Our Changing World

World Money & Happiness

World Money & Happiness

This interesting map from FedEx takes an interesting Topological look at a variety of development statistics.  I like the Happiness Index and the fact that Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries in the world.  It might have something to do with the fact that it has no armed forces.  Having lived in San Jose and worked as a teacher there for a couple of years and had a truly amazing time, I can really agree with the idea of ‘Pura Vida’ which roughly translates as ‘Full of Life’.  The picture below is of a sloth on electrical lines in the beautiful village of Cahuita.  No link really but it reminds me so much of the laid back lifestyle!


How Big a Flood


Really like this new BBC website, How Big Really, which gives a sense of scale to the verbatim News Reports we both see and here on the news.  By entering your postcode you can get an idea of how big a natural disaster, environmental disaster, depths, etc,..  Worth checking out the How Many Really too



Hurricane Irene Sunset and weblinks


New York Sunset August 29 2011

This sunset photo following Hurricane Irene in New York City is beautiful.  Taken by Inga Sarda-Sorensen which I found through my Twitter Feed, it underlines the amazing combination of modern communication technology to embrace some truly incredible natural scenes.

Some Hurricane Irene Links:

  • Hurricane Irene has been tracked by Google Maps here 
  • An interesting comparison of Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Katrina here
  • National Hurricane Centre Irene here
  • Hurricane Irene NASA picture here and excellent detailed information here
  • Wikipedia Hurricane Irene here



Google Powered by Solar


I’d love to install Solar Panels on our house but unfortunately we’re not south facing and there isn’t the clear view of the sky we would need to make it economically viable.  I see that Google has decided to generate power in the Mojave desert using solar energy.  Using the concept of the magnifying glass and ant but taken to extreme where temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees can be achieved.  I really like the map above as it gives an indication of the size of the earth that would need to be covered to generate solar power for the entire world.  What a fantastic revenue for sub saharan African countries which could also help them to develop in a sustainable fashion.  More info here

Christchurch Earthquake Case Study 2011

New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake Location map

New Zealand Christchurch Earthquake Location map

Following the 7.0 on the Richter Scale earthquake of 2010, Christchurch, in New Zealand didn’t expect to receive a second significant earthquake within the space of a year.


At a depth of 5km (focus) of the earthquake occurred  2km west of the town of Lytteltonvery close to Christchurch, the second most populated city  in New Zealand with a population of 390,300. See google map here.

christchurch 2011 earthquake location

Christchurch 2011 earthquake location


Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 12:51:43 PM at epicentre.


Magnitude 6.3 on the Richter scale. See the USGS info here

The 2010 Christchurch despite being a higher order of magnitude earthquake at 7.1 on the Richter scale happened in the early hours of the morning at 4.35am which explains partly why there were no casualties as the central business district would have been empty with few people in high rise buildings.


The earthquake was part of the aftershock sequence of the M 7.0 September 3, 2010 Darfield, earthquake in New Zealand.

Thrust Fault

Thrust Fault

There is a thrust fault which is linked with the plate boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates which meets in the centre of South Island, New Zealand.

New Zealand plate tectonic map

New Zealand plate tectonic map


  • 181 dead (as of 3 May 2011)
  • 80% of the city had no electricity
  • Water supplies and sewage disposal badly disrupted
  • Road and bridges damaged
  • Liquefaction of the ground (solid ground is shaken so much that water rises quickly up and turns the ground into a liquid state
  • Many historic buildings damaged or destroyed
  • People trapped in rubble (this story really was interesting as I listened to her on the radio talking from her mobile phone whilst trapped under the rubble)

Sink holes and liquefaction on the roads  in Christchurch, New Zealand. 


Short Term

  • In the seconds, hours and days after the earthquake rescue and response was offered by ordinary people as well as the emergency services on duty
  • An emergency meeting Government Cabinet Meeting was held at 3pm. Read more here
  • The Canterbury Art Gallery which had been designed to be earthquake proof survived and was turned into a Emergency Response centre.  Read more here
  • Satellite Imagery was provided for emergency teams to help with allocation of aid and rescue from the US and France. See more here
  • 300 Australian police were flown in brining the number of the police to 1200
  • The police provided security cordons, organised evacuations, supported search and rescue teams, missing persons and family liaison, and organised media briefings and tours of the affected areas.

Medium Term

  • The Red Cross provided grants to families with children under 5 years of age who were living in significantly damaged homes caused by the September or February earthquakes, with their electricity bills. Read more here
  • The police coordinated forensic analysis and evidence gathering of fatalities  working closely with pathologists, forensic dentists and scientists.

Long Term



UK Freeze = Global Warming?

Mr PJ Snowman

Mr PJ Snowman

OK so my attempts at making snow people aren’t great but my Stasi hat bought at Checkpoint Charlie gives it a certain authoritative look.  Didn’t stop the local hoodlums from tormenting him and his carrot nose was last found in an inappropriate place.

So how can this cold weather be linked with the theory of global warming.  The problem with many of us is we tend tyo be very Eurocentric and our thinking doesn’t extend beyond our local area.  Fortunately we now have satellites that can provide a far more detailed view of our global temperatures.  By using the brilliant NASA temperature anomaly tool here we can examine temperatue differences across the globe.  A simple data input can give us the following summary map for the World.

Global Temperature Anomalies - November 2010

Global Temperature Anomalies - November 2010

As you can see the cooler blue sections over Scandinavia and the UK are dwarfed in size by the deep red over the remaining continental landmasses in the northern hemisphere, especially over northern Russia and North America.   The temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between two and ten degrees higher than usual. A graph by latitude shows the significant anomaly in the northern hemisphere.

Graph of temperature anomalies nov 2010

Graph of temperature anomalies nov 2010

According to NASA’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January-November since the global record began, 131 years ago. 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record.

Thank you the the excellent George Monbiot article here for making this all very clear and pointing out to the naysayers and bumpkin climate ‘experts’ that our climate is far greater than the picture of snowmen outside our windows!

5 years since Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina dogs

Hurricane Katrina dogs

I can’t believe it’s 5 years since Hurricane Katrina.  It was my first year as Head of Geography at Bodmin College and I remember that we’d already had the Boscastle Floods and the Asian Tsunami and later in the year the Kashmir Earthquake.  It was some year for geography case studies.  These brilliant pictures from the Boston Globereally portray the incredible scences during the hurricane event

Who should I Cheer for in the 2010 World Cup?


Who should I cheer for
This is a great website that looks at a whole range of development indicators to find out which football team to support in the World Cup 2010 .

Flood defence in the UK to cost £1billion


Great article from the Guardian here explaining how half a million houses in the UK will be at considerable flood risk.  The cost of defending them will be far less than the cost of dealing with the floods when they occur.  The cost benefit analysis has to be 5 times the cost of the defences.  Apparently the average cost of a burglary6 in the UK is £1000 whereas the average cost to a home following a flood is £20,000 – £30,000!

Which country do Premier League Football Players come from?


They say that football is a world game nowadays.  Whether it’s the global reach of the fans from around the world watching the football on TV or the huge range of countries that the players come from then it can be surely called the global game.  A great map here shows the location of Premiership Footballers according to the team they play for.

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