Changing the World – Unknown Contributions

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Little Known

People Who

Changed the World

For many different reasons, the people on this list aren’t household names, but they had a major impact on the world. In some cases, there is something physically unique that is found only in them. Others have done something that has had a massive, rippling effect throughout history that we still feel today.

 Some of the people on this list, who are as anonymous to you as that weird neighbor you actively avoid when taking out the trash, are responsible for saving millions of lives. In other cases, they have caused millions of deaths. So again, probably like that weird neighbor.

10. James Harrison

In 1951, Australian James Harrison was 14 and had to undergo major surgery to remove one of his lungs. After he woke up from the procedure, his father explained to him that during his surgery, he was given 13 units of blood; all of it was from random strangers. As Harrison lay in bed recovering, he had time to think, and realized that without the donated blood, he would have died, so he vowed to donate blood as soon as he was old enough.

Four years later, Harrison started to donate, and not long afterwards, doctors noticed something unique in Harrison’s blood. What is unique about his blood has to do with blood group systems. There are 35 of them, and the most common is ABO. For example, most people have O-positive or A-positive blood.

The second most common blood group is the Rh blood group. The problem with Rh was that if a woman had Rh-negative blood and she was pregnant with a fetus that had Rh-positive blood, it would lead to rhesus disease. The disease caused women to develop antibodies that attack the fetus’ blood cells because they are foreign. This often resulted in brain damage and miscarriages. Thousands of babies died every year because of it.

What the doctors found in Harrison’s blood is a unique and very rare antibody. Using the antibody, doctors developed an injection called Anti-D that prevents rhesus disease; one of the first of its kind. As a result of his blood, it’s believed that 2 million babies have been saved.

9. John Bardeen

John Bardeen was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in May 1908, and was a gifted child. He enrolled in engineering at the University of Wisconsin when he was just 15. After school, he got a job as a geophysicist with Gulf Oil. He spent three years working as a geophysicist, but he didn’t care for the job so he went to Princeton and got his PhD in mathematical physics.

After a three year stint as a junior fellow at Harvard, Bardeen got a job at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1945. While working with William Shockley and Walter Brattain, they invented the transistor. Transistors could replace vacuum tubes in electronics, which were big and bulky, so with transistors, components and electronics could be miniaturized. Eventually, transistors would become important in the evolution of computers. For their work, Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956.

After helping create a life-changing invention, Bardeen went back to work on something that interested him throughout his life – superconductivity. Working with L.N. Cooper and J.R. Schrieffer, they developed the BCS theory of superconductivity, which is the foundation of all work in superconductivity that came afterwards. The theory explains why there is little to no electrical resistance when materials reach temperatures that are close to absolute zero. This theory led to inventions like CAT scans and MRIs. The theory also led to Bardeen’s second Nobel Prize for Physics in 1972, making him one of four people to win two Nobel prizes and the only person to win it twice for physics.

Despite winning two Nobel prizes that changed everyday life, Bardeen isn’t well known outside the world of science.

8. Olaudah Equiano

In contemporary times, we know that slavery is wrong. Enslaving another human is easily one of the worst things someone can do. It’s cruel and dehumanizing, to say the least. However, as you surely know, for a long time not everyone thought that way. Someone who is responsible for helping to change many minds on slavery was Olaudah Equiano.

Supposedly, Equiano and his sister were kidnapped at around the age of 11 by local slave traders in what is today Nigeria. They were separated days later, and Equiano was shipped to Barbados, where he experienced the horrifying middle passage, which is where slaves were locked in cages and shipped across the Atlantic from their homes in Africa to the New World. He eventually ended up in Virginia. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the story of his early life. However, after he arrived in Virginia, there are plenty of records to back up the claims he would later make.

In Virginia, he was sold to an officer with the Royal Navy and spent eight years traveling the seas. During this time, he learned to read and write. He was also given the name Gustavus Vassa. He was then sold to a merchant where he worked as a deckhand, a valet, and a barber. He also did some trading on the side, and within three years he made enough to purchase his own freedom.

For the next 20 years, Equiano traveled the world and became active in the abolitionist movement in Europe. But most importantly, in 1798, he was the first former slave to publish an autobiography – The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. The book was hugely popular and made Equiano a well-known activist.

What his book did was give a new perspective on slavery, because he gave a firsthand account. Thousands of people either read his book or listened to him speak, making him incredibly influential when it came to changing the laws around slavery.

The Slave Trade in England was finally abolished in 1807, 10 years after Equiano’s death.

7. Joseph Lister

Isn’t it nice that people have better than a 50/50 chance of living if they have to amputate a limb? Or how about the fact that people can now have surgery and not have to fight getting sepsis by only using hopes and prayers? Well, the person to thank for that is English surgeon Joseph Lister, who is hailed as the father of modern surgery.

Lister came up with common practices that are still used, and will always be used, by doctors and surgeons. This includes practices like doctors have to wash their hands and sterilize their surgical instruments. Which seems like amazingly basic stuff today, but somehow more amazingly, he was apparently the first surgeon to use methods that now just seem like common sense. He came up with the idea in 1865, based on Louis Pasteur’s theory that microorganisms cause infection.

While Lister was honored in the medical community, and had a mouthwash named after him, he never reached the fame that other doctors received despite developing techniques that have saved countless lives over the past 150 years.

6. Henrietta Lacks

Loretta Pleasant was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in August 1920, and she would later change her name to Henrietta. Her mother died when she was 4 and she was sent to live with her grandfather, who lived in a log cabin that had previously existed as slave quarters on a plantation. She shared a room with her cousin, David Lacks. 10 years later, when Henrietta was 14, she gave birth to a baby boy that David fathered. Four years later, they had a daughter, and then they got married in 1941.

In January 1951, they were living in Maryland and Henrietta went to the only hospital in the area that treated African-Americans, John Hopkins, because she had pain and bleeding in the abdomen. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. For several months, Henrietta went to get radiation treatment and during one of her treatment sessions, doctors took two samples of the tumor without her knowledge. Henrietta passed away on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31, but part of her never died.

For decades, scientists at John Hopkins had tried to grow tissue, but they weren’t very successful; usually the cells died after a few days. However, for some reason Henrietta’s cells were much more durable. Dr. George Otto Gey was able to isolate and multiply a specific cell belonging to Henrietta, making it the first time immortal cells were grown in culture.

The cell line, called HeLa, became quite popular in the scientific community and it was a crucial part of many important discoveries and breakthroughs. For example, it was used in the discovery of the vaccination for polio and her cells were used in the first space missions to see what would happen to human cells in space. The cell line was also important when it came to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and cloning. The cell line is still popular and there are over 10,000 patents that used the HeLa cell line in their development.

However, the family of Henrietta had no idea her cells were being used until 1970. For years they tried to gain control of the cell line with little success. Then in 2013, Henrietta’s genome sequence was published without the family’s knowledge or permission, which is a huge violation of privacy. After this happened, the National Institutes of Health asked two descendants of Henrietta’s to join the HeLa Genome Data Access working group, which looks at how the cells are used. Finally, the family gained a little bit of control over the cell line.

5. Mohamed Bouazizi

In 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi was 26-years-old and lived in the small, impoverished city of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Bouazizi was the main breadwinner for his family of eight, making his living from selling fruits and vegetables in a market. His family said that his dream was to buy a pickup truck to replace the cart that he used to sell his wares.

On December 17, 2010, a female municipal inspector named Media Hamdi confiscated Bouazizi’s fruit-weighing scales for not having a vending license. Bouazizi had been hassled in the past by government officials, but this incident got particularly ugly. Supposedly, when Bouazizi tried to pay a fine, or a bribe depending on who you ask, Hamdi became enraged.She supposedly slapped him, spit at him, and insulted his dead father.

Humiliated, Bouazizi went to the provincial headquarters to complain. When he couldn’t get anyone to speak to him, he went and got some gasoline. When he returned to the headquarters, he poured the gas over himself and set himself on fire. Bouazizi didn’t die right away, taking over two weeks to succumb to his injuries on January 4, 2011.

 Before he died, people were already drawing inspiration from his act of self-immolation. At the time, Tunisia was under the rule of the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who took over the country in a bloodless coup in 1987. Under his rule, corruption spread and unemployment, especially among recent university graduates, was very high in the country. When Bouazizi set himself on fire, it was falsely reported that he was university educated and despite it not being true, it made the narrative of his death more powerful to his fellow countrymen.

Nevertheless, Bouazizi’s death, that stemmed from his frustration of dealing with a corrupt government headed by a dictator, became symbolic and inspired mass protests in Tunisia. Due to the civil unrest, Ben Ali went into exile in early 2011 and in 2014, they had their first free and fair election since gaining independence in 1956.

These protests also inspired people in other countries in the area to protest, giving birth to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has led to three other dictators being ousted or overthrown and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

4. Rosalind Franklin

Born in 1920 in England, Rosalind Franklin decided at the age of 15 that she wanted to be a scientist. When she was old enough, she attended Cambridge University and at 26 she received her PhD in chemistry. After her schooling, Franklin began working with a technique called X-ray diffraction, which is using X-rays to create images of crystallized solids. This allowed her to look at something at a molecular level.

In 1950, Franklin went to work at King’s College in London. Her job was to use X-ray diffraction to look at DNA. During her time there, she came close to providing an answer to how DNA is structured, but she never got a chance to figure it out because a co-worker named Maurice Wilkins cheated her out of the opportunity to do so.

When Franklin started working at King’s College, Wilkins was on vacation. When he came back, he claimed not to know what Franklin’s role was in the lab and just assumed that, because she was a woman, she was there to assist him in his work. Franklin, on the other hand, did not know that anyone else was working on DNA, so she shared information about her work with Wilkins. Another problem was that Franklin and Wilkins had clashing personalities, leading to a contentious workplace. All of these elements would come together and forever change history, while completely cheating Franklin out of credit for her work.

In May 1952, Franklin and her PhD student, Raymond Gosling, captured an X-ray diffraction image called Photograph 51, which was a piece of DNA. Without her knowledge, Wilkins showed the picture to American biologist James Watson and when he saw it, something clicked. Watson and a molecular biologist named Francis Crick used Photograph 51 to write an article explaining that DNA had a double helix structure. The article was published in Nature in April 1953 and in it, they failed to credit Franklin for her contribution to the discovery.

At this point, Franklin’s relationship with King’s College was strained and the head of her department let her quit on the condition that she never again work on DNA. At her new job at Birkbeck College, she wrote 17 papers and her team created the foundation for structural virology. In 1956, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died two years later on April 16, 1958, at the age of 37.

Four years later, in 1962, Watson, Crick and, unbelievably, Maurice Wilkins were given the Nobel Prize for Medicine, but Franklin has never been given official recognition for her contributions to one of the biggest discoveries in modern science.

3. Norman Borlaug

Norman Borlaug was born in Cresco, Iowa, in March 1914. When he was 27, he got his PhD in plant protection. In the 1930s and 1940s, he went to work in Mexico and helped the farmers there by improving their techniques and methods. He also developed a special type of wheat for them, called dwarf wheat, which is ideal for being grown in Mexico. By 1956, thanks to Borlaug’s work Mexico had become self-sufficient with wheat.

Around the same time, other countries around the world were experiencing population explosions and their governments were having a hard time producing enough food for all their citizens. Two countries that were plagued by food shortages due to increasing populations were India and Pakistan. During the 1960s, Borlaug brought his techniques and dwarf wheat to India and Pakistan, which improved their agricultural systems immensely.

In 1970, Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but the award never made him a celebrity. Instead, he continued to work in developing countries, trying to improve their agriculture systems, for five decades. It’s believed that because of Borlaug’s five decades of work, a billion people were saved.

Borlaug, who is considered a central figure in the Green Revolution, died in September 2009 at the age of 95.

2. Dona Marina

Dona Marina was born with the name Malintzin around 1501 to a noble Aztec family. Her father, who was a chief, died when she was very young. Her mother remarried and that marriage produced a son, and most likely at the urging of her stepfather who wanted his son to be chief, Malintzin was sold into slavery.

She was sent to the city of Tabasco, and by the time she arrived she could speak the languages of both the Aztecs, which was called Nahuatl, and the Mayans. In 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in the city of Tabasco, and he was given 20 female slaves, which he baptized. One of those slaves was Malintzin, who he christened Dona Marina.

Not long afterwards, Cortés learned that Marina could speak both Mayan and Nahuatl. This was important because Cortés had a priest who was a slave that could speak both Mayan and Spanish. Using the two interpreters, Cortés passed along messages of peace to the leader of the Aztecs, Montezuma.

Marina, who clearly had a gift for languages, quickly learned to speak Spanish and Cortés used her as an interpreter when his forces started to attack non-Aztec cities. What would happen is that the Spanish would attack the non-Aztec Indians, but then back off. Marina was then brought in to negotiate peace. Part of the negotiation was that she also asked them for their help with Spain’s upcoming war against the Aztecs. The non-Aztec Indians agreed to help not only to save their own cities from the Spanish, but also because the Aztecs used their cities as farms for human sacrifices. They hated it, but they were never strong enough to do anything about it.

All of Marina’s work would pay off for Cortés and the Spanish forces because when they invaded the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were surprised because they thought that they were coming in peace. In fact, they welcomed Cortés and his men in their city. Not only was their guard down, but since the Spanish had forged alliances with the non-Aztec Indians, the Aztecs found themselves outnumbered and out-weaponed and they were conquered in just two years.

Besides helping with the logistics of bringing down the Aztec empire, Marina was also Cortés’ mistress. She got pregnant and gave birth to a son, Martín Cortés, making him the first Mestizo, which is a person who has both European and Amerindian blood.

While Marina could be considered a traitor because she did help foreigners take over her native land, the people of her time respected her. She is credited with saving thousands of lives by being able to negotiate peace instead of Cortés declaring all out war.

Of course, the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs not only gave birth to the country of Mexico, but it also led to the colonization of South America.

1. Gavrilo Princip

We told you at the beginning, not everyone on this list is responsible for lives saved. Now we get to millions of lives that were lost. While there were many contributing factors that led to the start of World War I, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is considered the spark that set it off.

On June 28, 1914, Ferdinand, who was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was doing a tour of the newly acquired state of Bosnia. A group of Bosnian-born Serbs weren’t happy they were now under Austrian rule, so they decided to assassinate the heir to their throne.

The most famous version of the story is that a grenade was thrown at the motorcade by Nedeljko Cabrinovic, but it was an old grenade and had a 10 second fuse on it. So it didn’t do anything to Ferdinand’s car, instead causing chaos that led Ferdinand’s limo to flee from the motorcade. Cabrinovic then swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped into the river. However, the pill was past its expiration date so it didn’t kill him, it just made him sick. Also, the river was only four inches deep, so he was arrested… a sequence so hilarious we wish footage existed so we could set it to the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song.

Anyway, one of Cabrinovic’s allies, 20-year-old Gavrilo Princip, watched the failed assassination attempt, and decided to leave. He walked a few streets over to a deli, where he ordered a sandwich. Meanwhile, Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, who had been hiding out in the town hall, decided to go to the hospital to visit the men who were injured by the grenade. However, along the way their limo driver got lost and they ended up on the same street where Princip was eating a sandwich. Seeing his opportunity, Princip pulled out a pistol and fired two bullets; the first one hit Sophie and the second hit Ferdinand. They were both killed in the shooting and Princip was arrested.

It’s certainly an interesting story that a series of coincidences sparked the First World War, but it’s probably not true. First off, sandwiches weren’t really popular in Bosnia at the time. Secondly, while Princip was still standing outside of the restaurant when he killed the Ferdinands, it was a restaurant on the original route the motorcade was on before it was sent off course by the bomb.

Nevertheless, in October 1914, Princip was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but died on April 28, 1918. While he may be the best known person on this list, he’s still not a household name considering his actions directly started the First World War, which left 80 million dead, and World War I directly led to massive historical events like the rise of Hitler, the Russian Revolution, and ultimately World War II.


Changing the World

– Unknown Contributions

Incredible Maps – WIF Geography

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Cool Maps

of the Modern World

(and Beyond)

Mapping things is an incredibly useful tool for humanity. By analyzing a given situation or development and then putting the results on a map, scientists and researchers can better understand and predict future trends around the world. And more detailed that map is, the more accurate the predictions are. Now, maps don’t even need to be about something in particular to be cool or entertaining, but the more they are about something, the better… right? So with that being said, let’s take a look at some of the maps out there and see what we can learn from them about the world we live in… and beyond.

 10. Lights On Lights Out

With so many satellites orbiting our planet these days, it’s almost impossible for a person with access to the internet not to see the occasional photo of the Earth at night. But to their benefit, these maps are downright amazing and cool in their own right. And knowing how big the planet actually is by comparison to humans living on it, it does kinda make it look like we’re a bunch of bacteria that have just recently evolved to glow in the dark, right? Well, keeping in the spirit of mapping out the changes happening on Earth, cartographer John Nelson has made a map showing the changes in man-made light intensity around the world. He called it the ‘Lights On Lights Out’Map. He overlapped NASA’s 2012 Earth at Night map with the one from 2016. And in doing so, he was able to show the world what regions of the planet have been lit up more, while others dimmed over the course of four years. To mark the changes, he used the color purple to highlight the regions that become darker, while cyan stands for an increase in illumination.

Now, the map doesn’t explain the reasons for the changes in light intensity, but we can deduce them in some places, at least. The first region of the world that catches our eye is India. Without a shadow of a doubt, India has brightened over the past four years. The reason for this is the Indian government’s project to bring electricity to its rural areas and investing heavily in renewable sources of energy. Syria, on the other hand, has become dimmer. This might not come as a surprise, given the conflict happening there. Surprisingly enough, Puerto Rico is also dimming, but the reason is their fight to curb light pollution. In the United States, North Dakota has developed a huge bright spot – which is the result of the boom in the fracking industry there. Other regions’ change in light intensity is harder to explain. For instance, while Georgia is getting dimmer, the two Carolinas are brightening up. One explanation for this could be that these states have taken a different approach in regards to street lighting infrastructure.

9. The Gini Coefficient Map

Source: https://assets.weforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/1511B11-global-inequality-work-map-GINI.png

According to the World Bank, the Gini coefficient “measures the extent to which the distribution of income among individuals or households within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution.” In other words, it highlights the difference in wealth and income between citizens of any given country, while at the same time taking into account other various factors such as taxation or social assistance. The figures range from zero – which represents perfect income equality among all citizens – to 100 – which expresses complete income inequality where only one person holds the entire wealth of that country while the rest have nothing. Both 0 and 100 are hypothetical scenarios, mind you, with no country being in either situation, but ranging somewhere in between. According to the CIA database, the countries with the highest Gini coefficient are Lesotho and South Africa, with 63.2 and 62.5 respectively, while on the other end of the spectrum we have Finland with an index of 21.5, and the Faroe Islands with 22.7.

Now, in and of itself, the Gini index doesn’t tell us all that much about the state of an economy or the general well-being of the citizens. A relatively poor country like Romania, for instance, has a coefficient of 27.3, whereas the United States is at 45. This index is often used as a frame of reference, and in combination with other statistics, in order to better understand what a country is doing right or wrong. For example, poorer countries as a whole have a higher crime rate than richer ones. But by combining this information with the Gini coefficient, it turns out that the crime rate usually drops the lower their respective coefficient is. There are, of course, other factors at play here, like the quality of education, but the trend is there. The same thing applies to richer countries as well.

Similarly, by combining the Gini index with the Human Development coefficient we can deduce which countries have or don’t have a broad middle class – the backbone of every thriving economy. Super wealthy people tend to hoard their earnings in bank accounts, never to see the light of day again. They might buy a yacht or a mansion (and even a mansion they’ll likely see as an investment as much as a dwelling) now and then, but most of their money will never return to the economy. The middle class, on the other hand, has enough saved for retirement while at the same time is able to invest in both business and pleasure – which in turn generates more business, an even wealthier and broader middle class, and a stronger economy in the process.

8. The Greening Earth

Source: https://i2.wp.com/gypsy.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/image-20160422-17390-1nsul4k-1.jpg?ssl=1

Over the past three decades, the planet has become greener and greener. This might seem a bit counterintuitive given the high levels of deforestation, and other such man-made activities, but believe it or not, this increase in vegetation is also because of indirect human involvement. Like with all carbon-based life forms on Earth, plants need carbon to grow. And with more CO2 in the air these days, it’s no wonder that plants have seen rapid growth in some areas. This phenomenon is known as CO2 fertilization.

“We were able to tie the greening largely to the fertilizing effect of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration by tasking several computer models to mimic plant growth observed in the satellite data,” says Prof. Ranga Myneni of the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. And this increase in leafy growth is not marginal, either. According to the study, the Earth has experienced a total of over 7 million square miles of greening since 1982. That area equals twice the size of mainland USA. This might seem as good news, given that more plants means less CO2 in the air, but this development may have some unforeseen side effects as well.

For starters, much of this greening has happened in areas previously unsuited for it – places like semi-deserts or arctic regions. Furthermore, the extra foliage in these areas can have unknown effects on the water and carbon cycles in nature that can negatively impact other regions in unexpected ways. It’s also important to note that plants can and will acclimatize to these rising CO2 levels and the effect of this fertilization will diminish over time. This trend has been observed in various experiments, as well as the fossil record from when the Earth had high levels of CO2 in the air.

7. Livestock Density

As we’ve said before, mapping things out can have a wide range of unexpected uses. By gathering information about something and then placing it on the map, researchers can determine with greater accuracy certain patterns or future events. And mapping out the density of livestock around the world is no different. In fact, the International Livestock Research Institute, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Environmental Research Group of Oxford, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles have all come together for this one. They’ve mapped out the overall density for cattle, pigs, chickens, and ducks for the entire world. And while it’s definitely interesting to see that neither Africa nor South America have any interest in raising ducks, and not surprising that Muslim countries have a general dislike for pork and India is full of cows, it’s also fascinating to see that Europe has a somewhat even distribution of all types of livestock over its entire surface, unlike most other places on Earth – except maybe China. But while these are more cultural factors than anything else, there are other reasons for the creation of these maps as well.

One such reason is acid rain. Acid rain forms when there are large quantities of ammonia in the air, and livestock are responsible for 68% of all ammonia in the atmosphere. This means that areas with high concentrations of livestock are more prone to this phenomenon. Large numbers of cattle are also responsible for land degradation in the form of trampling, which can cause a change in the natural water cycle. A high density area of livestock also produces large quantities of waste that ends up polluting rivers and lakes. And we should not forget the risk of disease. Domesticated animals have always played an important role when it comes to disease. Various strains of influenza, like the infamous swine and avian flues can and have jumped to humans. By knowing where the high risk areas are, scientists and governments can better prepare in case of a possible outbreak.

6. Fukushima and the Pacific

Source: https://i0.wp.com/ta1.universaltelegra.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/fukushima.jpg

On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since record-keeping began in back 1900. The undersea megathrust earthquake occurred some 43 miles off the coast, registering a whopping 9.1 on the Richter scale. The Japanese Prime Minister called it “the most difficult crisis for Japan since WWII.” Almost 16,000 people lost their lives, another 2,500 went missing, and more than 1.1 million buildings were either partially or completely destroyed. Tsunamis reached 6.6 feet high as far away as Chile, some 11,000 miles away, while in some parts of Japan, particularly in Miyako city, the waves were almost unimaginable – 128 feet high. The tsunamis also severely damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, damaging six reactors and leading them to release their radiation into the air and the ocean. Now, despite the Japanese’s best efforts at containing the problem, the power plant is still leaking, six years after the event.

This map shows how much of that radiation has spread throughout the Pacific Ocean ever since. But Ken Buesseler from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tells us that the map, though accurate in the spread of radioactive material, can be misleading. He and his team have been studying the radiation leak ever since it started back in 2011. He went on to say that the rate of radionuclides release has slowed down significantly since the first month of the disaster, and it would take another 5,000 years before the plant will release the same amount of radioactive isotopes that it did during the first month after the meltdown. Most of the isotopes released have a short half-life of decay, spanning from a few days to a few months. Only cesium-134 has a half-life of 30 years, but as it spreads over the ocean, its radioactive power dissipates. The highest levels of cesium found in the ocean were some 1,500 miles north of Hawaii, but even if someone were to swim in these waters every day, the dose of radiation would be 1,000 times smaller than a single dental x-ray. He also goes on to say that we shouldn’t disregard additional sources of radiation in the ocean above the natural sources, but even the waters surrounding Japan are safe to swim in and there is no threat to marine life.

5. Beyond the Sea

Source: https://i1.wp.com/andywoodruff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/australia.jpg

Almost anyone who has ever gone to the beach has, at least once, wondered what piece of land or country lies over the horizon. To answer that question, the people at the Washington Post have come up with a series of maps that put different countries on different continents on the same latitude across the oceans. But cartographer Andy Woodruff wanted to go a step further. He argued that coastlines aren’t actually straight lines – they bend and curve in all directions. So, depending on where you are on the coast, and assuming that you’re perpendicular to the ocean, you could actually be facing faraway places, uninterrupted by other landmasses. For instance, if you were to stand on a piece of coast in Southern Australia, depending on your angle, you could be looking straight at the East Coast of the United States. Incredible, right?

Well, yes and no. Our constant exposure to the world map that we’re all familiar with makes it kinda difficult to come to terms with this, but it is true. The Earth, as we all know, or should, is a sphere, and the shortest way between two points on the planet is actually a great circle arc, not an actual straight line drawn on the map. Another misconception that comes from looking at flat, rectangular maps is that Earth doesn’t really have any edges, or ups and downs for that matter. The continents are also skewed in size and shape, depending on how far away they are from the equator. So, the next time you see Antarctica covering the entire bottom of the map, know that its actual size is close to Brazil’s. With that in mind, if you were on the coast in Newfoundland, you could look all along the Atlantic, around Antarctica and onto Australia’s southern coast.

4. Large Mammals With or Without Humans

Source: https://i0.wp.com/gypsy.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/413.jpg?ssl=1

It does seem kinda strange that Africa is the only continent in the world today that has large mammals, right? Okay, there are still bears and tigers on other continents, yes, but where are Europe’s equivalent to giraffes, or North America’s hippos, or Australia’s own type of rhino? The short answer is that they’re all gone. Now, of course these continents never had those species of animals in the first place, but there were once giant wombats, giant kangaroos, and large birds at least until humans made it to Australia. In Asia and Europe, cave bears, Irish elks, cave hyenas, and woolly rhinos were roaming the lands up until the end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. And let’s not forget America’s own giant sloths, car-sized armored herbivores, and the famed Saber-toothed tigers. What happened to them? Well, the answer is kinda obvious, isn’t it?

In case it’s not, let’s discuss it a bit. One reason could be climate change. After all, the planet was emerging from an ice age, and there were changes happening that could have affected some of the animals. But as Yadvinder Malhi, professor of ecosystem science at Oxford University said:

Creatures like megatherium, the giant sloth, and the glyptodon, a car-sized species of armadillo, disappeared in North and South America about 10,000 years ago, when there were major changes to climates – which some scientists believe triggered their extinctions. However, it is also the case that tribes of modern humans were moving into these creatures’ territories at these times – and many of us believe it is too much of a coincidence that this happened just as these animals vanished. These creatures had endured millions of years of climate change before then, after all. However, this was the first time they had encountered humans.”

These maps show the current distribution of large mammals around the globe and their possible distribution if humans didn’t exist.

3. Ideological America

Source: https://i0.wp.com/gypsy.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/upinarms-map-large.jpg?ssl=1

“The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty. In order to have any productive conversation on these issues you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from it will help move the conversation forward,” says Colin Woodard, an award winning journalist, who also conducted the research for this map. Illustrator Brian Stauffer is responsible for the creation of the actual map. Based on their research into ideology, Stauffer divided North America into 11 distinct nations.

One of them is Yankeedom and is comprised of the Northeast and the Great Lakes region. According to Woodard, the region put a “great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders.” Then there’s New Netherland, made up of the lands surrounding New York City. They are “materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience… It emerged as a center of publishing, trade, and finance, a magnet for immigrants, and a refuge for those persecuted by other regional culture.” Tidewater is made out of part of North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. They started off as a feudal land that embraced slavery.

The Midlands are described by Woodard as “America’s Great Swing Region.” It’s an ethnic mosaic tied together by the “inherent goodness” of the Quakers. South of The Midlands we have Greater Appalachia. During the Revolutionary War, they shifted their alliances depending on who“appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom.” The Deep South was made by slave lords from Barbados who styled their society based on the West Indies. New France has two separate areas. One is centered in New Orleans and the other is in Southeastern Canada (so, centered in French Quebec, obviously). These are quite liberal, and are a “blend of ancient régime northern French peasantry with the traditions and values of the aboriginal people.”

The region of El Norte is characterized as “a place apart” and heavily influenced by Hispanics. They value independence, hard work, and self-sufficiency. The Left Coast is a sort of combination of Yankeedom and Greater Appalachia. The Far West region is by far the largest, and was influenced mostly by the harsh environment, rather than by the ideology of the first settlers there. And lastly, the First Nation is inhabited by Native Americans that never truly relinquished their lands or old ways of life. Located so far north, it’s also the most sparsely populated.

2. Our Fair Share of Arctic Ice

Source: https://i1.wp.com/gypsy.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/sea_ice_web.jpg?ssl=1

It’s no surprise that the Arctic Ice is melting at an alarming rate. And it’s no surprise either that we’re all to blame for it. Now, when talking about air pollution, people are quick to point the finger at China – and with good cause, too. It’s the world’s leading polluter, after all. But there’s more to the story than that. China is also the leading producer of renewable sources of energy, particularly when it comes to solar panels. To date, China is spewing roughly twice as much CO2 into the air as the United States, but its population is more than four times as large. This means that on average, each US citizen is responsible for two times as much CO2 than an average person from China. But this doesn’t make the average American the most pollutant person, either. By looking at the CO2 emission per capita in every country, we see that China is at 6.52 tons of CO2 per person, while the US is at 17.62. Saudi Arabia and Australia are at 19.65 and 18.02 respectively. In India, every citizen is responsible for just 1.45 tons.

Now, what this map shows is the amount of arctic ice melt every person in the world is responsible for, based on the CO2 per capita in their respective country. Dirk Notz, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany has made the calculations to see how much carbon is needed in the air to melt the ice. And as it turns out, each ton of CO2 emissions translates to about 3 square meters, or about 32 square feet. Based on data from 2013, each US resident led to the melting of about 49 square meters (527 sq. feet) of ice in the Arctic. This map and these numbers shouldn’t be taken as a means to pass blame on others, but rather as a way to look at ourselves and what we can do to lower our own CO2 emissions. Air pollution, after all, doesn’t keep track of national borders, so we’re all in this together.

1. The Geological Map of Mars

Now, we can’t go through an entire list of maps about the modern world without addressing the Red Planet. Mars is, or will soon be part of the modern world, so we need to have it in here.People have been studying Mars and have been trying to guess its geology for the past 400 years. But it was only during the 1970s with the Mariner 9 and Viking programs that we were able to take a closer look. In more recent years, however, with the advent of high resolution cameras and sensors, astronomers were able to pinpoint with even greater accuracy the entire geology of the planet. An interesting feature visible even for those who have no idea at what they’re actually looking at is the fact that the Northern Hemisphere is basically one large depression – seen on the map in green. The crustal thickness here is approximated at a maximum of about 20 miles, whereas the southern part of the planet is at 36 miles.

Close to the equator on the Western Hemisphere, we can also see some of the most striking features the Red Planet has to offer. On the one hand, we have Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the entire solar system. It’s actually three times the size of Mount Everest, and covers an area roughly the size of Arizona. Close to it rise another three huge mountains, and all of them are shield volcanoes. This means that every time there’s an eruption, there’s no volcanic explosion, and the lava gently slides along their sides. We still don’t know whether these volcanoes are active or not. That’s probably for the future colonists to find out. Hope they have fun with that!

Another equally striking feature is the Valles Marineris. This is the largest canyon in the entire solar system and sits there like a huge scar on Mars’ face. To understand its immenseness, know that it stretches for 1,900 miles, is 500 miles wide, and 5 miles deep. The Grand Canyon, on the other hand, is 500 miles long, 18 miles wide, and one mile deep. Its creation still remains a mystery, but some speculate that it initially formed as a crack that got wider and wider as the planet cooled. Now, if you think that geological maps of Earth are important, you can only imagine how important this one will be for the people who will hopefully call Mars home one day.


Incredible Maps

– WIF Geography

Russia – Enough Said

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We Should

Be Scared

of Russia

 

Russia has been talked about in the news a lot in the past several years, and has garnered an incredible amount of attention in the USA of late. They have been accused of hacking a political party’s files in order to favor one over the other. They have been accused of blackmailing our politicians and planting their own agents. They have been accused of spreading a huge amount of fake news throughout our country, in order to change the course of the general election.

 On top of that, some in Europe believe that President Vladimir Putin was pushing for Brexit to weaken the EU, because he would like to take back more of Eastern Europe. While it would be nice to consider this alarmism, he has already taken Crimea, half of Ukraine, and doesn’t seem interested in stopping anytime soon. Below are 10 reasons why we should keep a careful eye on Russia and their actions over the next several years.

10. They Shut Down Estonia’s Internet Infrastructure For Almost a Month

Estonia is an Eastern European country near the Russian border, and they are actually quite unique when it comes to any country in the world, because they rely on the internet for almost everything. They use the internet for paying parking fines, voting, paying utility bills and taxes, and almost anything else you could imagine. Children in Estonia are taught to use the internet properly in school at a young age, and it is considered one of the most tech savvy countries in the world.

That’s why, in 2007, Estonians understandably freaked out when their internet infrastructure was hit by a cyber-attack that managed to keep the entire system down for three whole weeks. Estonians are understandably worried that it was a test for a possible Russian invasion down the road. Estonia was once part of the Soviet Union, is seeded with ethnic Russians so Putin could attempt to pull something similar to Crimea, and with their infrastructure down, it would be hard for them to resist the chaos Putin could create. With the recent aggressive moves by Russia both in terms of cyber-crime and their continuing ventures in Ukraine, Estonia fears they may be next and is preparing for war.

9. The Russian Mock Invasion That Would Take Key Islands From Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden

Some may think that Russia would never dare go that far into Eastern Europe, or really keep pushing at all much beyond Ukraine. However, people back during WWII said that Hitler would stop after he took the Rhineland, and they were very, very wrong. The truth is that Putin has no reason to stop unless someone makes him, and he has already taken Crimea and roughly half of Ukraine. While some may be skeptical, back in March of 2015, Russia conducted a mock set of invasions that were set on the rather insane and clearly made up idea that the West was trying to physically overthrow Putin and pull off some kind of coup.

In response to this fake threat, the test invasion conducted would have them take away key islandsfrom Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, making it almost impossible for the NATO allies to come to the rescue. While the Russians tried to give a flimsy pretext that it was in response to a Western based attack, that doesn’t really hold water, because the real strategic value of those islands is that it would cut off the Baltic States from NATO. This means that Russia would be able to easily take Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and force them back into the Soviet Union, and it would be almost impossible for NATO to provide any kind of proper support or help. The fact that Russia put so much time and effort into practicing such an attack is troubling, to say the least.

8. With the EU Increasingly Weakening, Russia is in a Stronger Position to Invade Eastern Europe

When the Brexit vote occurred, Putin tried to remain indifferent on the surface, but many experts believe he was very excited. The main thing that stops Putin from taking back the former Soviet States is a strong European Union and a strong NATO, which kind of coincide in a lot of ways right now. Unfortunately, both NATO and the European Union are in historically weak positions, and it seems like that problem is only going to increase as time goes on. With the United Kingdom out of the EU, it is possible more people could leave, and it may be much harder for the Western Europeans to mount any kind of proper defensive support if Putin rolls into Eastern Europe.

This also hurts the sanctions put on him by the United States and the European Union, as the sanctions are only as strong as the united front the countries performing them keep up against the Russians. If the European Union continues to dissolve, Russia will have more negotiating power with individual states, and will find it easy to bully small European countries with their comparatively large economy. In the end, both in terms of potential invasions and in terms of negotiating power, the Russians win big whenever Europe becomes weaker. To make matters worse for the Eastern Europeans, we have a US president who knows little about NATO and campaigned, in part, on it being obsolete (though he’sfinally coming around on its importance), and cares about our agreements to protect small countries even less.

7. Russia Today is Kremlin Controlled and Russian Fake News Propaganda is a Global Machine

President Putin tries to dance around the issue, so it isn’t quite as obvious to everyone, but the truth is that Russia Today might as well be Putin’s personal blog. It is funded, owned and operated by the Kremlin – in other words the Russian government. The government claims that it is not totally government controlled, but Putin also admits that it should kind of be expected that they will say things that are positive about the government and its agenda. While not saying it outright, it is clear the purpose of Russia Today is simply to spread the Kremlin’s propaganda all over the world. It is perhaps one of the most unreliable sources on the planet, but many people who see Russia Today in other countries do not realize just how unreliable it is.

To make matters worse, a lot of fake news regarding the US election was traced right back to Russians, and there is reason to believe many of them were even paid trolls. Despite America’s best efforts to handle its own elections, it is scary to think how easily the Russians have managed to manipulate emotions and decisions simply by posting fake stories. If that wasn’t enough, there is reason to believe that a lot of similar propaganda is being spread in Europe as well, in order to weaken support for the EU and bolster the image of Vladimir Putin around the world.

6. We May Call Putin a Tyrant, but He’s Extremely Popular in Russia

Putin may be a man who is very interested in conquest, and he has some very grand plans. For this reason, many people like to put him in the realm of comic book villain, and look at him as a truly evil individual. While he does support a lot of draconian laws, especially against gay people, the truth is that Russia has always had very fascistic laws and very little freedom. The Russian people are fairly used to hardship, rationing, and not having a particularly strong say in government. When it comes to being a fascist, if anything Putin is lenient compared to some of the leaders of the past. What this means is that while he is dangerous to us, when we act is if he is horrible to the Russian people and posit the possibility of them one day rising up against them, it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of our Russian rivals.

We assume that they have the same priorities we do, but they simply don’t. Americans are more concerned with individual freedoms and don’t particularly care about refighting old battles. However, when Putin took back Crimea, it came with a great surge of popularity back home, because he was bringing back a certain amount of Russian pride as well. The Russian people felt stronger, and better to know that Putin was bringing back the old Soviet Union. Many of them now see him not as another politician, but as a transformational figure that has helped bring Russia back to what it once was. Russians still complain about politics and the country in general, but Putin still keeps his approvals in the low 80s, and even watchdogs from other countries believe the polls are at least mostly accurate. We aren’t saying Putin is a nice guy, but it is important to understand the people you are up against. We may not like Putin, but the fact that he is popular at home is not just Russian propaganda.

5. Putin Has Consolidated Power and May Very Well be President for Life

One of the things that makes it harder for a country like Europe or the United States to deal with threats from dictators is that the dictator has the advantage of remaining in power forever, consolidating his holdings, making him capable of carrying out truly long term plans. On the other hand, countries like the USA have regular elections that change our governmental leaders, which means we constantly have to refresh our policies to deal with the latest threats. Every president will have a different idea on how to deal with our foreign enemies or rivals, and that means an entirely new road map. In the meantime, someone like Putin can remain in office for nearly two decades, ensuring he can slowly work on his goals.

Putin was first term limited, then made a new position for himself that was above the president to get that problem out of the way. Then, he managed to become president again after taking care of the pesky term limit issue. And, while he hasn’t said he will run yet, many expect him to run again next year, and with his popularity, it would be hard for him to lose unless something catastrophic happened to Russia to completely tank his poll numbers. And with calls from some within the

Russian government for Vladimir Putin to remain president for life, it seems clear that has been the plan for quite some time now.

4. There’s a Possibility They Have Blackmail Material on the US President

While we know that Donald Trump has business dealings in Russia, which have been the subject of much suspicion and rumor, and that many in his campaign were said to have contacted Russia during the campaign, which has led some to believe that there is far more to the story. According to a dossier of information, much of which is hard to verify, Trump visited Russia as part of a beauty pageant, and while staying in a hotel room, he got up to some antics that were quite risqué and embarrassing. Heallegedly had prostitutes pee on a hotel bed that had once been used by Barack and Michelle Obama.

And according to the dossier, the Russians had been monitoring this room, and now have incredible dirt on Trump. Due to his many business dealings with them, and this blackmail they had, they decided to push him toward politics, and did their best to help him succeed, because they believed that they could use their blackmail to get sanctions lifted or other pro-Russia policies put in place. Of course, there is no proof that this blackmail exists, or that the event occurred as alleged, but the thought that they have blackmail on our president is very troubling. And even if they do not have that kind of blackmail, the fact he once admitted to having a large amount of business dealings with Russia, and would not disclose his taxes, still makes things suspicious for other reasons.

3. The Gay Concentration Camps Currently Operating in Chechnya

Right now in Chechnya, a region which is now part of the Russian Federation, gay people are being rounded up like dangerous animals and either tortured for days on end or killed. These men are being held in what are essentially being described as concentration camps for gay people. Bounties are being paid for gangs of mercenaries to round up gay men wherever they can find them. This includes their homes, secret gay hangout spots, and they will even perform sting operations to find gay people.

There are reports that they are receiving beatings and electric shocks, and are sometimes even being released simply so they can be re-caught for sport, and so that the hunter can double dip on the bounty for the captured gay person. Some are blackmailed and threatened with much worse torture or death if they don’t pay large sums of money – because being gay is illegal in Chechnya, these men are all too eager to agree to avoid even worse punishment. Unfortunately, the only group that really has the power to stop this is the Russian government, and they are denying that there is any purge going on. Considering their knowledge of what happens in their territories, it boggles the mind that they do not know. And when you look at their own reputation when it comes to gay people, the sad truth is that the Kremlin likely understands what is happening and approves of it – gay people are not welcome in Russia.

2. Russia Currently Has the Largest Active Nuclear Stockpile in the World

When most people think of the most powerful nuclear country, they tend to immediately think of the United States. But the truth is that Russia actually has a slightly larger stockpile of nuclear weapons than the US does – this includes both stockpiled warheads and those that are fully operational and ready to go. The United States has close to 7,000 nuclear warheads, but Russia has over 7,000, beating the US by a small margin. They also have about forty more active nuclear warheads than America does, with both countries having close to 2,000 that they are ready to launch. Some may think China is close, but they actually don’t have any operational warheads at the moment. The next closest countries are actually France, with a few hundred, and the United Kingdom, with a little over 100 in terms of operational nuclear weapons.

For this reason alone, Russia has to be respected. With one of the largest economies, areas of sheer territory, and that many nuclear weapons, they are a very strong force to be reckoned with. A ground invasion of Russia has already been proven to be all but impossible, and a serious air battle would lead to them threatening nukes against the US. In the meantime, it is hard to prevent Russia from taking back countries in Eastern Europe without starting some kind of full blown war, or threatening the use of nuclear weapons – an empty threat because we know Russia could respond in kind. Due to being such a strong nuclear power, apart from fighting proxy wars over the ground Russia is trying to occupy, there isn’t a lot we can do to slow them down.

1. Military Service is Compulsory for Young Men, so Nearly All Russian Males Have Military Experience

The Russians are also dangerous because nearly every male of any decent health has at least a few years of military service under his belt. The Russians have made it compulsory for young men between the ages of 18 and 27 to serve in the military so that every capable citizen will be ready if necessary, and also to keep the military strong, full, and well-disciplined at all times. Now, draft dodging is fairly common for this reason, as not everyone wants to join the military, but it can actually be quite hard to do. Without a legitimate medical reason, you often need to pay thousands of dollars for fake documents to forge your way out of it. And you may still be caught and forced into service anyways, especially if you try tricks like staying at a different address than the one you put down officially.

And despite the draft dodgers, this means Russia still has a very, very large portion of its healthy young men learning the ways of the military lifestyle, and how to fight and die for their country if needed. With a percentage of men with military training much higher than that of other countries, they have a very large pool of capable people to pull from if they end up in any extended wars or conflicts spread throughout the world. Some countries near Russia, such as Sweden, have recently added compulsory military service in order to prepare for the potential threat they see coming down the road. The world has to be very watchful of Russia, and those who live in Eastern Europe have the most to fear.


Russia

– Enough Said

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 191

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 191

…What you see is what you get with candidate Roy and what you get is an ambitious agenda…

The informative exercise called a news conference is something that a president, or a would-be, must handle himself. The Press Secretary can be a stopgap mouthpiece, but when it comes to the Washington Press Corps, face-to-face access to the leader of the free world is a very necessary evil and Roy Crippen best acquaint himself with those assigned to report on his campaign.

As the general election rapidly approaches, Roy is pressed on issues that do not have the slightest thing to do with the subject of space. That is where Charlotte Walker comes in handy. As an unconventional non-politician that he is, she embodies the savvy he lacks. As an added bonus, she has an enlightened bent that sets her apart from party regulars.

They often share the podium at these pressers, projecting themselves as a true team, an elected duo who will to tackle the tough issues head on. What you see is what you get and what you get is an ambitious agenda:

  1. Reducing the size and scope of the Federal Government
  2. Cabinet positions halved or quartered
  3. Continuing campaign funding reforms
  4. Replacing welfare with a public service contract
  5. Mandatory high school graduation, with a goal of graduating 150,000 US born engineering students/yr
  6. Discontinue America’s “Policeman of the World” policies that drag the USA into regional conflicts we do not fully understand
  7. Individual state autonomy, including single states that embrace like-minded policies like:

a) Religion

b) Fiscal responsibility

c) Gun control

d) Crime-free zones

Roy will forever trumpet his own vested interests related to the obvious:

  • A meteor defense shield (that replaced the missile defense shield and prevents the 10,000 lb. strike that wiped out Madagascar in 2027)
  • Space Colony II (its immediate construction and deployment)
  • Accelerated funding for the Steven W. Hawking Foundation sponsored SOL Project (achieving the speed-of-light and Earth-like planet/colony search)

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 191


page 228

Contents TRT

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 177

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 177

…The world as we know it has an expiration date, unless we reach for the stars…

Roy continues his Chicago campaign speech.

“Think about it closely. Picture the world within the framework of our children and our grandchildren, not just our own short lifetimes. A watershed moment is at SOL-logohand my fellow citizens of planet Earth. What if we do not deploy a Space Colony II? What if we don’t achieve the speed-of-light and aggressively fund the SOL Project? What if we sit on our butts without giving ourselves a hand up and out, settling for the status quo?

“There is a simple answer to those questions; the what-ifs and should-haves will be our ultimate undoing. The world as we know it has an expiration date, unless we reach for the stars. As President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, I will work tirelessly for the purpose of our participation in the greater galactic neighborhood we refer to as the Milky Way. I invite the rest of the world to join us in speeding up the technological processes necessary to accomplish these things before the end of this decade.”

The huge gathering in the Hilton ballroom has been clobbered over the head with a sledgehammer. They have been told, ‘You are trapped in a burning building and there is one way out… will you get out or will you perish in the flames?’

The worldwide digital audience, the national addressees in particular are cautiously enthusiastic. All of Crippen’s futurist views are outdone by the lack of the long awaited announcement of his vice-presidential running mate, but no one dare doubt his reasoning. It is hard to doubt someone so prepared, so sincere. Freelove’s camp is especially anxious to have another person to sling mud at, seeing that mud just doesn’t stick to Roy Crippen.

At the reception following his “Space Speech”, aspiring first lady Francine is at his side, amid all the optimistic talk. He treats his campaign people like royalty and their loyalty is secure. If someone dares to falsely accuse their candidate of wrongness, be prepared for a fight.

One such loyalist compliments Roy on his tie. He knows most by name, “Why thank you Barb. Francine picks out all my clothes. Without her fashion sense, I would be wearing dirty jeans and Bart Simpson tee-shirts.”

Francine rolls her eyes.

Barbara Z. laughs like it was the funniest thing she has heard in a year.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 177


page 213

Contents TRT

World Urban Extremes – WIF Geography

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Most Extreme Cities

in the World

As of 2008, for the first time in human history about as many people live in urban areas as suburban or rural ones. That means there are a lot of people who think that they deal with greater levels of traffic, more crime, more overcrowding, and higher costs of living than residents of places they consider barely populated backwaters.

 Well, those urbanites have something to consider: They live with country bumpkin-levels of those problems compared to the denizens of the following cities. Depending on the city in question, that makes them much more fortunate, or unfortunate, than the occupants probably realize.
Now, it’s important to remember, when we say “extreme” we don’t mean these are places where you should grab a Mountain Dew and a snowboard, bruh. These 10 cities, instead, exist at the extreme edge of various spectrums. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

10. Largest Population

This is one of the more contentious records as far as cities of the world go, since during rush hour or big events they can all feel like they’ve got the most people in them. Some of the most populous cities in developing nations have very outdated, underfunded bureaucracies which can make an accurate census report difficult to acquire. This is especially true for two of the leading contenders, Jakarta, Indonesia and Delhi, India. But even the highest estimates put them at the city the World Atlasclaims is the world champion: Tokyo, Japan.

As of November 2016, Tokyo’s population was reported to be roughly 37,830,000 residents. To put that very large number in perspective, the population of Japan is reported by the CIA to be roughly 127,000,000 people. More than a quarter of the island nation’s population is located in one urban area. And yet, it’s by no means the largest city or the most crowded.

9. Largest Land Area

In July 2016, Guardian magazine said that urban areas were expected to triple in size over the next forty years. That’s also probably how long it will take any of the fastest growing cities to overtake the current largest urban area in the world. The champion city in that regard is unquestionably New York City, New York, with a metro area of 8,683 square kilometers (or 5,395 square miles if you’re going to use the imperial system like a true American).

It’s over 1,700 square kilometers more than Tokyo, the next largest urban area. It’s also nearly as large as the entire state of Connecticut (5,543 square miles). As it happens, growth in New York City has been slowing as recently as 2016. So it’s not out of the question for the little joke from the start of this entry that some other city will overtake it in the coming decades will have some truth to it.

8. Most Densely Populated City

As heavily populated and vast as New York and Tokyo are, they’re not even close to the most crowded, even if stories of people having to pay hundreds of dollars to live in closets might give that impression. After all, they are cities with large numbers of wealthy inhabitants who can afford decently-sized apartments and houses  No, you have to go to the developing world to find places where people truly have no elbow room. Not even to a notoriously crowded city like Hong Kong. It’s one which many people in the Western Hemisphere haven’t even heard of, let alone a famous city.It’s Dhaka, the largest metropolis in Bangladesh.

At 16,235,000, its population is roughly a million less than that of the New York Metro area, but it’s less than 125 square miles in size. There are more than 110,000 people per square mile, and considering that the Telegraph reported that it was rated the second least livable city in the world, the housing is overwhelmingly slums. Unfortunately for many of the people who already live there, it’s only going to get worse in the immediate future because it’s also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

7. Most Expensive City

The average person on the street would probably guess that the answer is New York City again, considering it’s a city where a single riverside house can go for as much as $130 million. But we live in a rapidly changing world, so we have to look across the Pacific once again to find the real ‘winner’. As of 2014, that honor swung over to Singapore, particularly due to the rising cost of utilities, food (11% higher than New York City), clothing (50% higher than New York City), and vehicular ownership. Not owning a car won’t save you that much: Singapore’s other transportation methods are three times more expensive than NYC’s.

This dubiously desirable record was still held as of 2016, though it’s been so volatile that it dropped and rose 10% during the time in between. With that in mind, such a volatile economic status means that a bust that leaves it one of the cheaper cities to live in might be around the corner.

6. Healthiest City

It’s time for us to look at an unambiguously positive record for a city to have, for a change. From clear air initiatives to encouraging cycling, many cities are going out of their way to increase the longevity of their citizens. The front runner is, once again, a city that’s not particularly famous. It’s the city-state of Monaco, which is totally surrounded by France except for a coast along Mediterranean Sea. You’ve probably only heard of it either if you’re into Formula One racing, or because you’re a fan ofGrace Kelly. It’s only about two square kilometers (1.24 miles) with a population of only roughly 38,000. Odds are you’ve only heard of it for how ridiculously small it is compared to most nations.

 However, Monaco exists in no small part as a tax shelter, and thus it has drawn a highly disproportionate number of wealthy people. So not only does it have enough people who can afford top-of-the-line medical treatment and lifestyles, it has taken on green initiatives and has many electric cars for government employees, driving down illnesses caused by emissions. The result is the residents have an average life expectancy of a staggering 89.6 years. Perhaps the city-state doesn’t seem so silly now?

5. City with Worst Traffic

Even people who’ve been stuck in traffic for hours doesn’t really understand how bad it can get. Imagine that the worst traffic you’ve experienced was not only significantly worse, but that such an amount of traffic is effectively routine. If you can imagine that, then you’ve just pictured life for the average driver in Mexico City, the city which has held the title for “Worst Traffic” for multiple years. It’s also the only country in the Western Hemisphere in the top five.

During regular hours, a driver in Mexico can expect a trip to take at least 66% longer to reach the destination than if there was no traffic congestion. When rush hour comes around, however, this will balloon to around 101%. Every driver can look forward to spending an average of just under an hour a work day stuck in congested traffic. Even factoring in days off and other times that might help them avoid the worst congestion, the average person in Mexico City will still spend 227 hours a year stuck in traffic, or just over nine days total. It’s frankly kind of amazing enough people are willing to put up with that, to the point where the traffic can remain so bad.

4. Most Impoverished City in the World

It’s no surprise that the poorest city in the world is located in an area that was torn apart by civil war for decades. Even 14 years after the end of a 23-year civil war, Monrovia, Liberia can hardly be described as having recovered. It’s the largest city in Liberia and the capital, with a population of roughly one million. Despite that, amenities most people take completely for granted are generally out of the question for them.

Public transportation is limited to sparse private taxis. Electricity is utterly unreliable, leaving such devices as ATMs and credit card readers out of the question. Those with access to electricity aren’t supposed to use it between 2 and 6 a.m. Monrovia’s plumbing infrastructure is so insufficient that only one third of the population even has access to a flush toilet. They have to rely on makeshift latrines or even public spaces. Even for those whose toilet functions, the sewage system for the city is failing, leaving the sanitation bad enough that it’s no surprise the city was hit by an ebola outbreak.

3. Happiest City

Okay, since that was pretty grim, let’s lighten the mood by focusing on something positive. It might seem difficult or unscientific to quantify something as abstract as the happiness of a city. However, the design and consultation firm Arcadis’s method for determining it still seems pretty credible. It was to take the balance of the population’s health, the amount of prejudices the citizens faced and expressed, the levels of education, employment levels vs. cost of living, and the crime rate. After crunching the available data of all that, the city in question turned out to be none other than Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. You might think that a city that is constantly threatened with nuclear destruction by a notoriously unstable neighbor would make the city more paranoid, but this does not seem to be the case (it undoubtedly helps that North Korean missiles are infamously unreliable).

Unfortunately for fans of small government, this success is attributed in no small part to extensive urban planning. Seoul’s government also heavily favors globalist policies. Maybe you feel living in a happier city might not be worth accepting all that, but it feels like something worth considering.

2. The Most Homicidal City

Let’s get the most negative one out of the way. Many people believe that cities are inherently more violent than rural areas (although a study published in 2013 showed that cities actually aren’t any more dangerous than less populated areas), so they’ll assume that the most violent one must be practically a free-fire zone. That city would be Caracas, Venezuela, which is also that nation’s capital.

As the World Atlas reported in February 2017, the capital’s murder rate reached 119.87 per 100,000 people, meaning that with a population of 2.1 million, 2,517 homicides will occur there in a year. It’s one of only four cities in the world where the murder rate is more than 100 per 100,000. To give an idea just how much homicide there is in Venezuela, there are two other Venezuelan cities in the worldwide top ten for homicides a year. It’s more than double the homicide rate of St. Louis, Missouri, which now has the highest murder rate in America per capita. It’s also not a brand new development. Even back in 2011, Caracas’s murder rate became notorious when it rose above Baghdad’s. Hopefully there’s still time for anyone reading to cancel their plans to take a vacation there.

1. Oldest City in the World

We’ll conclude this list with a neutral fact. In this case, we don’t mean which was the first city ever built (evidence indicates this would be long-abandoned Jericho of Old Testament fame). What we’re looking for is which city has been continuously occupied since it was founded for the longest time. You might think it’s somewhere in Africa, where humans first evolved. Maybe you assume it’s somewhere in Eastern Asia? How about in the Middle East, where Mesopotamia is known as the Cradle of Civilization? Turns out it’s the last one, and it’s a city that likely will be quite familiar to anyone following current world events. As reported by The Guardian magazine, it’s poor, war-ravaged Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, that has the strongest claim.

Aleppo was first founded as a city circa 6,000 BC, because it occupied easily defended, hilly terrain. Its easy access to the Queiq River connected it to what’s now the nation of Turkey, and made it a valuable trading center for millennia. Being located in the notoriously volatile Middle East has meant it was conquered and reconquered many times by many empires including the Assyrians, Egyptians, and so on. So while it’s currently experiencing extreme turmoil, we can be assured that it will be able to recover eventually. It certainly has plenty of times in the past.


World Urban Extremes

– WIF Geography

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

…And they shall turn their Plowshares into Space Colonies…

Space Colony2

Roy Crippen shares his view of the future.

Sometimes it is a curse to have a clear view of the future, knowing precisely where the planet is heading, if it chooses to remain isolated from the rest of the galaxy. “How shortsighted,” he would say. Earth has already squandered most of its non-renewable resources that it started with when modern man took over management some 8000 years ago. 8 x 1000 is a long time, but it is in the last 150 that 99.9% of it has been stripped away.

To impart these gloomy predictions, without looking like a doomsday-ist, he must convince the naysayers that the quest for space and the benefits from its demands is worth it. Everyday things like plastics/polymers, adhesives, and batteries have all had their biggest advancement because of the stress of space.

When his opponent speaks to people who don’t care that space-induced innovations keep their digital devices stay charged for 12 hours or that Gorilla Glue will mend just about anything they break, Vice President Sylvia Freelove will pounce on space expenditures and label them wasteful, when that money could be spent clothing and feeding the poor.

“Reaching for the stars do require a financial commitment,” he goes on to say that early autumn Chicago evening, “but please consider the alternatives:

  • Global overcrowding and hunger—some countries are running out of suitable ground.
  • Dwindling lumber & copper/iron resources—deforestation is at an all-time high & recycling can only provide enough metal.
  • Fossil fuels reserves are hovering on empty—how do we heat our homes or meet the needs of a mobile society.
  • Hopelessness is the dominant worldview—left with a barren planet that has been hollowed out by mining, drilling, and plundering.”

His presentation has such detail that even the graphs have charts and it is evident that unless Jesus Christ returns soon, the situation is bordering on dire.


THE RETURN TRIP

Dire Wolf Forest Spirit Original by Erin C Potter

Episode 176


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