Climate Change piece: gradually then suddenly

An interesting piece by Brigid Delaney in The Guardian on Sydney's haze from wildfires, and the growing evidence of climate change. It's also rather terrifying when combined with the apocalyptic pictures taken on the beach of people sheltering from the Mallacoota fire.

Ernest Hemingway had this famous line from his 1929 book The Sun Also Rises, which speaks to me of where things washed up in 2019: “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

2019 is the year of suddenly. Many of us were shaken awake from our cognitive dissonance this year as our weather patterns and climate conditions become ever more extreme. When wine turns to ash in your mouth, you can’t deny the new reality anymore.

GeoCapabilities - a review of Richard Bustin's book

Richard Bustin's book has been out for some time now, and I've finally got round to posting my review of the book, which is essential reading for geographers.

A voyage to follow...

I'm going to be following the journey of Holly Griffin over the next few weeks.

Holly is part of a team of people who left Japan on the 29th of December, heading for Palau.
Follow @unepwcmc and @aviewtosea and @JAMSTEC_PR to find out more.

Christmas blogging break

As usual, I'm going to take a break for a week or so over Christmas unless something significant happens. Thanks for reading the blog this year. 
I will be back at the end of the year to let you know what I'm planning for 2020.
Here's a suitably festive image from the great Ronald Lampitt...

Image result for lampitt ronald

Expo 2020 and Gapminder

Expo 2020 opens in Dubai in October 2020.

One of the exhibits, in the Sweden pavilion, is being produced by Gapminder. 
It is apparently going to be planned to flip the worldview of visitors. This is exciting as it connects with the work we have been doing with students. Ola Rosling and the team are already preparing their inputs.

Coldplay pause their touring

For many years now Coldplay has been touring the world, playing hundreds of shows a year.

You can see where they have been touring on their website.
Just a reminder before we go any further that for some years they handed out a flashing Xylo wristband to everyone at their concerts.

These had technology in them which meant a signal could be received which made the band flash different synchronised colours - lots of plastic and other materials used in them of course...

They have now announced that they are pausing their touring over a concern over the climate impact.

They want to make their new album "actively benecial" to the environment - the best way probably would be not to make it at all of course...

Scientists at Manchester University have also apparently started to track the climate impacts of a band's touring.

Other bands expressing concerns are Billie Eilish and the 1975 are also taking steps. Several music festivals are also trying to go plastic free (which is unlikely to happen in practice of course).

In other news, Jeremy Clarkson has now decided that he believes in global warming after a trip to South East Asia, where he was unable to cross a large lake in the Mekong area. This is now available to view for those who have Amazon Prime.

Catastrophe Modelling and careers

This is the first geographical career video on the Time for Geography website.

AIR is a risk consultancy.
Geographers are involved in this work.

How do you use books in your teaching?

Paul Turner is preparing a session for the GA Conference on the use of texts with students. He has put together a Google Form which he is asking colleagues to complete to help inform his session. Details are below... 
Read the form first, as Paul is also asking for you to attach a couple of things to the forms if possible so he has plenty of examples to share and celebrate.

Think before you speak. Read before you think.

Geography is key to understanding global issues; this is evident from the increasing number of geographically-themed books in mainstream bookshops. This workshop will: explain how to embed key texts within topics such as plastics, gendered spaces, Iceland and Factfulness; demonstrate examples of class activities; and provide take-away materials and teaching resources.

GA Conference 2020 Schedule and Booking

Booking is now open, and you need to get in quick to get the early bird rates, which are in place until January the 6th. 
Why not consult with your CPD coordinator and negotiate some contribution from their budget as it's possibly in your Easter holiday...

The schedule for the conference is up on a website called Sched. There is also an app you can download on the smartphone and see / network with attendees and presenters, who are all listed. See you there.

I've got my booking sorted and hotel rooms booked as well (the prices will rise nearer the event)

I'm also doing a few other bits and pieces which aren't on the main conference schedule, as one would expect, such as speaking to those attending the Young Geographers strand.

I'm looking forward to Paul Rose's Public lecture on the importance of Geography to get us started on the Thursday night, following three hours spent helping delegates explore the potentual of Guildford's High Street area for some enquiry based fieldwork along with John Widdowson.

Future 50 Foods

Interested to read this and other articles on the connections between food and climate change.
The Irish Independent published a very useful Climate change and eating less meat article.
Earlier in the year, we also saw the successful launch on the stock market of Beyond, a company that makes meat-free products, and which has given it a huge valuation. They are linked with Burger King, which has given that chain a bit of a boost in its enduring competition with McDonalds.

I was also intrigued by this VOX piece on how we might look back at the practice of eating meat in the future. It's certainly something to consider for a lot of people currently, as they become more aware of the wider environmental costs involved in the products we consume.
Knorr recently released a report exploring fifty foods which might become significant in the next few decades.

PDF download

Image: Alan Parkinson

Migration Data Flows

The Migration Data Portal would be of interest to those teaching that topic.

It is part of the Open Data searches that are currently being done as part of the D3 Youthmetre Project.

Ed Parsons on the impact of technology

A really interesting talk with useful details on how our interactions with technology are changing spaces. Reading as useful for our D3 ERASMUS project which is underway.
Presented by Ed Parsons, who I have met several times at geospatial-related events over the years...

What has Sat-Nav done to our brains?

An interesting question asked today on Radio 4 - listen again on BBC Sounds.

A reminder of a question I asked a few days ago - would still be interested in your thoughts... Thanks to those who have already answered...

GI Pedagogy Kick Off Meeting

For the last 11 years that I've been writing this blog, there have been regular reports of overseas travel to take part in ERASMUS projects, and lead training in venues across Europe on behalf of Comenius or Erasmus+ funded courses in places like Salzburg and Vidigueira in Portugal.

Last week, I packed my case for another ERASMUS kick-off meeting, but this time it was only a train journey down to London.

I was working with people I have worked with many times previously, which is always comforting, but also working with a new Partner: St. Mary's University in Twickenham.

We met up for meal at a nice pub called the Railway in Teddington (recommended), and the following morning after breakfast, walked over to the University to start two full days of meetings.
The project is called GI Pedagogy. It's a follow up to our very successful GI Learner project.

We don't have a logo or website yet, but that will come in due course.
Here's a summary of the project from the bid.

Innovative Pedagogies for Teaching with Geoinformation

The goal of this project is to provide teachers with the skills and resources they need to embed
Geographic Information System technology into their geography teaching. GIS technology exists and
is freely available to many schools, but implementing effective pedagogical methods requires
communication between universities, teacher training institutions, and teachers themselves.

This innovative and collaborative project allows for the free exchange of knowledge and best practice
ideas between these groups, supporting high-quality and innovative teaching that will equip students
with the skills they need for a digital future.

We already have quite a lot of resources for those using GI, but we need to develop some innovative pedagogies, based on educational research.

We are going to start by exploring the research on what makes effective pedagogies for using GIS, about which there has been little work so far, compared to other classroom pedagogies. If you have some ideas for what that might look like, please let me know. 
Are the strategies we read so much about from Rosenshine etc. also applicable when teaching about and with GIS?
What does the research say in this area?

At the end of the first day of meetings, we headed for the Waldegrave Drawing Room, which is a beautiful and historic venue, based in the grounds of Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill House.
We had drinks, and met the Vice Chancellor Ruth Kelly, who was the Education Secretary for a while, and attended the St. Mary's Feast Day Dinner.

A 2nd day of meetings followed, where we set up a research methodology to keep us busy for several months, identified roles for each partner around the ouputs, and also sorted out the date for our next meeting in Belgium, by which time we will have plenty to discuss.

Official photo:
Back row: Brendan, Luc, Me, Karl, Rafael, Miguel Angel
Front row: Diana, Sophie, Anca, Michaela and Maria-Luisa

Representing five European countries between us.

ArcGIS and Survey123 for exploring differences within communities

Excellent work by Alistair Hamill from Lurgan.

For the latter part of the 20th century, Northern Ireland, officially part of the United Kingdom but sharing an island with the Republic of Ireland, saw violence between the nationalists (mostly Roman Catholic background) and unionists (mostly Protestant background). The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 sought to end this conflict, by establishing peace between these two communities and guiding how Northern Ireland should be governed. But even 20 years on, Northern Ireland remains divided. Yet, hope is on the horizon. Young students in Lurgan—a town of 25,000 south of Belfast—are using Survey123 for ArcGIS to record data across sectarian lines. After analyzing the data collected, the students from conflicting backgrounds find that they aren't that different after all. This is how change begins. Join the students of Lurgan to learn how youth are using GIS to make a difference in their community.

World Heritage Sites

A nice post by Paul Berry got me thinking about World Heritage Sites.
I've mentioned them quite a few times on here.
I've also visited quite a few - in fact I spent some time in Bruges a few months ago for the launch of a new ERASMUS project: D3.

Paul has also added a new post with some ideas on teaching about World Heritage Sites.

Which of the sites have you visited?
Which would you most like to visit?

FSC 75th Anniversary event

75th anniversary of the Field Studies Council
Linnean Society of London 
3rd December 2019

This was a rather nice event that I was invited to a couple of weeks ago, down at Burlington House, near the Royal Academy. Here are a few thoughts on the day, which took the form of a series of presentations held in a historic space, overlooked by portraits of Darwin and other luminaries.

Dr Olwen Grace, VP of the Linnean Society welcomed us to the society, which had hosted the first readings of Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin’s papers on theories of evolution. She referenced the great scientific advances which grew out of fieldwork and field science and how they had influenced others across the decades. Des Thompson from the FSC outlined the day.

Image from the @CIEEMnet Twitter feed.

The President of the FSC: Tim Burt talked about the work done by the FSC and trailed the publication of a new book in the new year called 'Curious about Nature: a passion for Fieldwork'. Tim was my tutor when I did my degree at Huddersfield Polytechnic, and he was starting his career in academia which later took him to Cambridge and Durham. He mentioned several former GA Presidents including J A Steers.

Andrew Goudie, a former GA President, explored the legacy of the past as well, referencing the work of Agassiz, and some other key figures in field studies. He also mentioned a number of former GA Presidents who have their entries on the GA Presidents blog (or will do shortly) and provided further information on them.

We then heard from two academic ecologists on their fieldwork practice.

Rob Marrs talked about a lifetime working on longer term studies, and the value of these compared to shorter terms.
He suggested that Robert Burns was the first real ecologist in print, and quoted some of his poetry.
I had earlier chatted to Ben Sykes of the Ecological Continuity Trust about the importance of their work.

Silviu Petrovan from the University of Cambridge explored a fairly ‘niche’ area of mammal movements through culverts, using AI and cameras to identify movements through the tunnels. His main argument was that we need to do fieldwork using technology, and also be mindful that we should be ready to be proved wrong.

Sally Hayns gave a nice talk on what it meant to be professional in the field, and outlined some thoughts on a professional framework for what we do.

The first of three sessions ended with Roger Crofts, who I have met quite a few times over the years through his association with the SAGT. He has had a fascinating and varied career as a civil servant and this has taken him into different arenas of discussions with ministers and other stakeholders. He is always an engaging speaker, who draws on his experiences, and this was a nice way to take us up to lunch.

After lunch in the library of the Linnean Society, and an interesting discussion on the recent Danny Dorling paper (see separate blog post) and chat to Iain Stewart it was into the second session.

I really enjoyed the first talk by Professor Pete Higgins on 'why learning outdoors matters'. He referenced a number of people I've read and appreciated over the years including Patrick Geddes.
I spent a little time following up some of the work that he has done. Worth watching again on the video of the sessions (see an earlier blog post for the links)

Much of his work is also available on Open Access.

Gill Miller, the current GA President, gave a geographer’s perspective on the importance of taking risks with fieldwork - not those sort of risks, but ones which draw out the benefits of 
She provided some valuable thoughts on why we need to take young people outside, and how to make the most of the experiences.

Sue Townsend works for the FSC and described some of the work and future priorities with an eye on field skills.

I liked the talk by Emi Husband, too focussing on her progress as a young researcher from fairly uninspiring school fieldtrips to working at the University of Exeter and who has also written for Geography Review.

Christina Ravinet from the British Ecological Society let some students do the talking. The Society has worked with schools in London to offer grants to people who might not normally be able to afford

The second session ended with Professor Iain Stewart who is very comfortable with the idea of communicating the value of science. It is worth catching what he had to say on the live stream I mentioned earlier and re-watching his talk.

One key thing from him was the importance of creating STORIES to engage people.
This keeps recurring. 

You may remember I spoke at the Practical Pedagogies event in November 2018 in Cologne on the 'Narrative Led Curriculum' and repeated the session at the GA Conference in 2019.

I will return to this with the two ERASMUS projects I am involved with over the next couple of years: D3 - Developing Digital Data Literacy and GI Pedagogy.

After a break for tea and biscuits there were a few final sections drawing together the thinking from the day, chaired by Professor Tim Burt.

Marina Colwell, who has written a book on curlews smongst other things shared her idea for a GCSE to be added to the curriculum. She has consulted with education-related politicians and an awarding body, and wants to produce a GCSE in Natural History.

This will help students explore the cultural links with nature, and make connections with the recent surge of new nature writing by people like Robert MacFarlane. This was an interesting session and idea.
Mark Castle presented the FSCs vision for the next few years. I chatted to him at the start of the day.

After the day had ended, we moved upstairs to the library for drinks and some more interesting conversations, before thanking the FSC for the invitation and heading home through the late night shoppers and workers of London. A really interesting day.

Christmas Trees

I bought our Christmas tree two weekends ago - a little earlier than normal.
It's a real tree.

It's a potted Nordman Fir, which can be planted out after the festive season is over. The tree has a label and the NeedleFresh website allows you to find the origin of your tree.

I had a look, as I went through a Christmas tree plantation at the end of October up near Perth, with all the trees labelled up with their height labels even though they were still growing at that point and not yet harvested.

There's the annual debate over whether real or artifical trees have the best environmental footprint, and this is something which we are discussing within the school in terms of the long term benefits of either.
The main school Christmas tree apparently comes from Suffolk.

Why teach Grid References?

State of Nature Report

This doesn't make for overly cheery reading.

TeachMeet Geography Icons

The third event in the TeachMeet Geography Icons series has just been announced. It's the 20th of June 2020.
You can also submit a proposal to speak using the link below.

I was privileged to be the Keynote speaker of the first event in 2018. I shall put this in my calendar for next year.

Appleton Church

Enjoying this image I took quite recently of a ruined church on the Sandringham Estate.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Jack Hurley's 'alternative' tourist posters

Jack Hurley has been working on some alternative tourist posters for seaside resorts.

There's a flavour here of the Caravan Gallery's postcards 'Welcome to Britain', which have a more broad general target.

There was also a famous Viz comic variation on the famous 'Skegness: it's so bracing' poster, which I won't reproduce here as it's quite rude.

Thanks to David Jarratt, who is my go-to person for seaside related stuff for mentioning these on his excellent Twitter feed.

They have provoked some interesting responses from geographers who are interested in whether these perspectives are 'insider' or 'outsider' ones.

There's also an Etsy shop where prints and postcards can be bought.

Celebrating the coast's thin drizzle of disappointment.

Could you be a London National Park City Ranger?

Why not apply?
Details are here.

Join us as a London National Park City Ranger, backed by global lifestyle brand Timberland, and together we will make life better in London.
We’re looking for optimists, artists, rewilders, local guides, game-makers, photographers, gardeners, writers, first aiders, teachers, storytellers, natural navigators, fundraisers, mappers, tree planters, rescuers, expert guides, play street organisers, hedgehog hole makers, poets and people with other skills and talents to share with others.
You’ll volunteer in your community and across the city to inspire and support others to make life better in the capital. You might do things to make the city greener, wilder and more beautiful, to tackle the climate crisis or to improve people’s health, perhaps by inspiring people to get outside to exercise and have fun!
You’ll join a network of National Park City Rangers, get access to free training and learn new skills to influence and involve people. We’ll help you network online, in communities and through our London-wide supporter network. We’ll provide you with a Rangers kit supplied by Timberland to wear at public events and meetings. Apart from this training, your commitment would be a minimum of five days each year.
We’re kicking off our partnership with Timberland by supporting two projects that will engage communities and create new pockets of urban nature in Thornton Heath, South London. But we want to deliver hundreds of projects like this across London. Tell us how your skills and passion can inspire change and leave a positive legacy.

UK Climate Emergency Poll - Press Release

So, yesterday, we launched a Press Release giving the results of our early data analysis of the flash poll on the Climate and Nature Emergencies which we launched a week and a half ago.

We shared the raw data so far on an ArcGIS Online map.

The key findings were:
  • nearly three quarters of respondents believe that the UK Government (47%) and industry (25%) hold the biggest responsibility for tackling the climate and nature emergencies
  • nearly three quarters of respondents (71%) felt that the UK Government is not doing enough to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and more than half (62%) felt that businesses were not doing enough
  • only 15% of respondents were ‘very hopeful’ that people in the UK can help find a solution, though a third (38%) were ‘hopeful’ about this being achieved
  • just over half of respondents (52%) say they feel it is possible to stop the loss of species on Earth
  • just one in three respondents (38%) felt they were individually doing enough to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.
Plymouth University shared the Press release.

Caroline Clason shared her detailed thoughts on the outcome of the poll on her Melting Planet blog.

Ashden Less CO2 & Canterbury Christchurch University press release with information

Geographers for Life are currently

  • Paul Chatterton, Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds. 
  • Caroline Clason, Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth. 
  • Ben King, Teacher at Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Torbay, Devon. 
  • Paula Owens – Teacher, mentor @LESSCO2Schools, visiting Research Ffellow Canterbury Christ Church University.
  • Alan Parkinson, JVP of the Geographical Association, King's Ely School.
  • Daniel Raven-Ellison, explorer.
  •  Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth.
Follow us on Twitter @Geo4Life, and let us know if you'd like to get involved in future activity.

We have a job of work to do.

Here is what the respondents wanted the new Prime Minister to do.

The poll is still up if you'd like to participate.

Time magazine Person of the Year

Was this ever in doubt. Congratulations Greta.
Time magazine cover with Greta Thunberg


Something I threw together quickly to encourage discussion in what was the last lesson of term with a group that had been studying tectonic hazards.
This is a 'live' story, and those involved will be living with the consequences for many years to come.

Aroha to all those involved, and helping those affected.
An ABC News interactive story is here

Whakaari by Alan Parkinson on Scribd

Steve Brace Letter

International Mountains Day

Here's an image of some mountains I took last year to celebrate.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Common Entrance Geography Paper from 1988

Found in my classroom cupboard when clearing out.
May be worth setting this to see how students do. Wonder what their knowledge of Warsaw Pact countries is like...

What are New Zealand's Volcano Alert levels?

A useful video as a reminder of what Level 2 means on a scale of 0 - 5.

North and West Norfolk Monopoly

Available from a number of places in West Norfolk. Raising money for Tapping House Hospice - the Norfolk Hospice.

SAGT Conference 2019 - #3 South Georgia

The reason for going up to SAGT was to present on a new resource I am producing for the South Georgia Heritage Trust.
This is out in the new year.
The SGHT had a stand at the conference, manned by CEO Alison Neill.

Image may contain: people sitting

Please sign up here to be informed when the resource goes live, and we will send you a link to download the new PDF. We will only use your e-mail address to send you the link and then delete the details - they will not be stored any longer than needed.

Worth following Mark Brandon's twitter feed for his recent travel - he is in South Georgia at the moment, exploring the end of Shackleton's crossing and the whaling station at Stromness.

UK Climate Emergency Poll - some early results

At the end of last week, a group of us called Geographers for Life launched a UK Youth Climate Emergency Flash Poll. 

We ran it for a week and shared it very widely. The tweet where we launched it had over 50 000 impressions, which was impressive.

The results can be viewed here in the embedded map. More outcomes to come....

And here is a first


Changing Places: Hveragerdi, Iceland from DiscovertheWorldEducation on Vimeo.

An excellent video from Simon Ross and Discover the World Education. It introduces you to this small town which will be familiar to many visitors, and which has an interesting history.

Antarctic sound clips

Antarctic sound clips from the Scott Polar Museum, part of the new Shackleton Online collection.
If you're in Cambridge, you can pick up some interesting Christmas gifts from the shop at the Scott Polar Museum too.

FSC 75th Anniversary Celebration

There were two livestreams of the am and pm sessions at the FSC's 75th Anniversary celebrations I attended last week.
The morning one is here.

The afternoon sessions are here...
This includes Gill Miller of the GA, and Professor Iain Stewart

More thoughts in a future blog post...

WEMC Education Visualisation Tool

The beta of the C3S Climate and Energy Education Tool, developed by the World Energy and Meteorology Council is now live – have a look:
It would be great if you could have a play, share, and perhaps comment on social media using the hashtag #C3SeduWEMC.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Climate & Energy Education Demonstrator gives access to reliable and robust scientific data through intuitive displays and controls. 
It offers a great opportunity to easily explore first-hand how our climate is changing in a way that matches the school curriculum.

A launch webinar will take place on Tuesday 7th January 2020 at 4pm GMT/UTC

The tool and associated webinar would be of interest to those teaching energy/climate related topics.

Climbing and Climate Change

This BBC piece explains how some Alpine peaks are now close to being closed due to the safety of climbers.

The Matterhorn is one of the famous peaks which is being considered as being close to closure as the rocks are becoming loosened due to a thawing of the water content within them.
I visited the Alps at the start of 2018, and saw the disappearance of the Mer de Glace written in the signs that are on the side of the steps as you descend to the level of the ice from Montenvers station.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Mexico - Google Crisis

A useful Google document on the way that Google Crisis response was brought to play following an earthquake in Mexico, helping people to find out what was happening, and where they could go for help.

FSC 75th Anniversary

I was invited to this event, which is to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Field Studies Council, and held in London.
The day featured a range of sessions which were varied in their scope and approach, but all around the same theme of the importance of learning outside.
Thanks to the FSC for the invitation, and to the Linnean Society for hosting. I shall be sharing some of my take aways from the day in a future blog post, but it was lovely to chat with some old friends and colleagues, and meet some new friends.

Thought for the Day

“Thinking geographically offers a uniquely powerful way of seeing the world and making connections between scales from the local to the global’… the zoom lens attribute of geography that shows how decisions and events at a local level can have global consequences. 
Peter Jackson, University of Sheffield

Climate Change survey

Dear fellow geographers

We need your help to make something important go viral so, one geographer to another, we are hoping that you'll pass this message on to 5 more Geography educators/influencers. 

What do the young people of the UK think about the climate and nature emergencies? 

Myself and a group of geographers (Geographers For Life) working in primary, secondary, and higher education have released a flash poll to find out. Please ask young people you teach (or parent!) to complete this poll AND share it with 5 more geographers to help us spread the poll far and wide. You can also pass it on to your kids, your neighbours, your friends and colleagues, your students... 

It's important that we get as many participants as possible so the key messages emerging from this poll make people sit up and listen. We want to gauge the opinions of young people now, before the election, so that we can communicate how the next generation really feels about the impacts of and solutions to climate and environmental change, and what they want to see done by the government. 

Responses will be anonymous, and all results will be made publicly available when the poll closes this Friday - 6th December. 

Thank you, 

Ben King 
Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Torbay, Devon 

Iain Stewart
Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth 

Paul Chatterton

Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds

Caroline Clason
Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth

Daniel Raven-Ellison

Paula Owens
Teacher, mentor @LESSCO2Schools
Visiting research fellow Canterbury Christ Church Uni. 

Alan Parkinson
 JVP of the Geographical Association, King's Ely School

Flickr followers - a 100th follower needed please

I've been sharing images over on Flickr for over 12 years.
There have been over 28 000 images added to my account, and they have been viewed three-quarters of a million times.
I'm on 99 followers, so if you would like to follow me and have your own Flickr account please do, and I shall follow you back.... it would be good to get over 100 followers.

David Holmes is one of the geographers who uses Flickr to share his images, and he has produced a useful account called Geography SouthWest with albums which I have contributed a few images to.

Do you use Flickr?
Please let me know, and I will put together a list of Geographers using Flickr for a future Webwatch list.
A few others that I have used.

Bryan Ledgard:
Geographical Association (includes Conference photos from the last few years):

Scottish Association of Geography Teachers - many images taken by Val Vannet

Ordnance Survey:

Felicity Aston

Felicity is doing a series of talks in the Spring Term for the RGS lecture series.
She's coming to King's Lynn on the 13th of March, and I will be there with some students.

Jon Snow speaking to David Attenborough

An important interview, with some clear thinking on our shared future.

Coastal Erosion in Happisburgh

Which areas of coastline are most at risk from erosion?

The Environment Agency has created these maps which allow you to zoom into areas of coastline and see to what extent they have been defended.

The insurance company has been busy producing assessments of which communities around the coast are most at risk of erosion. Click on one to see a simple map, some data about the settlement, along with an animation of the rate of erosion over the next few decades.

At number one is Happisburgh.
An interesting article in the i paper today, on the Norfolk village of Happisburgh.

SAGT Conference 2019 #2 - Lorna Dawson keynote

Apologies for delay - a busy half term so far...
SAGT Conference was held at Dollar Academy near Stirling once again, at the end of October - nearly a month ago now. This meant a long train journey up to Stirling, via Ely. I arrived in Stirling just as the SAGT folks were checking in, so ended up heading for the Allan Park Hotel in Stirling for a meal and chat with friends old and new, and Doug Allan, the wildlife cameraman who has worked with David Attenborough.
After breakfast, it was over to Dollar, with a crisp start next to the Tay.
I helped with the Geographical Association stand, which was being looked after by Steve Rawlinson, and Gill Miller, this year's President was also in attendance.
The first keynote of SAGT 2019 was by Lorna Dawson.
It was sponsored by esri UK

Here are my notes, any errors in meaning are mine. This was a really enjoyable session.

Lorna Dawson is a Forensic soil scientist, and works for the James Hutton Institute.
Her twitter feed is @soilfit and is well worth following.
She described how Forensic Science is not new. Romans looked at the soil in hooves of their enemies to trace where they had been.
On the Prussian railway, people were stealing gold, and substituting it with sand to put weight in.
They looked at the sand and compared it with that in the barrels and excluded all but one station where people were stealing the gold and caught people.
Evidence is about linking trace material with a place.

She has worked on a number of programmes including Silent Witness and Countryfile. On the 'One Show', she was given a soil sample from somewhere in Scotland and was able to get within 700m
A good quote:
“Without GIS tools, we geographers couldn’t do the work that we do”

Lorna described hereself as "a geographer specialising in soil science".

“Geographers are particularly good at communicating the science and are safe knowledge brokers”

Liaising with police, farmers, politicans and lawyers, who speak different languauges
“Geographers are particularly good at translating knowledge into expertise and understanding”

Conan Doyle - used the idea of soils in crime novels - London clay was seen on people's clothing - spatial information about where it had come from was all important.
Every contact leaves a trace.
Everyone here will leave something behind that will tell that you have been in this room - forensically.
The link between person and place is important.

Filter in a washing machine - in one case, soil was found in the filter and mineral component could be checked, as the criminal had washed their jeans, and connected them with the place

Soil is complex - a microcosm of
Biology / Chemistry / Physics
Geology / Organic matter
It has a signature: DNA - can be extracted from soil

Spatial resolution of the data - James Hutton Institute -database of soil information.

There are apparently only 4 soils which Scottish students need to know about, including:

Brown earths - productive crops
Podsols - uplands
Gleys - lovely grass for livestock
Peatlands - sequestering carbon - value of soils

Gas chromatography is one scientific technique being used to identify elements of the soil.
Working out the scenario of what could have happened - crime reconstruction.
GPR - "ground penetrating radar" also being used.
Volatile organic compounds from a decomposing body can be identified using these scientific methods as well as fibres from clothing.
Sand is not just sand....
2nd case example was this one.

She talked about crime writers she had worked with.
Ann Cleeves work

Ian Rankin
Val MacDermid quote was excellent.

"I think people sometimes underestimate the power of setting, in particular with the crime novel, because everybody knows murders are not solved the way we write about them in our books, it’s not how it happens. If we wrote about the reality it would be so boring no one would read it, so what we have to do is to persuade the reader to come with us on this journey of suspension of disbelief, and anything you can do to make your book feel more plausible helps you with that.

So if you write about place in a way that for someone who knows that place, that absolutely they’re there with you and you’ve got it right – the way people will read and think I know that café, I know that park, I’ve waited at that bus stop – if you get those details right then they trust you about everything else you’re telling them…

In order to take people on that journey of setting, you make your setting vivid, you make it rich, you make it part of the world of the book, and you use all the five senses as well, sight, sound, smell, touch, hearing, and taste."

This is an excellent quote for geographers and sense of place.

An excellent conference keynote.

Image: Ian Crisp

'A' Level Data Analysis StoryMap

Guildford - what would you investigate?

One of the things I will be doing in Guildford at the GA Conference in April next year is leading a fieldtrip for colleagues to explore some ideas developed in the book that I co-wrote with John Widdowson called 'Fieldwork through Enquiry', which is coming out in a 2nd edition in a few month's time I understand. 

It's been trailed in the latest GA Magazine and will hopefully be available to order soon from the GA Shop.

If you were taking some students to Guildford, what would you do with them? 

GCSE or NEA level, or perhaps at KS3

The RGS has a Clone Town resource based in Guildford.

What particular aspects of fieldwork would you like to trial if you were taking part in some CPD?

Population Pyramids made in Google Sheets

May be of interest to some as a technique to use.

Slow Ways Hack Day

Another initiative by Daniel Raven Ellison which we can get behind.

Free tickets available from Eventbrite.

More details here:

100 volunteers needed! Help create a network of 1,000+ walking routes connecting all of Great Britain's towns and cities - in just one day.


I'm a geographer, walker and campaigner. You can read more about my work and collaborations here. A few years ago, when planning a route between Salisbury and Winchester, I started to wonder...

What if there was a network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain's towns and cities? And... why doesn't that exist already?

While there are thousands of miles of paths linking places across the country, there isn't a comprehensive network designed to help people walk off-road between all towns and cities. A breakthrough is needed.

Using existing footpaths, Slow Ways is a bold collaborative project to design a network of over 1,000 routes that can be used to inspire and guide walking between towns, cities and villages. People will be able to use it to walk between neighbouring settlements or to combine multiple Slow Way routes for long-distance journeys.

This is an important, positive and timely project. Walking can improve health and wellbeing, tackle the climate and ecological emergencies, save people money, improve our environment and bring joy to people's lives.

I've teamed up with Ordnance Survey who I collaborate with as a GetOutside Champion

The entire Slow Ways network will be published and made freely available via Ordnance Survey.

100 Volunteers, 1 Day, 1000+ routes!

I'm looking for 100 volunteers to create the first draft of a "Slow Ways" network, on one day, in just 10 hours.

Are you up for it? You'll need to:
  • be up for collaborating and sharing your efforts
  • aged 14+
  • be free from 10am to 8pm on February 1st
  • get yourself to Geovation in central London
  • be confident reading and using OS maps
  • use the OS maps platform (with guidance) and be OK with their terms and conditions
  • have a laptop you can work on

The Slow Ways hack day is being organised with support from the Kestrelman Trust. It is being held at Geovation (Ordnance Survey's innovation centre) and you'll be given lunch, dinner, snacks, tea, coffee and we'll have some drinks to celebrate at the end of the day too.

Everything we make will be made freely available online via OS maps . Whilst you'll own everything you create on the day, all volunteers need to be willing to share what’s created with the Slow Ways project too.

This is a unique opportunity to collaboratively create a beautiful, free and important new walking network for Great Britain. 

Who knows who or what it will inspire?

I do hope that you're inspired by this idea and ready to help bring it to life.

See you on February 1st for the #slowways hack day?

Dan Raven-Ellison

See you there!

The EU has declared a Climate Emergency

Report in 'The Guardian'

Young People's Climate and Nature Emergencies Poll

If you teach, or parent young people - or you are one yourself, please fill in this survey - the more respondents the better. Thanks in advance.

See the previous post for our new Geographers for Life @Geo4Life Twitter feed too, where we will be releasing the results of our work.

Climate and Nature Emergencies

Tonight, the Channel 4 News team have a special Climate Leaders Debate at 7pm.

Not all the leaders are quite as concerned about the climate emergency it seems, but our young people are.
What are their thoughts on the growing climate and nature emergencies facing our planet, not by the end of the century, but within the next few decades.
The UN report yesterday made it clear that warming is irreversible. 

I'm part of a group of Geographers who have come together under the name Geographers for Life. 
We have put together a poll which we would like to reach as many people as possible.

Follow us on our new Twitter feed @Geo4Life and share the link to the poll.

Please facilitate your students having the chance to answer it if possible over the next week. It only takes a couple of minutes.

#YouthClimatePoll #ClimateDebate