The Geographer’s New Map, Part I

Recently, the crack team at tdaxp‘s Data Acquisition & Extrapolation Program (“tdaxp”) succeeded in planting a mole deep within an influential NGO in Washington, DC. This covert operative, known only as “Catholicgauze,” recently attended a lecture by Harm J. de Blij that was sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

“Harm de Blij on the Web” by H.J. de Blij,

“Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism” by Harm De Blij, 30 June 2005,

Usually when an organization like the National Geographic Society (which has been shy about the term “Society” as of late) brings a speaker who devotes most of his presentation to Global Warming, I, Catholicgauze, am very skeptical. However, after only one hour with this brilliant geographer I was able to see the problems (and some solutions) to three major problems the United States face in the early 21st century: Climate Change, Red “Anti-tdaxp” China, and Global “Anti-tdaxp” Terrorism.

I won’t waste time trying to give an adequate biography of Dr. de Blij because his website does an excellent job. I will only say that the Distinguished Geography Professor Dr. Gritzner and others consider Dr. Blij “THE” geographer.

Here is a breakdown of the Blij speech given Thursday, November 17, 2005 at the GrosvenorAuditorium.

Climate Change (Being the First Part)

Dr. de Blij believes in the Kyoto Protocol and efforts to obtain alternative, clean energy but views these options as being a good caretaker of the earth. He pointed out interesting facts on Climate Change.

The Ice Ages and periods in between are proof of climate change. He brought up how even in historic times natural climate change has affected man. When the Ancient Egypt was getting started records state that the Sahara was a savanna climate. Dr. de Blij said the Sahara dried up within 50-100 years. He recommended The Little Ice Age by Brian M. Fagan and referred to Roman Church documents which depicted Alpine glaciers swallowing up whole towns, monasteries, and villages.

(In an interesting side note: The Little Ice Age ended around 1850 with a warming trend that seems to be continuing. There was a slight reversal early on between 1860 and 1865. At the Association of American Geographers convention in 2004 I heard an interesting presentation from a professor from West Point who talked about how the cold snap made precipitation heavier than normal in the United States and affected both Union and Confederate armies with their long and short term strategic planning; i.e. one cannot march in the cold mud).

Dr. de Blij seems to have some sort of dislike toward The Economist magazine. An issue that irked Dr. de Blij was when an Economist editorial said even with climate change treaties in effect, climate change would continue for over 100 years. In one of his many “unpublished letters to the editor” Dr. de Blij responded by saying “I’m sure the world will be relieved that in only 100 years 4.5 billion years of change will stop.”

A surprising thing from this part of the presentation was reaction from the liberals with lesser authority in National Geographic. While Dr. de Blij agreed the increase of storms lately was a sign of global warming, he was more dismisses of human-caused reasons given. While it is clear he believes pollution does not help the problem, he was clear in stating Climate Change is natural. One liberal colleague of mine said in shock, “Doesn’t he know what he’s saying.”

The main point of this portion was calling attention the problem of climate change. A force which could melt glaciers at four miles a year (as what happened at the end of the last, “Wisconsin” Ice Age), cause the Black Sea flood by melting glaciers, or destroy the Sahara in less than a century is worthy of fear. Human reactions to climate change also are important. Barbarian raids on Han China, Western Rome, and the Byzantine Empire were motivated in part by climate change at the time. It is important, says Dr. de Blij, to make plans for every case scenario from catastrophic change to no noticeable change.

tdaxp‘s Comment: I thank Catholicgauze for his summary, and look forward to the next parts. I first leanred of the idea of quick yet natural climate change from Bell and Striber. Likewise, of irritation at The Economist from Derbyshire.

Written records of glaciers eating villages are scary. Check out Part II: China, Part III: Global Terrorism,” and the reaction of the blogs.

5 thoughts on “The Geographer’s New Map, Part I”

  1. “Data Acquisition & Extrapolation Program (“tdaxp”)”

    Is that what that means?

    I had figured that it was “The Dan Experience”, which is certainly is.

  2. Yup, you're right — that explanation of the name is fake. tdaxp is the da eXPerience. If Windows can be an experience, and Office can be an experience, I can be one too. 😉

  3. Yeah I figured that out after I left the comment. It was one of those “D'oh” moments where I wrote the comment before the light bulb went off.

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