Monday, October 8, 2018

Aral Sea: Fast Fashion

When I first started teaching back in the 1980s (I know), a key case study for environmental change, and also the management of water resources, was the decline in the Aral Sea. I had an old VHS tape which followed the tale of the sea's shrinking, with details of the canning factories which were closed, and the ships which were left stranded in the desert that consumed the area. Nick Middleton later visited during his 'Going to Extremes' series, which we also used to show (and there is a matching book also)
He visits Voz Island, which is contaminated due to its location where salt has been exposed at the surface as the sea evaporated....



A Global Oneness project resource explores the latest ideas relating to the Aral Sea too, and there are some useful resources here.
Images by Taylor Weidman are used in this resource.

The tourism aspects of the Aral Sea were picked up in a recent Guardian article too, which shows the possible rehabilitation of this environment, which also could be used as a venue for a music festival. This sounds like an interesting opportunity for the region, and moves away from the idea of dark or disaster tourism.
Interesting description of the area though:
Visitors to Moynaq, a forlorn Uzbek town, are usually disaster tourists coming to gawk at the desolation of the apocalyptic landscape, where the carcasses of ships rot on sand once covered by the world’s fourth-largest lake.

You can see the changing Aral in NASA images from the Earthshots website.
A quick check on ESRI StoryMaps library reveals this map too.


Also in the recent (and rather wonderful) William Atkins book on deserts, there are some alternative perspectives on the area, with a fantastic chapter on the Aral Sea, which is really worth reading.
The area could be turning round, and there are hopes that the sea may begin to grow again in the future.

And the Aral Sea came back to TV tonight with its inclusion in Stacy Dooley's Fast Fashion documentary.

Stacey Dooley travels the world to uncover the hidden costs of the addiction to fast fashion. She sees for herself how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry pollute waterways that millions of people rely on. She witnesses the former Aral Sea, once one of the largest bodies of fresh water, now reduced almost entirely to dust.
These are shocking discoveries likely to make you think twice about whether you really need those new clothes.

A lot of people on Twitter were amazed that an entire sea could disappear just to provide cotton. Just ask a geographer if you want to know more...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New poetry from Rob Hindle



My good friend and poet Rob Hindle is back with a new collection, and this time he has turned his attention to the Great War, as we approach the centenary of the Armistice.
The book is called 'The Grail Roads'
Some details on the poems, with a mention for Edward Thomas are included

I've been in the footsteps of Edward Thomas several times, when heading down to Bedales School for my annual visit.

Via Longbarrow Press.

The ribbon of land that runs through north-west France and into Flanders is always being turned over. Each year, the ploughs of French and Belgian farmers uncover shrapnel, bullets, barbed wire and artillery shells; an ‘iron harvest’ that takes in the jumbled debris of the Hundred Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and, in particular, the First World War.

The Grail Roads digs deep into the cultural strata of these conflicts, and is haunted by their correspondences and echoes, from Agincourt to Arras. The poems reimagine the ‘quest’ of Galahad, Gawain, and other knights of Arthurian legend, displaced from their familiar mythology and recast as British soldiers on the Western Front. As the war turns attritional, the vision of the Grail darkens; one by one, the men are gathered into a dream of ‘a first and final home’ beyond the wrecked landscapes.

The Grail Roads is a story of loss and reclamation, estrangement and fellowship, in which we read the human cost, and human scale, of every journey and battle.