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.
The first set of downloadable resources are available on the digital resources page. These give a flavour of the content and style of some of my iBooks. Feel free to download and use for educational purposes within your institution. To get the full interactive experience, the iBooks versions are obviously better - but of course not everyone has access to a Mac, iPad or iPhone (the screen size of the latter is also an issue). You can download the South Korea and Sri Lanka iBooks for FREE from the iBooks Store, and the other iBooks are available for a modest price. I'll be adding plenty of other resources that I have created for classroom use shortly so please take another look at a later date.
I am currently reading Emma Sky's book - The Unravelling; High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. The book describes the challenges of nation building, and how the overthrow of an authoritarian regime can lead to state collapse and conflict. It provides a fascinating insight into post-2003 Iraq, the challenges faced by the US-led Coalition, and the conditions that allowed Islamic State to rise to prominence. This unique story of Iraqis and Americans, and of soldiers and civilians, was gleamed while Emma was working in Iraq, initially as civilian representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Kirkuk, and then as political advisor to General Odierno. Highly recommended reading.
Author: Peter Lowe
I am particularly interested in the geographical dimension to conflicts, as well as the geographical aspects to development and globalisation issues.