From our Geography Directions site reviewing Wiley-Blackwell’s Geography Compass review journal covering the entire discipline. Keep up with cutting edge academic geography. These articles may be useful for introducing students to the discipline or may be appropriate for upper division Geography classes.
by Fiona Ferbrache
In poignant ceremonies over the weekend, the US marked the tenth anniversary of, what have come to be known as, the 9/11 attacks (see Dalby, 2011:199 for a discussion of this numerical specification, rather than spatial context, of events) (McFadden, 2011).
The current issue of Geographical Journal (2011) is a themed edition entitled Ten years after: September 11th and its aftermath. It contains papers from an array of perspectives, designed to encourage reflection on changing geographies (geopolitics in particular) of the last decade, and contemporary reflections on the significance of the 9/11 event. This work is focused on the legacies of September 11th, in terms of how things have changed in the world, and how we conduct scholarly investigations around these changes.
Contributions to this special issue include commentaries on oil, border security, India-US relations, immigration enforcement, as well as contemporary artistic productions that have re-imagined processes of militarization and governmentalization. In the final paper of this set, Gregory critically discusses the geographical dimensions of wars that have played out in the shadow of September 11th. He focuses on three (what he terms as ambiguous) “global borderlands”; (i) Afghanistan – Pakistan, (ii) US – Mexico, and (iii) cyberspace. He suggests that together they comprise “a distinctly if not uniquelyAmerican way of war” (Gregory, 2011:240).
In a similar way to the weekend’s commemorations and media attention around the tenth anniversary, these papers offer a meaningful commentary of some of the ways in which the world that we know, has changed.
As outlined in a previous post, “Climate Change in the Pacific: Help we’re drowning,” Pacific islands are bearing the first clear environmental shifts of global climate change. Not only are the islands being threatened by rising sea levels, their territory and societies ‘drowning’ in the process; but, climate change is combining with other environmental conditions to jeopardize the essential fresh water sources that these insular societies depend on.
On October 2011, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu declared a national state of emergency. The emergency is that the country’s fresh water sources are running out and others are unfit for consumption. Some areas of the island were projected to completely run out of potable, fresh water within two days of the declaration. The conditions that led to the state of emergency are related to the longer term climate changes, but also to seasonal shifts. A seasonal, La Niña weather pattern has been causing drought in Tuvalu. Below-average rainfall has been experienced since June or at least and is projected to continue into December. Most of the country’s fresh water supply comes from collected rainwater. Another source of freshwater lies under the ground. Yet, this source is limited. Tuvalu is a series of low-lying coral atolls. The geology of coral atolls does not support deep groundwater sources. Further, the shallow groundwater that is found on these islands is being compromised by rising sea levels as salt water infiltrates the groundwater supply. A reporting of animals deaths leads Tuvaluan Red Cross officials to question the safety of the groundwater supply for consumption. Considering the nature of groundwater recharge, and most acute in Tuvalu, the lack of rainfall is accelerating the infiltration of seawater into subterranean water features. The impacts of water shortages are felt in the islands’ traditional subsistence agriculture activities as well as water rationing affecting basic water services. Tuvalu’s neighbor and New Zealand territory, Tokelau followed up soon after with its own state of emergency declaration.
The relief is coming from international organizations like the Red Cross as well as from the government of New Zealand. The people of Tuvalu and Tokelau are being aided with water collection supplies, desalinization units and plenty of bottled water. The larger affects are still yet to come. In particular, questions about the long-term settlement of many low-lying Pacific islands have implications for nationhood, cultural traditions, economic rights, and logistics of mass migration.