Have done a major revamp of my eBook 'The Rise of China in the Global Economy' which is targeted at A Level Geography teachers and students. China is always in the news but there is a lot of sensationalism and exaggeration in the reporting of events, policies and issues emerging from the country. Hopefully, this books provides a balanced assessment of China's economic, political, social and environmental changes, making it useful to anyone teaching or learning about this global superpower. I'm working on the paperback version which will be ready sometime in May.
Chapters: The Emergence of China as an Economic Power; Regional Development and Inequality in China; The Economic Challenges Facing China; China’s Role Abroad; China’s Environmental Legacy.
New or updated content includes: The growth and importance of Guangdong province (including the ‘Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area’); the ‘Great Western Development Strategy’; the transition to high-tech industries (including the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan); US-China trade war and technology tensions; development of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.
New Digital Resources
A change of school brings new challenges, including teaching some geographical content that I haven't had the need to look at for many years. The Coastal Environments unit brings back memories of A Level fieldtrips to Dorset and Hampshire, conveniently combined with taking students to Dean Court to watch Tuesday night football matches under the lights, while also enjoying great hospitality from the staff at AFCB (no shortage of available seats in the days before Premier League fame!). I have added 10 new digital resources for the CIE Coastal Environments unit, and more will follow shortly. Some resources for the Settlement Dynamics unit will also be added in due course. Keep coming back to see what new material is uploaded.
Have just published a major update to 'The Causes and Consequences of War in Afghanistan' which is available as a Kindle eBook and Paperback. As with all my books, there's lots of content relevant to Geography, History, Politics and Economics to support A Level & IB teachers and students. The book examines the nature and origin of conflict in Afghanistan since 1979, the economic, social and environmental impacts of the war, and the ongoing role of geopolitics in the country's instability. There are also sections on the UK's involvement in Afghanistan, conflict resolution and the development challenges facing Afghanistan. The length is just over 26,000 words, but there are plenty of headings, summaries, images, discussion and multiple-choice questions to make the content more accessible and enjoyable.
Have just published a major update to my Kindle eBook 'The Rise (& Fall) of the BRICS in the Global Economy'. The book contains chapters on the BRICS as an economic and political group, as well as separate chapters charting the economic, social and political development of each of the 5 countries. Data and events from the past 12 months have been added to bring the BRICS up-to-date, as well as discussion questions and 130 multiple-choice questions for a more interactive and educational experience. At almost 54,000 words it's my longest book, but frequent headings and summaries make the content accessible for both teachers and students. Hopefully, it will be of interest to some of you!
Digital Resources - An Update
I have redesigned the digital resources page. Now that I am teaching the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) A Level Geography syllabus, I have decided to use the CIE topic headings. Hopefully, it will be easier to navigate to the resources of interest for teachers/students of the CIE syllabus. Feel free to download and use these resources for educational purposes within your institution. With the hectic first year of teaching a new A Level (and GCSE) syllabus coming to a close shortly, there will be more time for me to add further resources that I have created for classroom and homework use. Please take another look at the digital resources page in a few weeks.
If you purchase a Kindle or iBooks version of any of my books, and wish to have a PDF copy for use within your institution, please email me with proof of purchase and I'll email back with the PDF attached. Thank you to everyone who has shown interest in my Geography books.
Afghanistan's Unwinnable War?
The horrific vehicle bomb attack that killed dozens of mainly Afghan civilians in Kabul's diplomatic quarter earlier today, a place within the city's fortified 'Green Zone', is the latest depressing event in the country's descent into instability and chaos since the Taliban, who had briefly appeared defeated after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, mounted their comeback around 14 years ago. Since the withdrawal of most of NATO's forces in 2014, the situation on the ground has become bleaker with every 'spring offensive' launched by the Taliban. Today, as much as one-third of Afghanistan is under Taliban control, Islamic State is a dangerous foe on the scene, and the stalemate between these warring factions and the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani shows no sign of abating. The question is whether the US and its NATO allies will feel that sending more troops to Afghanistan is the only option to break the stalemate. The evidence from the past does not inspire much confidence in the effectiveness of the military response. Diplomacy is clearly fraught with challenges, but remains Afghanistan's best hope for a more stable future. A power-sharing deal involving the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan could well be the best outcome for the country, but whether the two sides are prepared to negotiate such an agreement is debatable. Only time will tell what the future brings for Afghanistan, but its ordinary citizens are long deserving of a settled and prosperous nation.
Source: UNAMA Annual Report (2016) on Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
Once Upon a Time in Russia
I am currently reading Ben Mezrich's book - Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs and the Greatest Wealth in History. The book covers the chaos, extreme danger and widespread corruption that emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union - a period that saw the privatisation of many state-owned enterprises through "loans for shares" auctions that enabled the new private owners to become billionaire oligarchs. The book looks at the rise and fall of one of these oligarchs - the so-called 'Godfather of the Kremlin' Boris Berezovsky - as well as his relationships and dealings with Alexander Litvinenko and Roman Abramovich. In addition, the unexpected rise to power of Vladimir Putin, and his role in the fate of the oligarchs is explored. A fascinating read.
Once again the people of Haiti in the Caribbean have found themselves at the mercy of the forces of nature. Not even close to making a full recovery from the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake, the ferociousness of the 145 mph winds, torrential rain and storm surge brought by Hurricane Matthew meant that hundreds of thousands had no hope of surviving the storm unscathed. While much of the media's attention was focused on the possible harm that Hurricane Matthew might inflict on the US East Coast, the real story had already unfolded on Haiti, where towns, such as Jeremie bore little resemblance to their previous incarnations. Haiti's fragility, linked to poverty and ineffective governance, exacerbates its vulnerability to natural disasters, preventing most of its citizens from breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Haiti most certainly needs outside help at this tragic time, it also needs leadership and vision from within, not forgetting a break from mother nature for the rest of this century.
Apple: Technology & Tax
The much anticipated iPhone 7 materialised this week, and no doubt it will help to lift Apple's sales given the crucial importance of the iPhone product line to Apple's revenues. Lots of fuss in the media, and especially social media, about the demise of the traditional headphone jack, but, like it or not, Apple has always been quick to get rid of what it sees as legacy technology. Naturally, there is the unhappiness that such a mega-rich company is likely to make even more money from the new wireless headphone opportunity brought about by the change. Meanwhile, the tax affairs of Apple continue to stir debate. The European Commission's demand that Apple should repay Ireland €13 billion in back taxes, having benefitted from 'illegal' tax deals with the Irish government, illustrates the wider power struggle between transnational corporations and governments in running and controlling the global economy. Interestingly, Ireland and the US are both siding with Apple, although for very different reasons. Ireland wants to remain an attractive low-tax destination for foreign direct investment, while the US government is concerned that Apple will offset the extra tax demanded against tax due in the United States. Whatever the outcome of the expected appeal, Apple is likely to remain the most profitable publicly-traded company in the world, while dividing opinion on the costs and benefits that TNCs bring to the global economy of the 21st century..
Nature: Powerful & Destructive
Two events, at very different scales, from the past week remind me of how humans remain at the mercy of the natural world. Firstly, the tragic deaths of five young men who were apparently enjoying a game of beach football on one of the sand bars at Camber Sands in East Sussex, shortly before becoming overwhelmed by the incoming high tide. Secondly, the horrific loss of some 300 lives caused by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli and the surrounding area in Italy's central region.
For geographers there are also issues behind these stories to consider. The tides are particularly dangerous at this time of the year around Britain's coastline, due to a combination of the approaching equinox and the lunar cycle of spring tides. But, are the authorities doing enough to communicate the risk to holidaymakers not familiar with the local conditions? Is it acceptable that cost-cutting has led to the removal of lifeguards from beaches such as Camber Sands? And, who is ultimately accountable for public safety?
The destruction of so many churches and medieval buildings in central Italy that lacked modern earthquake-proofing measures, and the appalling consequence on loss of life, should serve as a wake-up call to the world's richest economies. For even in these countries, a combination of insufficient building regulations, inadequate investment, denial of the hazard risk, and the undoubted complexity of retrofitting older buildings, are contributing to an unacceptably high loss of human life. This needs to change.
Author: Peter Lowe
I am particularly interested in the geographical dimension to conflicts, as well as the geographical aspects to development and globalisation issues.