Rethinking the basics Our shortest story this month rather nicely sums up many of the bigger issues we tackle. Tobler’s law, sometimes referred to as the First Law of Geography, states that ‘everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things’. In light of recent events however (Covid-19, climate change), a group of scientists from Michigan State University has urged a rethink, arguing that solutions can only be found through broader views and collaborations (page 16). Dig into the academic paper and what the authors are really saying is: we are all more connected than ever. What happens on the other side of the world matters, and not just for the people who live there.
I was reminded of this throughout our longer features. On page 20, Mark Rowe takes on the huge subject of climate change in the USA. The list of regulations and environmental protections removed by Donald Trump during his four years in office is particularly shocking and, with the country responsible for 20 per cent of the emissions reduction targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, who sits in the White House really does impact every person on the planet. And again, on page 30. Guillaume Collanges and Sébastien Daycard-Heid meet the fishermen leaving Senegal for the ports of Spain and France. As people from Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, alongside trawlers from China, contribute to devastating overfishing, these men leave to make new homes in new countries, bringing with them their culture as well as their hopes and dreams. It all serves to prove the researchers from Michigan State quite right. Luckily laws can be changed – and thank goodness for that. Katie Burton Editor
‘To sit on the shore of Vigur island in northwest Iceland when it is packed with nesting eider ducks sounds like being surrounded by a crowd of scandalised gossips,’ says polar explorer Felicity Aston who recently relocated to the island (page 53). ‘I have begun to unconsciously adopt the two-toned “Oooos” of the eider – the Frankie Howard of the sea – and fear the affect might be permanent.’
4 . Geographical
‘The town of Joal depends on fishing for its survival,’ says Sébastien DaycardHeid (page 30). ‘If the decline in sardinella stocks continues, Senegal’s entire economy and food security will be in jeopardy. Already, many fishermen are emigrating because of the lack of fish and are trying to reach Spain.’ Daycard-Heid, along with photographer Guillaume Collanges are members of the Argos Collective.
‘I was positively surprised to meet the Brotherhood Social Club, who use fashion, joy and dance to fight the spiral of violence and drug abuse in the townships of South Africa,’ says photographer Isabel Corthier (page 64), who travelled to Cape Town with writer Stephan Van Diest to meet the group. ‘Above all, they do it without any support from outside.’
March 2021 Volume 93 Issue 03
Publisher Graeme Gourlay
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Cover image: Hurricane Florence makes landfall, NASA