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A review of some Human Geography stories from EUROGEO News 2014
A review of some Human Geography stories from EUROGEO News 2014
News Stories from Europe in 2014
In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. In this blog, posts from European news, research and policy is reviewed.
2014 was the year of EU elections and a controversy over passports. Elections for the European Parliament took place in the summer and the geographical distribution and voting outcomes were shown in the map of Europe’s voting patterns and the results of the European Parliament elections 2014.
At the start of the year it was revealed that the Maltese government was offering EU passports for sale. In this revelation, Malta planned to sell 1,800 passports for €650,000 each, before closing down this programme. Eventually, the Maltese Government was forced to give way in the face of strong European Union criticism, agreeing to require one year of residency for foreigners buying Maltese passports.
The year was one of European citizen empowerment as EU citizens forced a water debate onto agenda. This was achieved through the European citizens’ initiative which allows millions of EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal.
Increasing citizen engagement was featured as the Green paper on Citizen Science for Europe was released Towards a society of empowered citizens & enhanced research.
The development of EU geo-clusters for energy was in the news, as they were said to play a key role in fostering innovation for energy efficient buildings. The energy campaign is being backed across Europe when it was announced that one thousand European cities were backing 2030 energy efficiency target.
A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. The term was introduced by Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990). The “Geo-clusters” are virtual trans-national areas where strong similarities are found (i.e. climate, culture and behaviour, construction typologies, economy, energy price and policies and gross domestic product).
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia sparked issues about the selection of of the venue (Why the site of the Olympics is not in the Alps?) and raised suggestions that the Alps will never again be able to host the Winter Olympic Games (Ten arguments against the Olympics in the Alps).
In terms of policy making, the Environmental Union considers climate change, where Europe still aspires to global leadership.
The European Parliament voted for stronger climate targets and there was hope that EU climate and energy policy would be better integrated as a result of the policy recommendations from the project “climate policy integration into EU energy policy”.
European expansion was on the agenda as Montenegro’s future place in Europe and Ukrainians must beware of what joining Europe could actually mean were considered.
Europe still remains internally divided for instance on the island of Cyprus, where hope was growing for the seaside town of Varosha, the tourist resort abandoned in 1974.
The resource 38 Maps that explain Europe illustrates the dramatic changes that have taken place across the continent and the transformations which are still ongoing.
The list of European stories from the EUROGEO e-newsletter is available at http://www.eurogeography.eu/eurogeo-newsletter/news-2014-europe.html
50 Climate Change News Stories from 2014
In 2014, EUROGEO (the European Association of Geographers) completed 35 years of operation. This is the latest of a series of blog posts celebrating this anniversary by looking back at 2014 from the posts in the monthly newsletter of the association. In this blog, news from the world of Climate Change research and policy is considered. Subscribe to the EUROGEO newsletter
Do you believe in climate change or are you a sceptic? What influences our opinions? An interesting New Zealand study found geography was important as people living near the coast are more likely to believe in climate change.
The ongoing anti-science campaign continued to suggest research confirming our planet is warming is a hoax. The Blog Yes, the planet is still getting warmer and pretending it isn’t can be expensive dealt with latest claims in the light of recent research publications.
In Europe one emphasis of the Horizon 2020 programme has been to consider “What’s causing climate change?“. The impacts of climate change are assessed in the Climate for Culture Project in terms of cultural and heritage assets in Europe. Some nations like Denmark have indicated tougher actions are necessary for tougher 2030 climate and clean energy goals.
Leading scientists continue to confirm the climate challenges we need to meet, for instance High Climate Sensitivity reported on a study by climate scientist James Hansen. His findings were i) the Earth’s was likely to warm by more than 3–4°C as a result of CO2 levels increasing to 550 ppm; action is vital as CO2 levels continue to increase and iii) burning all fossil fuels would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans, thus calling into question strategies that emphasize adaptation to climate change.
It is increasingly clear that solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change are needed as economic perspectives force a rethink of policies around the world. This message was at the centre of the peer-reviewed findings of research into climate change economic modelling were published. In Climate change will ‘cost world far more than estimated, the financial damage caused by global warming will be considerably greater than current models predict.
There were developments in grassroots solutions to climate change as Indonesian indigenous groups fight climate change with GPS. The Seed of Knowledge publication provided 24 lessons learned from 17 countries on grassroots solutions to the impacts of climate change Grassroots climate change solutions. The potential of crowdsourcing is central to the Climate CoLab initiative at the Center for Collective Intelligence, MIT featured in How Millions of People Can Help Solve Climate Change. As warnings of global climate change grew, the Guardian provided 10 tips on how to prepare for an apocalyptic future in Climate change: a survivors’ guide.
The debate whether geo-engineering can provide answers to climate change issues was raised in Climate Science: can geo-engineering save the world? Basically, the controversial question discussed is whether people can artificially control the Earth’s climate allowing us to manage temperature and avoid negative impacts of climate change? This is very controversial approach as theory.
At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 20) in Lima, the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative celebrated winning climate solution projects, including new climate finance in Latin America, climate-friendly homes in Africa, and automated flood detection systems in the Himalayan foothills in potentially innovative and transformative solutions to address climate change.
The best climate change resource featured during 2014 was the Lancelot Web application which allows users to Explore Climate Data interactive map Lancelot was designed and produced by the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) to provide a highly interactive visualization of climate data on maps for many different audiences. It allows the user to select indicators and explore both historical and future projections of climate data.
2014 was a year of meetings, momentum movements, summits and conferences, where politicians, scientists and non-profits have interacted. Equality was a key message at the U.N. Climate Summit in September as Global Leaders Highlight Actions Needed to Achieve Climate Justice.
The work of critical geographers started to raising awareness of the security implications of climate change in ‘Governing from Above: Vertical geopolitics of climate change’.
Finally it is worth considering what has actually been achieved. In Mapping climate communication, Joanna Boehnert has attempted to visually connect the role of different organisations over two decades of climate communication, where agencies involved are classified either according to their tendency to deny or to acknowledge climate change or else they are involved in the production of climate science itself.
At the end of the day, How to rebuild trust at UN climate change talks? suggests at the Paris climate summit in 2015, countries will need to do more than just say what they are doing. To achieve a successful outcome, countries should be held accountable for doing what they say.
The list of Climate Change stories is available at http://eurogeography.eu/eurogeo-newsletter/news-2014-climate.html