WEMC SIG: a new opportunity for resources

WEMC is the World Energy and Meteorology Council.

Yesterday, I attended a webinar to launch a new Education Special Interest Group for the WEMC.

Kit Rackley is leading the whole group, and took us through the plans for developing materials and resources to support educators teaching about climate change.

You can see the WCEM ECEM resource by following this link, and also see Kit's lesson materials, which provided a 'proof of concept' for the need for more developed educational version of the tool. I am excited to be involved in some way in this group as it goes forward.

Details of the webinar are here

You can hear me rambling on from around 39 minutes in. Good to hear from voices in several countries, so this will be an international SIG.

Reducing Disaster Risk - a StoryMap

Thanks to Bob Lang for the tipoff to this map...

Places of Poetry: The Fens

The Places of Poetry website has launched today.
I mentioned it earlier in the year when I first heard about it.
It is collecting poems which are written about places, which can then be pinned to an interactive map. Click the menu icon top right on the home page for all the details and to add your own poem.

Read about the project on the OS blog here. There is a link with the Ordnance Survey.

The project has been developed by Paul Farley and Professor Andrew McRae, who says:

“Poetry has been used across the centuries to reflect on places and their histories. We’re using modern technology to reinvigorate this model, and we hope that as many people as possible get involved. We are excited to see where people pin their poems, and what they say about the places that matter to them.”

I went on this morning and added my own poem to the map.
You can view and read it here, just outside of the city of Ely.
My poem also has a link to the Ordnance Survey, as it describes the survey of the Fens that was done in 1916, and imagines the challenges facing the surveyors of capturing this fluid and flat landscape with its shifting rivers and streams, only to find that an old Fenland boy spots a mistake. Fast-forward 100 years, and students on a geography fieldtrip, using their smartphones, notice a missing stream on their digital maps...

Why not write / add your own poem to the map to contribute.
The map is open for contributions until October, and I look forward to seeing more poems appearing over the next few months.

Here's the poem for those who might like to read it and haven't already...

Current listening - Spaceship 'Outcrops'

A review can be read here.

Focussing on a series of sandstone outcrops above the West Yorkshire town of Todmorden, Outcrops is an exploration of the geological history of the Upper Calder Valley and Cliviger Gorge. Revitalising an enthusiasm for geology that saw Williamson complete an undergraduate degree in Earth Science in the 1990s, each track was created to invoke a particular phase of that history, namely the interbedded sandstones and siltstones of the Millstone Grit, the formation of the Yorkshire coal measures and finally the glaciation of the valley during the last ice age.

The album was recorded in the field, in a series of small caves where Williamson created the pieces that make up the album whilst almost encased within the landscape he was describing. These recordings were then treated to minimal editing and post production in Williamson’s home studio at the base of the hills where the recordings were made. In this way the album becomes analogous to many of the local stone buildings, the materials from which they were built often having travelled just a few hundred yards to the site of the building’s final construction.

Finally, whereas last year’s The Last Days (The Dark Outside Recordings) was about Williamson leaving his Essex home of the last twelve years, Outcrops is about the discovery of somewhere new.

Curating a School Museum

This is an intriguing and important resource.
We have explored the idea of the geographical museum and also the idea of curation.

Details on the development of the resource are here.

Extreme Global Impacts

Those who are subscribers to Teachit Geography will find an excellent new Scheme of Work with all the necessary resources has now been added to the site.

It is called Extreme global impacts.
It features a series of lessons on Extremes. I have been using it with some Year 8 students who have really enjoyed the activities, and it has also set up some cover lessons for me, which went down well.

I liked the Instagram writing task, which I'm going to adapt for my own context in true GA style.

Thought for the Day

"You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions."
Sven Lindqvist, 'Exterminate all the brutes' p.1

New York - Hudson Yards

I've been following the development at Hudson Yards (part of it anyway) which is a huge redevelopment scheme close to Hells Kitchen in Midtown New York. Shopping, entertainment and housing are all in one part of the city, close to the Hudson River and Penn Station.
While we were there, they were also handing out free tickets for visitors to the Vessel: a Thomas Heatherwick creation.
The building front left in the image is called The Shed, and is a music venue. Bjork played there recently, according to the development's curated Instagram feed.

Take a look at this for some more evidence of who the development is aimed at. Prices start from around $5 million.

Food at the V&A

One of the areas I've read up about most this year has been the topic of food.
Good to see a large new exhibition at the V and A on the theme of Food: Bigger than the Plate.
I'm not so pleased about the ticket price.

Here's a description.

FOOD: Bigger than the Plate falls at a pivotal time where food and our relationship to it are topics of increasing global interest and debate. 
It features over 70 contemporary projects, new commissions and creative collaborations by artists and designers who are working with chefs, farmers, scientists and local communities. Taking a fresh, experimental and often provocative perspective, these projects will present alternative food futures, from gastronomic experiments to creative interventions in farming, with several exhibits physically growing in the gallery space. 
They will sit alongside 30 objects from the V and A collections – including influential early food adverts, illustrations and ceramics – providing historical context to the contemporary exhibits.

Mystery object

Thanks to Simon Hathaway for sending me this picture of a mystery object, which geographers might be able to recognise. It apparently dates from around 1789.

Faroe Islands closed for maintenance

A fascinating story on the closure of the Faroe Islands so that they could be tidied, and some work done to prepare for the coming tourist season. Tourist destinations never really get a 'rest' after all.
BBC News article

The only visitors were people who had volunteered to help repair certain areas.
"Voluntourists" is the name given to the volunteers.

Canada and Climate Change

A rather excellent visual website which allows the user to explore the potential impacts of climate change in Canada.
Choose from drop downs to see how different areas of Canada, a fairly sizeable country, will be affected by climate change.

It has been produced by the team involved with the Climate Atlas of Canada.

It would be good to see something similar for the UK, although the smaller scale may make modelling like this more difficult.

Teachit Tips Sheet

I've noticed that the latest GA Magazine, in addition to having my profile as the JVP Elect of the GA on the first page, and my latest WebWatch column, also has a TeachIt Geography tips sheet that I wrote earlier in the year.
The tips sheet contains 20 ideas for using Technology.

Worth mentioning that the excellent Vocal Recall app, tip no.5 has since disappeared following some issues, but an Android BETA for its replacement ClassQR is running, and has been for a while, so hopefully we shall see that soon as a replacement doing the same sort of thing. I loved Vocal Recall and used it a lot, even putting stickers on my stapler which kept disappearing saying "Please return to N2" when it was scanned....

There's also a trail for a new book coming out later in the year which I've spent part of the last few months creating.

National Map Reading Week

It's a pity that it's during the school holidays as we normally do a big push on this at school, and it's sometimes been later in the year.

It's National Map Reading Week, so try to get out there this week with an OS Map and try the downloadable guides.

Perhaps this is the week to do a trial of the OS Maps app - it's excellent...

Carbon Cycle - animated

Via Robert Rohde - see the thread here...


"In geography, as in other subjects, we want to change from the teaching by words to the teaching by the things the words are supposed to describe. 
Geographical teaching, to be worth anything, must be real and practical. It is not enough to appeal to the ear alone. The eye must be trained as well, first of all by seeing the actual land surface from which the first lessons in geography must be taken."

(Herbertson, A.J. (1896)
For more on Herbertson, visit my GA Presidents Blog.

No flat horizons

Norfolk is not as flat as people think.

An interesting piece on the area where I live, which I've also done a fair bit of writing on over the years, including some presentations on the sense of place of the coastline while President of the Norfolk GA some years ago.

Image credit: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

Mastering Primary Geography

Lovely to see a new book, written by Anthony Barlow and Sarah Whitehouse on the theme of Mastering Primary Geography is out.

This guide includes examples of children's work, case studies, readings to reflect upon and reflective questions that all help to show students and teachers what is considered to be best and most innovative practice, and how they can use that knowledge in their own teaching to the greatest effect.

I love the sound of the sections too, particularly the ones in bold.

· Current developments in geography
· Geography as an irresistible activity
· Geography as a practical activity
· Skills to develop in geography
· Promoting curiosity
· Assessing children in geography
· Practical issues

The cheapest place to get a copy it seems is through the publishers themselves, via the Bloomsbury website.

Also nice to see that I get a mention as well.

GA Oxford Branch Programme for 2019/20

Many thanks to Paul Baker for sending through the details below of what looks like a mightily impressive series of lectures which would be super for those living in the area. A few of them are very tempting for me to drive over, although it's perhaps a little too far to get there for 5pm on a school night.



President: Garrett Nagle (St Edward’s School)

Organising Group:

Garret Nagle (Geography Department, St Edwards School, President of Oxford GA Branch)

Hugh Stephens (Head of Geography, St Edwards School)

Paul Baker (Chartered Geographer, Programme Organiser)

Tristan Booth (Head of Geography at MCS and Host of Oxford GA Worldwise Quiz)

All lectures take place at St Edwards School, Woodstock Road, Oxford,OX2 7NN

Lectures take place at St Edwards in either the Old Library, the North Wall. Please always enter via the Woodstock Road entrance to the School.

Lectures are free for all adults, students and schools and members of the GA.

Our Lecture programme is aimed towards ALL students taking Geography Post 16 exams and Adult GA Branch members. Some lectures may be appropriate for GCSE students. Quizzes and other events run by the Branch for Students and teachers are also included in this programme. The Summer Term 2018 will be for PrimarySchool and Prep School teachers..

We ask where possible that you let Garrett Nagle know the rough number of students you are bringing to Lectures so they can plan number of seats required and location of lecture.(nagleg@stedwards.oxon.sch.uk) or Hugh Stephens (stephensh@stedwards.oxon.sch.uk)

Autumn Term 2019

Wednesday 25th Sept: 5pm Lecture

Andrew Goudie, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Oxford.

‘Geomorphological Hazards in Drylands'

Wednesday 2nd October: 5pm Lecture

Izzy Bishop, Research Manager for Freshwater Watch at the Earthwatch Institute, Oxford.

‘Our Blue Planet: Water is a precious resource but can citizen scientists save it.’

Wednesday 16th October: 5pm Lecture -

Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards, University College London.
'Waking the Giant: How Changing Climate triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes.'

Wednesday 13th November: 5pm Lecture

Edward Davey, Project Director at World Resources Institute.

‘Given Half a Chance, Ten Ways to Save the World’

Wednesday 20th November: 5pm Lecture

The Annual Pilgrim Lecture.

Patricia Daley, Professor of Human Geography of Africa, Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Oxford.
‘Decolonising Geography’
(Professor Daley will after the lecture talk informally to any Geography Student who has applied to University to read Geography or are thinking of applying to read Geography. Some refreshments will be supplied)

Thursday 28th November.

Worldwise Quiz at Magdalen College School.
Hosted and organised by Tristan Booth, Head of Geography at MCS, Oxford.
All Schools invited to introduce one or two teams. Details will be sent separately in September.

Spring Term 2020 

Wednesday 22nd January: Lecture 5pm

Tim Schwanen, Director of the Transport Unit and Associate Professor in Transport Studies and Human Geography, University of Oxford.
'The Future of Urban Mobility'

Wednesday 29th January: Lecture 5pm

Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science and Head of the Climate Dynamics Group, University of Oxford.
'An unlikely solution to the problem of Climate Change'

Wednesday 5th February: Lecture 5pm 

Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics, Royal Holloway University of London.
' A new Arctic in the making'

Summer Term 2020

KS2 Field Studies Day for Primary and Prep Schools teachers

(Date and details will be sent to Primary and Prep Schools in Oxfordshire in January 2020)

The Oxford GA Branch is affiliated to the Geographical Association.
Address: Geographical Association, 160, Solly Street, Sheffield S1 4BF.
Full details of the GA can be found at www.geography.org.uk
Further details about the Oxford GA available from Paul Baker - 07368455630

Image: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license.

Climate Change Questionnaire

Caiti Walter has been asking people over on Twitter about their teaching of Climate Change at KS3.
Could include some thought on how to refer to it... Climate Crisis? Climate Breakdown?

Caiti has now made a Google Form for you to fill in if you have a moment.

Complete it below if you have a moment to help contribute to a sample of what people are up to in their own departments. Many thanks in advance.

Factfulness SOW

Was asked about this earlier, so thought I'd stick it up here again as a reminder. Use the search box to find out more about this, and the supporting materials that I created and used thanks to others.

Geographers need to be mathematicians too

A letter from Steve Brace has been published in the Financial Times, and can be read on this link here for a while at least.

A few years ago, I sit in on some numeracy training, and was reminded of the need to use common vocabulary when working with students so as not to confuse them when constructing graphs etc.

I was also part of the team that developed the resources for the Data Skills in Geography project.

And here is a link to a previous paper exploring the mathematical capabilities of geographers.
You can always count on geographers...

Queues on Everest

This image has been shared many times over the last few days, showing a queue of climbers attempting to reach the summit of Everest on a sunny summit opportunity. I shall talk about the image later.

There were several climbers who died as a result of this queue, and over a dozen have died in the last week or so. This has been a deadly climbing season.

Yesterday, it was announced that a UK climber has also sadly died.

The weather during this climbing season has been quite bad, partly as a result of a cyclone which hit India. This means that the 'good' days see hundreds of climbers trying to achieve their ambition of standing on the highest point on the planet. I've read many books over the years about the mountain, and seen many films and other media. I've followed the tweets and Facebook updates of fellow OS GetOutside Champion Kenton Cool, and Ben Fogle as they climbed Everest last year.

The Guardian has further reporting on the story.

A story from 2017 in similar vein shows that this is not a new story of course. Since the resurgence of climbs on Everest in the 1970s and 1980s there have been tragedies, often well below the Death Zone. I have used a range of resources to teach this topic.
A lot of my work has been framed by the work of Matt Podbury, who has produced an excellent set of materials on the mountain in his 8850 Unit on GeographyPods.

The image has been shared widely, often without credit. It was taken by Nirmal Purja Magar or 'Nims'
He is profiled here in National Geographic.

He has been part of Project Possible, which has been breaking records for climbing some of the most challenging peaks in the world in record time and hoping to continue during the current climbing season.

I also used a Tweet by Ben Fogle, and some of the responses to that tweet

Today in the Observer, there is an excellent piece on some further thoughts on this 

And a few Dark Tourism Twitter accounts have made a link to this area of study which I am going to explore next year with my Year 8 groups. I've got some excellent resources to use as a basis, and am going to

And to finish, another reminder of the excellence of Public Service Broadcasting.

Update (May 27th)

Since posting, I have had a lot of responses via Twitter and likes of the suggestions about paying Nims for his images.
This NPR interview contains some more details on the death zone and how it affects people.

There has also been a response to the academics who explore Dark Tourism, an area I'm interested in developing further next year.

And Ben Fogle has written a piece on his thoughts for the Daily Mail, which I won't link to here, as I don't link to the DM, but apparently he donated his fee for the piece to Nims and the Project Possible team.

Update (May 28th)

Climate Change - do you teach it at KS3

The question of whether climate change was on the curriculum came back again this week... this time about making the climate emergency part of the 'core curriculum'.
We Geographers know that Climate Change has always been part of what we teach... I hope.

Help Caiti with her poll here, and RT on your own Twitter feed to help get more replies.

Public Service Broadcasting

Your occasional reminder of just how awesome Public Service Broadcasting are, and why they should be a favourite band of every Geographer...

Counter Mapping

I'm signed up to receive the newsletter from The Global Oneness project, and have just received one with information on an intriguing film explaining how some indigenous people 'map' their territories.
It's embedded here:

In this 10-minute film, we meet Jim Enote, a traditional Zuni farmer, elder, and director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in Zuni, New Mexico. The film documents Enote’s work with Zuni artists to create maps that bring an indigenous voice and perspective back to the land. “Counter mapping” challenges the western notions of geography and the borders imposed on indigenous cultures. 

In the film, Enote said that “Maps have done a lot to confuse things for people. More lands have been lost to native peoples probably through mapping than through physical conflict.” We discussed the positive and negative impacts of modern mapping and technology, the colonization of land and the re-naming of territories, as well as local natives and languages. 

Enote describes that “Modern maps don’t have a memory.” If we can recollect and remember the native names of our mountains and waterways, I think we’ll notice the intimate connection between language and landscape that exists right under our feet. One student said, after being asked how she would document her place through mapping, that she would document what is important to her—family, connection, and the land she calls home. The discussions generated from sharing indigenous stories are essential in expanding students' awareness to include perspectives grounded in traditional ways of knowing that challenge western notions of progress.

I've blogged about the project previously.

They have a very useful resource area. (Google Doc link)

Free CPD for those in East Cambridgeshire - and nearby

Just signed up to attend the Golden Thread conference in July.

My school is part of an East Cambridgeshire Partnership, which was launched a few weeks ago. I spoke at the launch about the opportunity for all schools in the area that meet criteria to attend a Critical Thinking for Achievement course. Go here for more details on that, colleagues around the country can help lead one in your school if you can attract enough delegates.

Littleport Academy is now hosting an event, which involves Daniel Muijs from OFSTED, and Alex Quigley, author of an excellent book called 'Closing the Vocabulary Gap'.

There are also inputs from local teachers on a range of themes.

Oh, and I mention that it's free? 
Tickets are limited due to capacity.

Global Warming and Greenland

I've been teaching about the potential changes that climate change will bring to Greenland for some years now, as part of preparing students for GCSE, but also in our KS3 course.

This World Economic Forum article has some interesting perspectives.

The effects will be felt in the oceans as well of course, and not just on the land.

After Maria

Hurricane Maria was the name of the storm which hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 and devastated the island (as well as Dominica and the US Virgin Islands)

A graphic novel has now been created to share the stories of people 'recovering' from the disaster (remember, there are No Natural Disasters...)
It is available in English and Spanish.

University of Manchester shared this post.

Updated July 2019

Be sure to follow the link and download the whole comic.

Museum of the Moon

This is installed in Ely Cathedral at the moment, and I got the chance to see it, and take some photos there earlier today. It's stunning...

Mission:Explore - a bit more

Post from Can of Worms, publishers of the first Mission:Explore books.

Here's our book launch video...

Happy Birthday to Mission:Explore

It's 9 years since we launched Mission:Explore. Dan reminded us all today...
We shared our copies of the book. Here's the incredible Tom Morgan Jones - the amazing illustrator of the books with his... he keeps them close...

And me with a couple, including one with the Short Loan Dymo labels we added when we were in Glastonbury back in 2010...

Second hand copies are available for around a pound on Amazon currently...

Humanities 20:20

A new manifesto for Primary Humanities has been launched today.

Visit the website, read the manifesto and sign it if you like what you see.

Primary schools have a duty to equip children for the challenges of the 21st century. We believe that the primary school curriculum in England is failing to do this or to fulfil the legal requirement for a balanced and broadly-based curriculum. Literacy and numeracy dominate the curriculum while other vital aspects of learning are often ignored. This is wrong.

We want young children to be literate and numerate, but much more than that. We affirm that every child is entitled to rich, stimulating and engaging learning experiences.

We want children to have more opportunities to be creative and to build on their sense of curiosity. We would like to bring more joy and imagination back into the classroom.


Sykes is a holiday cottage company.

They have produced a report on the UK tourist industry and the part that self catering cottage rentals pays in this. Plenty of interesting data and statistics for those who are teaching about travel and tourism in the UK.

Download the report as a PDF

Tourism impacts in Iceland

This was in the Guardian at the weekend.

“Rash behaviour by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows."

Justin Bieber shot a film in the canyon called Fjaðrárgljúfur

The canyon now has to be closed to protect it...

Villagers - finally here

Just under a year ago, I backed a game on Kickstarter, and yesterday it was handed to me by the postlady. 
It's a card game exploring the use of resources to build a village: strategy and luck combining over time. I'm looking forward to having a play - there is a solo mode as well as various other options. A review to come.

Draft and build a tableau of villagers to create the most prosperous village. A little game that feels like a much bigger one!


The Supplychainge Project is a group of organisations including Think Global from across Europe. Its main objective is to encourage supermarkets to become fairer and more sustainable.

In Autumn 2015, it published a report on Orange Juice production in Brazil. (PDF download)

Impact - more curriculum stories

Regular readers will know that this blog has a strong focus on curriculum ideas, thinking and resources. It was started when I got my job with the Geographical Association as Secondary Curriculum Leader, and spent the next three years travelling the UK and Europe and working to develop the curriculum in new areas, and promote the ideas of 'curriculum making'.

The Summer 2019 issue of the Chartered College of Teaching's journal IMPACT has just been published. Many of the articles are available to read online.

David Leat has an article which explores the value of adding the local into the curriculum.
Grace Healy has also contributed again, with a piece exploring the importance of subject scholarship for developing teachers who are both new to the job, as well as more experienced colleagues. It draws on work by Clare Brooks, David Lambert and others.

Worth taking a look at the articles online.

TES and Curriculum

"Work out how you want pupils to be changed by the curriculum, and work back from there. What we know changes what we see: it creates resonance, recognition and capacity for comparison."

Some interesting pieces in the first of 3 curriculum specials in the TES today.
Lots of overlaps with work I was doing a decade ago at the GA... 
The idea of a recipe sounds familiar.... "chop one red onion finely..."

It's worth getting hold of a copy, or copying the staffroom copy. Perhaps you could scan the pages and sell them on TES Resources?


I was pleased to see a piece in there by Kieran Egan. His work was underpinning the presentation I gave at the GA Conference on Curriculum as Narrative. The idea of a "Narrative Led Curriculum" connects with what Kieran has to say about the emotional heft of what we teach...

"The three general ideas about education cannot themselves be subjected to research about which is better: they are not empirical matters. If anything, they are more obviously matters of emotion—what people feel matters most about human life."

Dear Mr. Hinds

An open letter to the Education Secretary, published in today's TES:

Dear Sir,

We were collectively pleased to note the emphasis that has been given to good subject knowledge within the government's recruitment and retention strategy and in the accompanying early career framework. We wholeheartedly agree that developing teachers’ subject knowledge early in their career is essential for developing their expertise as quickly as possible, ensuring their self-efficacy and increasing the importance and value they attach to their professional development. These improvements would drive forward better retention rates, enhanced professional practice and improved outcomes for students.

There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that early career teachers are given an opportunity to gain the subject-specific expertise and pedagogic knowledge that could influence the rest of their professional lives.

New teachers need subject-specific mentoring

Conversely, a generic scheme would have little impact, and two consequences would follow from this lack of subject-specific support: the first is that early career secondary teachers would not develop as quickly or effectively as subject teachers as they might have done; the second is that they would be more likely to leave the profession in their early years.

We urge the Department for Education to consider the importance of subject-specific mentoring and professional development in the implementation of the early career framework. Our recommendation is that at least 50 per cent of mentoring and development time, especially for a subject specialist secondary teacher, should be dedicated to subject-specific aspects of professional learning.

Yours truly,

Alan Kinder, Geographical Association

Charles Tracy, Institute of Physics

Charlie Stripp, Mathematics in Education and Industry

Lauren McLeod, Royal Society of Biology

Marianne Cutler, Association for Science Education

Nicole Morgan, Royal Society of Chemistry

Rebecca Sullivan, Historical Association

Steve Brace, Royal Geographical Society

Tony Ryan, Design and Technology Association

Thought for the Day

Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories or common-sense advice.

Edward Miller

Survey123 - a new learning path

Jason Sawle and various members of the ESRI UK team (currently Katie Hall) have supported teachers for many years. It must be at least 15 year since I first met Jason.
They have now released a new resource with embedded videos for teachers who want to make use of the Survey123 App to collect fieldwork data.
Check it out here

Fieldwork Apps

TM Geography Icons - tickets still available

As we move towards the end of the Summer term, there is a new event on the calendar with the 2nd running of TMGeographyIcons, part of the wider TMIcons family started by our history friends.

The event will take place at the University of Birmingham.
Tickets are just £11.25, and teacher attendees will receive a refund of £10.

Here are this year's speakers, including our keynote for this year Jo Payne.


Also for those coming along, please respond to this questionnaire re freebies

Polar expedition

This is a useful Guardian article on a Polar expedition involving a photographer who is keen to explore Polar regions.
I've missed the actual exhibition as it finished earlier in the week.

“The melting of the polar sea ice is changing the map of the world for ever. By visiting all the affected regions and countries in one expedition and by showing how the different parties – starting with Russia and the US – are working to conquer the north pole, we will reveal how the impact of climate change in the Arctic is of global significance for the rest of the world.” 
Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir van Lohuizen

A geographer as Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage was announced today as the new Poet Laureate, replacing Carol Ann Duffy.

I've been aware of Simon Armitage and his work for many years, going back to when I was doing my degree in Huddersfield, and he was living nearby in Marsden.
He is the same age as me, the same age as Surtsey, about which he made an excellent radio programme - currently unavailable to listen to.
He studied Geography at Portsmouth University, which makes him a geographer too, of course.

Check out his poem Last Snowman, about Climate Change.

I've read much of his poetry, and all of his non-fiction work. An early favourite (from 1999) was 'All Points North': a meditation on what it means to be from the North, and about the North... Also check out the recent books where he follows long distance footpaths, including the Pennine Way.

Also check out his poem 'Poundland' from a recent collection.

New York 6 - Thursday

Final day in New York - organised the cases, and checked out of the hotel. 

We had a final day to explore and a few places to head for. I went alone across Central Park to the Explorers Club on 70th Street, and was able to take a look inside and look in the Members Lounge. Some interesting historical artefacts on the wall. Walked down Madison Avenue, and met up with the rest of the family at the Rockefeller Centre, and we went down to Grand Central again, and had lunch in Bryant Park. E L James was doing a book signing at the Barnes and Noble bookstore we went into.
Back to the hotel after a final trip to the Turnstyle Underground Market, and got the transfer out to the airport, and then through security and passport control, which took a while. Did some light shopping, and boarded the plane on time, but we were delayed taking off due to some late passengers, and took off just before 11 at night.

The New York adventure was over. Until next time...
More Flickr images here.

Image: Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license

New York 5 - Wednesday

This was a busy day, and another excellent one.

New York continued to amaze, and the weather remained ideal for exploring.

We headed for a rendezvous with a friend today. This took us down through the centre and then out to Penn Station and Madison Square Gardens, where we ate at the Tick Tick Diner. 

Out to the new redevelopment area of Hudson Yards, to meet up with my wife's college friend, who lives in the city, and explored this interesting new structure called 'The Vessel'. Tickets were released on the day.

We then walked the first half of the uptown end of the High Line, before heading down into Chelsea to find lunch in a classic New York BBQ joint.

My wife and daughter continued to explore, and my son and I took the subway to Astoria over on Long Island and visited the Museum of the Moving Image. This turned out to be excellent... cool, empty and hosting a wonderful exhibition on the life of Jim Henson, featuring a host of Muppets, Fraggles, Dark Crystal costumes et al, followed by loads of film props, scripts etc. and the costumes from the new Coen Brothers film: 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs'. A great visit, and then a quick subway ride back, and some food in the underground place we'd found before.

Packing the cases too sadly, and working out how to stay within the baggage limit.

Images: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

GA Conference 2019 - Post #16 of 16 - Shaun Flannery's official images

Bryan Ledgard had been taking the photographs at the conference for many years, bu this year Shaun Flannery was the one wandering the conference and capturing many workshops.
The official photographs are now available in this GA album on Flickr.

If you attended the conference, see if you can spot yourself...

Coastal impacts of extreme storms in a changing climate

A lecture given by Gerd Masselink. Useful for older students in particular.

Launching the 2019 Public Research Lecture series, Professor in Coastal Geomorphology Gerd Masselink shares his world-leading research with a look at the coastlines on our doorstep, the damage they've endured and the steps to recovery. This lecture took place on 23 January as part of the Research Festival 2019, a week-long showcase of our rich and varied research landscape.

GA Conference 2019 - Post #15 - Conference 2020: Geography really matters

As always, the last post in any series of posts on a GA Conference is the details of the next one, which is at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

This is going to be curated by Gill Miller, who has chosen the theme of 'Geography really matters'
Here's what she has to say:

As a community of geographers we know that geography matters – to us as individuals, to local communities, to national governments setting policies and priorities, to global players responding to international challenges and issues. However, many people don’t realise how central geography is to the way we live.
There are so many ways in which geography is fundamental to our lives, from physical landscapes, natural disasters, the characteristics of where we live, the energy we use, services we enjoy, the travel we undertake and the networks in which we engage. Geography gives young people a voice to speak up about their changing and interconnected world. It engages their curiosity and helps to equip them with the skills to investigate and engage with their local, national and global environments. Geography is a cornerstone in the continuing education of everyone, both young and old, helping to make us more effective local and global citizens.
We need to shout about the value of geography and its role in the development of our young people. It is time to remind pupils and parents, headteachers and school governors, politicians, businesses and media of geography’s essential value; to reinforce the power and contribution of geographical knowledge and understanding within ourselves as citizens and within our communities.
Consequently, I am setting our geographical community a challenge: undertake one activity in 2019-20 to show that geography really matters! It may be a letter to an MP or a government minister; a presentation to a school governing body; a group response to a local/national/global issue; a social media blog or vlog extolling the virtues of geography; a school-based activity …

Now is the time to take practical action to tell the world how important geography is and how much it really does matter.
Gill Miller, GA President 2019-2020
Join us in Guildford in April 2020.

The best way of getting really involved in the conference is to offer a session, and then present it.
It adds an extra frisson to your time, and you have a few months to get your proposal in...

Image: Paula Owens and I at a previous Guildford conference

Coastal Case Studies

Thanks to Josh for spotting this story on the satirical news site 'The Toot', which goes alongside other sites in similar vein, such as the Suffolk Gazette, with the excellent tagline 'you couldn't make it up'.

The Quirky English Countryside

I'm always interested in photographic projects which explore the UK, and its "sense of place" in an interesting way. Paul Hands has spent the last year taking a range of images around the UK, exploring the unusual and the quirky details that he spots. The images are taken with an iPhone, so this is a project that students could try as well.

Image copyright: Paul Hands

Environment Agency Report

Plenty on national and local news this morning following the release of a new Environment Agency speech on planning ahead for the impacts of climate change on coastal communities.

This was delivered by the EA Chair Emma Howard Boyd, and launched a new consultation on future flooding resilience.
You can read a full transcript of the speech here.

I was particularly interested in this section.

Only a third of people who live in flood risk areas believe their properties are at risk.

We need to build a nation of climate champions who understand their risk, are responsible for it, and know how to act on it.

We need to inspire people to take action before flooding hits. We will do this by educating young people about the risks through the school curriculum, by helping people to understand what action to take, and which services they can expect from public bodies.

We have a world class flood forecasting service that provides people, businesses, and the emergency services with information to help them prepare for a flood.

If you haven’t already, please sign up to our free flood warnings and find out why PREPARE. ACT. SURVIVE is the slogan for our flood campaign. It is information that could literally save your life.

As always, schools are mentioned, but of course we have been teaching about the risk of flooding for decades... and will continue to do so. Flood defences have, in the past, given a false reassurance that the risk is over. It is not.

A section in the speech which many news reports picked up on related to the possibility of moving communities:

“We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences,” she said.

She called for more to be done to encourage property owners to rebuild homes after flooding in better locations, and with improvements such as raised electrics, hard flooring and flood doors, rather than just "recreating what was there before".

However, she warned that in some places "the scale of the threat may be so significant that recovery will not always be the best long term solution" and communities would need help to "move out of harm's way".