Ghost Towns

I find it fascinating to think about the places human’s choose to call home. Some places are clearly understandable – like along a river – while others are rather perplexing. What might be even more fascinating than that are places we choose to vacate. That’s the topic of this blog post: 20 Abandoned Cities from Around the World: Deserted Towns and Other Derelict Places. It’s interesting to look at these cities and towns and why they no longer exist. Many are due to economic changes, while others are environmental related (note the one town that coated it’s streets in a component of Agent Orange to combat excessive dust!) While the images are brief and the descriptions more so, the list has moved me to examine a few more of these places in detail. Coming from a small (ish), decaying town that’s lost half of its population in under two decades, I can see that the subject is certainly relevant even today.

Wanna race in the Tour de France?

…. but you’re too lazy to train? Well the helpful people at Google feel your pain! Google has outlined the route of the Tour in their Street view application. You can “ride” the path using Street View and “experience” the Tour third hand! It’ll be just like you’re there, but only without the wind and the sun and the massive coronary someone like me is likely to have inside of 15 minutes after the first big hill.

Gas Prices Got You Down?

If you drove anywhere of note in the US this weekend, you couldn’t help but note the uptick in gas prices yet again. If you were wondering where might be the best place to travel in the future, gasbuddy.com has a nice heat map of gas prices in the US broken down by county (there’s also a link for a Canadian version as well).

Of course if you’re just plain fed up with the whole gas price issue, you could look into immigrating to this Danish island. The island has converted itself to 100% renewable energy sources through a combination of on and off shore wind (my personal favorites!), solar, and biofuels. I’m sure you could get an electric car over there if you wanted to chuck fossil fuels completely!

Interactive Map of the Midwest Flooding

If you’re not from the great mass of the middle in the US, some of these places mentioned in the news might be a bit obscure or hard to find. That’s why interactive maps like this one are so useful. If you’re curious about where the flooding is has been hitting the last few weeks, that map will help you track them. Most of the points feature an indication of historical river levels, projected levels, and current levels. A few of the points link to news items about that area. What would have been nice to see is an overlay that has the current weather forecast as well. While the map isn’t necessarily the most interactively useful, it does present a fairly accessible presentation of the data, which is always important.

EDIT: I’ve added the link. ‘Cause sometimes “multitasking” means “something doesn’t get done”.

All Aboard! California High Speed Train

Here’s an interesting little story – California is going to build a high speed, bullet style train that will travel between San Fran and San Diego. The train is expected to take upwards of $40 billion to build, but you’ll be able to make a 600 mile trip in a tad under 4 hours for around $70. That’s probably half the time it would take by car. Given it isn’t expected until around 2020, the price is probably roughly what we can expect to pay per gallon of gas!

WikiCrimes, Brazil’s police alternative

Just coming off a session where we were talking about how user generated content can offer great advantages to local communities it was interesting to read this article which talks about a new wiki map called WikiCrimes that allows users to report crimes and their location in Brazil. Apparently the Brazilian police do not provide access to crime data, plus there seems to be an underrepresentation of crime as people do not always report crimes. Given these issues there still seems to be some apathy about the mapping initiative not only from the police (which is expected) but also by some of the public. The BBC’s article is definitely worth a read to see an interesting take on public mapping.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Wiki pinpoints Brazilian crime

A Remote Tribe Goes High Tech With Google

The Surui people, who have been so remote in the Brazilian forests that they were only ‘discovered’ in 1969, have turned to the high tech tools of Google Earth to help them protect their existence. Initial contacts with outsiders led them to fight, but bows and arrows proved rather useless compared to modern weapons. Since then, they have negotiated a peace, but their lands are continuously encroached upon. Enter Google Earth, which the tribe uses to monitor treaty breaking moves by logging companies. The whole story is a testament to how far web mapping has spread into our modern (and sometimes ancient) lives.

Carbon Footprint Map of the US

Carbon Footprint Map
The Vulcan project is an interesting project out of Purdue University. They seek to “quantify North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at space and time scales much finer than has been achieved in the past.” They’ve just released a new carbon footprint map detailing fossil fuel based CO2 emissions from around the US. One of the interesting findings to come out of their effort is that we previously assumed that the North East portion of the country was the primary emitter in the country. Turns out while there’s a lot of truth in that, the coal fired plants of the South add nearly as much.

What’s interesting to me are the comments section of the Wired article that pointed me towards this site. People have come up with lots of interesting ways to expand and extend this research by including other bits of data, particularly human geography pieces.

Nonprime Mortgage Maps

As geographers, I know everyone out there is thinking, “I get the the home buying industry in the US is imploding like a black hole, but I still am having trouble understanding what’s going on.” Fear not dear reader, the wonderful people at the Federal Reserve have given us – Dynamic Maps of Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the United States! Now you can browse the mortgage meltdown in map form. All of the maps are color ramps with a few layers of reference data to help you find your way. You can search by zip code as well. My only issue with the maps themselves lies with the fact that it’s hard to see a lot of the graduations in the ramps, especially for themes with lower absolute numbers.