuff here on out of town shopping centres from Rob Chambers. Fab for Int 2 Urban revision and Higher as well. I know these are English case Studies but exactly the same rules apply to us.

Polluted oceans

Almost half of the oceans have been badly damaged by humanity and no region has been left untouched, the first global map of Man’s impact on marine ecosystems has revealed.
The ambitious project to chart the changing ocean environment shows that Man has exacted a much heavier toll on the seas through fishing, pollution and climate change than had been thought.
In many regions the effects of these are combined with pollution, particularly run-off of fertilisers from agricultural land and invasive alien species that are often introduced in the ballast tanks of ships. Link here.

Organic food 'is no healthier'

Consumers who pay extra for organic produce and so-called 'superfoods' are being misled by claims that they are healthier than ordinary foods, according to leading scientists. But the Soil Association, which promotes organic food, insists that organic products are healthier. One of the directors, said: "In November a study showed a significant reduction in the incidence of eczema in children fed organic dairy products."
Read more here and make up your own mind.

Fairtrade fails to tackle poverty. Is the small farmer missing out?

A report by the Adam Smith Institute claims Fairtrade products do not help long-term development and often fail to help at all. It claims that paying farmers for their produce sustains uncompetitive farming methods rather than encouraging modern techniques. The institute also says the payment structures put in place by the Fairtrade Foundation, which operates the Fairtrade label, unintentionally encourage farms in developing countries to take on labourers only during harvest time rather than employing them full-time. Fairtrade is one of the ­fastest-growing sectors in Britain. More than 3,000 products are Fairtrade-certified including coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, vegetables and cotton. Make up your own mind by reading these articles here.

Mobile Phones

This is rather a long article which is summarised here but it is really scary to think about the components of your mobile and then where the old ones eventually end up. Try to read through this one if you can or take it in several small chunks. Good for S3 as revision before the tests.
There is one mobile phone for every three people on the planet. Even in the poorest countries they are everywhere, because the landline systems are usually hopeless and the housing so poor that people spend as little time as possible at home. In 2006 in Tanzania, where average income is just $560 a head, there are more signs advertising top-up cards than anything else! About half the weight of a typical mobile phone is the casing, which is made of moulded plastic with a little added iron and aluminium. The plastic contains small amounts of phthalates, chemicals that are used to soften the plastic. High doses of phthalates are thought to damage hormonal systems. Another quarter of the phone's weight is wiring and the circuit board. These are mostly made of copper but also contain magnesium, tin solder and small amounts of gold, as well as arsenic, chromium and beryllium, which can produce poisinous dust during manufacture and recycling. The circuit board is also likely to contain brominated flame retardants, which prevent your phone bursting into flames, but may produce dioxins if the phone is one day incinerated (burnt). Then there are cobalt, lithium and carbon in the battery, silver in the keyboard and tantalum in the capacitors.
A typical mobile phone weighs only about 75g, but requires the mining of 30kg of rock. In addition, manufacturing the chips requires several hundred litres of water, and the energy from burning several tens of fossil fuels.
Most mobiles are discarded within two years - that's 15 million every year in Britain. The value of metal in an individual phone is probably only a few pence. That's why most phones end up in landfill. All that copper, silver, gold and tantalum wasted. All that arsenic, antimony, lead and other toxins leaking poisons into the ground. So what is better? Recycling seemed the obvious one. The new European directive on electronic waste, called the WEEE directive, stresses that the materials get recycled, but much of this seems to be carried out illegally and dangerously in China and India. In any case, why not prolong the life of the phone itself? Find someone else who wants it? Is it really that easy?

Plastic bags made into eco clothes

Sainsbury's has designed a fashionable way to get rid of plastic packaging - by turning it into clothes. The supermarket will sell a collection of clothes made from recycled plastic, thrown out by stores or collected from its recycling bins, using things such as soft drink bottles, fruit and vegetable packaging. The shirts, trousers and skirts will go on sale at up to half the group's 500 stores later this year. The clothes will be manufactured in Europe to save on transport emissions and costs. Sainsbury's, which has promised that all cotton clothes will be Fair Trade and is also planning more organic lines joining 'eco' fashion from Marks & Spencer, H&M and Next, who sell organic and Fair Trade clothes. Link here.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Plastic bags around the world

Just a little more about this international issue. Find out what China is planning and some other countries. Link here.

Biofuels move forward

Climate change talks in Brazil ended without a deal on carbon emissions, but progress was made on biofuels. Watch here.

Estonias waterfall

Freezing temperatures in Estonia have turned the country's famous Valaste waterfall, into stunning ice sculptures. Look at the pics here.

Car-sharing cameras tests

A new generation of road camera which can deduce how many people are in a car is to be tested for the first time. It will initially be used to monitor car-sharing lanes in Leeds. What is the situation in Leeds?
Four out of five cars driving into cities at rush hour only have one person in them.
The government believes encouraging people to share journeys will help combat congestion. Car sharing lanes are already in operation in cities such as Birmingham and Leeds.
In Birmingham only cars carrying at least two people, are allowed to join motorbikes and cycles in using the lane, in a bid to ease congestion into the city centre.
High occupancy vehicle lanes can be part of that because they certainly encourage car sharing. It also contributes to improving the environment and can cut the cost of travelling as well.
Great stuff for Higher and Int 2 Urban transport case studies. Use these in answers and you can pick up lots of marks.
Read the articles here and here on this. Watch the video here too.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2008

Fairtrade Fortnight 2008
25 February - 9 March
Tate & Lyle sugar to be Fairtrade
Tate & Lyle sugar sold in shops is to be Fairtrade making it the biggest UK firm to do this. To earn a Fairtrade label, firms must pay local producers a fair price, and invest further to improve working conditions and local sustainability. Tate & Lyle's move coincides with Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK from 25 February to 11 March which aims to raise awareness. There has been an increase in the number of UK retailers stocking Fairtrade products, such as bananas, coffee and flowers, including Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer.
Look also at the Fairtrade site here

Life in an Asian Slum

Have a look at this site to help you revise the population section / development and health. Make sure you read all the viewpoints and not just the title page. Good stuff for exam case studies! Look at the panoramic pictures as well. Look at this site for revision of the growth of cities. Move the sliding bar along the bottom to see how the population has changed in different parts of the world from 1955 to a projected figure for 2015. Watch Asia in the bar graph also!
Great page also here from the BBC and here and here. Is this enough to keep you busy at the moment?

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Coastal Geography

This video shows some good examples of coastal erosion.
Coastal Erosion - the quiet crisis

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Is this you?

Unless it is THIS blog of course!

Geography in Film

Jumper is a new film which tells us that the main character can teleport himself to anywhere in the world. The link here tells you about the film and the Youtube video below shows us about what this has to do with geography. Where would you go to right now if you could teleport? I'll see you on that beach in Barbados!
Thanks to the KES school Geography dept in Norfolk (I think) for highlighting this one.

Is this the answer to car pollution?

A car that runs on air and releases no pollutants into the air could be on sale in India later this year.
The fibreglass OneCAT weighs only 350kg and is expected to cost about £2,500. The technology is backed by Tata, the Indian company that last month unveiled the world’s cheapest car, the £1,250 Nano.
Refuelling involves topping up on compressed air. In a couple of minutes - and at a cost of as little as £1 - the vehicle is ready to travel another 125 to 185 miles. Read more here.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Cadbury thinks out of the box with 'eco-egg'

Cadbury Schweppes, which makes half of Britain's Easter eggs, is trialling an unboxed "eco-egg" so called as they are only packaged in foil rather than in the usual elaborate plastic and cardboard boxes. The Treasure Egg, which is the official name of the 'eco-egg', comes with a choice of three different contents: Mini Eggs, Mini Dairy Milks and Mini Caramel Chocolates. They will all be packaged in 20 % less packaging than the standard Cadbury Easter eggs. Cadbury's will also reduce Easter egg packaging in general, which means that the choc company should save 1,130 tonnes of packaging this Easter. Is this perfect? No - What about using some organic ingredients? Using recycled packaging? Encouraging chocolate egg eaters to recycle the foil? Also, the company is continuing with its plans to close its Somerdale Chocolate factory and export the work to Poland. The plan will add 7 million extra food miles to products such as Fudge, Crunchie, Curly Wurly, Milk Tray and Fry's Turkish delight. 98% of chocolate made at the Somerdale factory is consumed within the UK. Currently it takes just six hours for a chocolate bar to be made at Somerdale, transported and then made available for sale. Does this mean Cadburys have egg on their faces? Sorry! Link here. and the BBC article here.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Scot smashes world cycle record

Mark Beaumont, from Fife, completed the journey in 195 days. Read the BBC article here and see the trip highlights video here

This site is also great to follow his journey and has lots of links to stories and videos. Why did he end up in jail and where was he mugged? Where was he forced off the road by large lorries?

Geography teacher from Dundee Val Vannet has blogged all the way with Mark outlining some fantastic geography of all the places he cycled through. Link to the blog here.

There is no winter in the UK any more

Climate change is expected to bring winters that are both milder and wetter to Scotland. THE age-old signs of spring, which does not officially arrive until the Equinox on 20 March, are beginning to sprout months earlier than the norm. Many flowers are already in bloom. What do you think? Read the rest here.

Is this related too?
Only February and the hayfever season is already upon us.Superdrug confirmed remedy sales have risen by a quarter over the past few weeks. And Boots has seen a 24 per cent rise – with sales of some particular brands nearly doubling. Boots pharmacist Sarah Cameron said: "It's earlier than in previous years."

Malaria kills more people - and far, far more kids - than Aids!

Trial and error - the war on malaria
Malaria invades 500m people a year and kills as many every day as al-Qaeda did in New York on 11 September 2001 in the Twin Towers attack. More than 90 per cent of the disease's 1m annual victims die in Africa, the vast majority of them under the age of five.
Read about Pedro Alonso, a Spanish doctor who has conducted remarkably successful initial trials in Mozambique over the past five years and who has spent his career working on malaria all over Africa. This is the funding provided by the Bill and Melinds Gates Foundation in action. But the latest and best drug is Coartem. This combines a natural product derived from the Artemisin plant, originally found in China, with a chemical compound. Yet we know that at any moment we will be surprised, that the parasite will have come up with a defence and that we will have to find a new weapon. If we fall asleep, the enemy will be at our door.' 'One of our greatest enemies is ignorance. One big problem is people's belief in traditional healers, who tell them the illness is a sort of curse created by a djinni, or ghost, that only they are able to address. By the time the convulsions set in, and it is now clear to the parents of a sick child that the traditional cures have not worked, it is often too late,'Logistics also means getting the drugs and, critically in recent years, mosquito bednets to outlying areas where roads are practically non-existent. The emergence of increasingly efficient, washable, insecticide-treated bednets - the fruit of extensive research done in part by Pedro Alonso in the Nineties - has had a big impact in reducing malaria deaths.
What African poverty means,is that parents are often confronted with a desperate choice. 'If you live far from a town and your child falls sick in a season when a subsistence farming family must sow the fields. 'Do you take the child on a trip to a health centre that costs you a lot of money , and takes up one or two days there and back, knowing that by so doing you leave the fields unsown and the family hungry? Or do you leave the child to die?' This is reality!
This is a long article but it is excellent and revises the current situation beautifully. Take your time and persevere reading it, even over a few attempts or print it out and use the names and the final exam – impress the markers! Click the photo for the article.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

More serious revision site

Revision site
Some useful stuff here but beware as this is geared up for GCSE in England it isn’t quite ideal for us. Perhaps a wee change from Scalloway and Bitesize though. Good to dip into nevertheless. Make sure you are using the GCSE tab. Higher can use this site too but you should click the A level tab. They go into things in a bit more detail than we do so don’t freak too much.

Revision for S3 exams and S4

Wee reminder of grocery store wars! Revision of farming for S4? Not really but good for a laugh anyway!

Not sure if this will put anyone off fast food or eating meat, but again just for a laugh. Sorry!

Daft one here for revision too about chemicals in the environment. Message is OK though.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Classic Winter anticyclone –not quite

February 2008 Anticyclone. 6am

This week has been a lot milder than we might expect at this time of year but the maps do show a typical anticyclone. Look at the low temperatures in the morning and the warmer temperatures during the day. This is , of course a result of the clear skies. The isobars are far apart and the wind moves round this system in a clockwise manner. For more revision see the Scalloway site here or BBC Bitesize here. Good revision for S3 and S4. Remember to look at the other section of these sites too.
The weather summary is shown here.
United Kingdom Outlook
Tuesday nightClear and cold with another frost forming fairly quickly after sunset. Fog patches will also again develop and become dense, especially in eastern England.
WednesdayFoggy and frosty at first. Most places will brighten up with good sunny periods and once again it will be mild. Some parts of eastern England and eastern Scotland are expected to remain rather grey and chilly.

Insect explosion 'a threat to food crops'

Food crops could be ruined this century by an explosion in the numbers of insect pests caused by rising global temperatures. In addition to migration from tropical regions, the scientists believe that insects had to eat more because the rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. Read the article here.

Global warming in the UK

More heatwaves in the south, more disease but not a lot of malaria. Lets not even start to discuss flooding – remember summer of 2007 in England? Wow what a happy picture I’m painting! See what you think about this article

From mining to golf course

Good example here of industrial change and the resulting changing landscape. Good revision for Higher.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Pros and Cons of biofuels

Biofuel demand leading to human rights abuses, report claims
EU politicians should reject targets for expanding the use of biofuels because the demand for palm oil is leading to human rights abuses in Indonesia, an environmental groups claimed today.
A new report, said that increasing demands for palm oil for food and biofuels was causing millions of hectares of forests to be cleared for plantations and destroying the livelihoods of indigenous peoples.
Good one to read Lizzie! Look at the links at the bottom of the page too. Click photo for link.

European Countries

Try this European countries game. Watch your time though and type fast. Hope you did better than me!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

E Day

Britons are being asked to "leave it off" later this month, to show that cutting home energy use can have an impact on climate change.
During E-Day, which begins on 27 February, people will be asked to switch off electrical items not in use. Read the rest here and see what you can do.

Biofuels make climate change worse, scientific study concludes.

Growing crops to make biofuels results in vast amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and does nothing to stop climate change or global warming, according to the first thorough scientific audit of a biofuel's carbon budget.
Scientists have produced damning evidence to suggest that biofuels could be one of the biggest environmental con-tricks because they actually make global warming worse by adding to the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide that they are supposed to curb.
Read the rest here

What is The Tropic of Capricorn?

A new four-part series for BBC Two, Tropic of Capricorn, charts a 20,000 mile-journey around the world. Capricorn is the southern one, whereas the Tropic of Cancer lies to the north.
Capricorn cuts through South America, Southern Africa and Australia, as well as thousands of miles of empty ocean. But what is it?
Look at this page first and then watch a few of the videos if you can. Watch the TV programme as well It is on over the next few weeks. Watch out for the one where he eats penis soup. Yes you read that one correctly!
Namibia to Botswana
Simon sees the spectacular sandy desert in Namibia and meets the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana.
South Africa to Madagascar
Simon discovers giant rats clearing landmines in Mozambique and eats zebu penis soup in Madagascar.
SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2008- Australia
Simon spots whales migrating South to Antarctica and meets Aboriginal communties living beside Uluru.
SUNDAY 2 MARCH 2008- Chile to Brazil
Simon explores Chile's Atacama Desert and goes hunting with the Wichi community in Argentina.
Look at this site for more info and videos. All are on BBC2. A lot of geography and a bit of biology too.

Response to the great Global Warming Swindle

Two extreme viewpoints here and here. Good background reading for Higher and possible Issue topic for adv Higher. Some nice responses to the programme here.

Polluting lorries unwelcome in London

Article here about how planners are tackling the capitals problems. Having been there last week I don’t think it has had much of an impact yet!

Plastic in the sea

It is estimated that much of the plastic rubbish that fell into the sea 50 years ago is still there today, either floating in the huge circulating "gyres" of the Pacific or sitting on the seabed waiting to be gobbled up by a passing sea creature.
It is estimated that the amount of plastic we are consuming will continue to grow.
There is a massive area of circulating rubbish in the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the coast of California to Japan. Around 100 million tons of floating, mostly plastic, debris bobs just below the surface of the waters, covering an area twice the size of the continental United States. But modern plastics take hundreds of years to disintegrate.
As Mario Rodriguez of Greenpeace says: "We have to understand the sea is not a tip; it will constantly return to us what we throw in."
The solution should be obvious.
Find out the solution here.