Materials that linger: writing about geographies of polyester clothes

By Chris Gibson

Writing journal articles can be a real struggle. Ideas take a while to form. The writing doesn’t flow. Draft papers that muddle along in need of restructures and a bloody good edit.

But sometimes, they’re just meant to be. These are my favourite papers to write. And they often come from nowhere, like bolts of lightning. They aren’t typically pre-planned; they disrupt orderly writing plans and publications schedules. But in my experience, it is the serendipitous ones that most often make the best papers. They take little time to actually pull together, and often sail through peer review.

Elyse Stanes and I had just this experience recently. Continue reading

Why money can’t buy disaster resilience

Every year disasters take lives, cause significant damage, inhibit development and contribute to conflict and forced migration. Unfortunately, the trend is an upward one. At the end of May 2017, policy-makers and disaster management experts from over 180 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss ways to counter this trend.

Florian Roth and I took the opportunity to reflect on the root causes of natural disasters Continue reading

AUSCCER at the IAG Brisbane 2017

Next week fourteen AUSCCER and fellow UOW researchers will be presenting at the Institute of Australian Geographers Annual Conference hosted by the University of Queensland in (hopefully) sunny Brisbane. With concurrent sessions it’s easy to miss something, so we’ve put together a rundown of the AUSCCER schedule (follow the links for abstracts).

You can follow our AUSCCERites conference trip on Twitter via their personal handles, @AUSCCER or with the hashtag #IAG2017

 

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Salt Blood

I have written about freedive research on this blog here, here and here, but only just now managed to publish about it. Freediving is at its most basic just holding your breath and diving underwater. It is likely as old as humans. But in its modern recreational and competitive formation, it has been described as the second most dangerous extreme sport. It is undergoing a dramatic rise in popularity, with PADI, the largest global dive organisation describing it as the fastest growing segment of the dive market. I have been using ‘full-immersion’ methodologies (becoming as close as possible that which I am researching) to try to understand why.

My essay on freediving, ‘Salt Blood’ has just won the 2017 ABR Calibre Prize.

I wrote:

Mirroring our time in the tiny sea of the amniotic sac, freediving is the most profound engagement between humans and oceans: the unmediated body immersed and uncontrolled in saltwater. It is simultaneously planetary and intensely intimate – the ocean is both all around us and within us. That breadth of scale can be terrifying or reassuring. It is not about discovery, it is about recovery: we can freedive expertly from the minute we are born, but slowly forget. Continue reading

The Truth About Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Noel Castree and Karen Renkema-Lang

In recent months there’s been much talk about our so-called ‘post-truth era’. Wilful ignorance of the truth and the promotion of patently false claims have, rightly, become a cause of concern among many political analysts, media watchers and others. However, let’s not forget that another, much older problem confronts anyone seeking to understand the world in which we live: namely, the selective reporting and use of evidence. This is the ‘salad bar’ approach to truth. The evidence reported may be valid, but it only paints a partial – and sometimes, absent other evidence – a misleading picture of the realities it supposedly sheds light on.

A case in point is Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and related sequestration levels. Australia’s contribution to the problem of anthropogenic climate change continues to command considerable media attention, and – if the problem were to be taken seriously – has very large and immediate implications for government policy, business behaviour and people’s consumption practices. Yet the precise nature of this contribution remains unclear to many people because of two things. First, there is a plethora of official statistics about emissions and sequestration levels. They are reported by various national, sub-national and international bodies. Second, this richness of credible data provides anyone wanting to talk about the climate change issue in Australia – indeed, in most countries – a chance to confuse (knowingly or innocently) those with whom they wish to communicate. Continue reading

A wave of change – ‘A Plastic Ocean’ Film Screening event wrap up

Sophie-May Kerr and Carrie Wilkinson reflect on the UOW Human Geography Society’s  A Plastic Ocean’ Film Screening event and the possibilities for real change through individual and collective action.   

Last week we hosted over 150 people at our sold out A Plastic Ocean film screening event. In addition to the film, we also had stalls hosted by representatives of local organisations committed to educating on the impacts of and reducing marine plastic pollution. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see so many people come together to be part of the wave of change that we so desperately need to combat the devastating global effects of plastic pollution.

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Mushroom Geographies: Wild Food with Diego Bonetto

This is a Polish story, told on Dharawal lands by an Italian man in the Southern Highlands, Australia.

Michael Adams, Dan Musil and I arrived at Penrose State Forest to learn how to forage for wild mushrooms.  We were here to learn from Diego Bonetto, an environmental artist, educator, activist and first generation migrant. I pulled up in the carpark was immediately struck by the demographic diversity of the workshop participants: students from Bangladesh, second generation Eastern European migrants, Anglo farmers, foodies, inner city hipsters, PhD students, academics and children gathered for a different kind of Easter Hunt.

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Turn back the tide – ‘A Plastic Ocean’ Film Screening Event with UOW Human Geography Society

Post by Carrie Wilkinson

Plastic in ocean © Rich Carey/Shutterstock

Each year more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced, half of which is designed for single use. A plastic bag, for example, has a “life” of around 15 minutes but once disposed of can take 400 years to biodegrade. 8 million tonnes of single-use plastic ends up in our oceans every year. By 2050 it is predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

The Plastic Oceans Foundation is working to change the way we deal with plastic waste by challenging our perception that this substance can be treated as ‘disposable’. At the core of this global awareness campaign is the release of a documentary feature film, ‘A Plastic Ocean’.

The University of Wollongong Human Geography Society invites you to their screening event of ‘A Plastic Ocean’. 

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AUSCCER @ the AAG 2017 Boston

 

Association of American Geographers’ Annual Meeting

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

5th – 9th April 2017

 

Next week from the 5th – 9th April eight AUSCCER staff and postgrads will be attending the Association of American Geographers’ (AAG) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

From papers and discussions on parenting, sharks, natural disasters, to urban development, we sure are a diverse group! We’ve trawled through the extensive program so you don’t have too. Catch them speaking at the sessions and times listed below.

If you’re not attending the AAG, you can follow the conversation via twitter using #AAG2017, following @AUSCCER or checking out each AUSCCERites’ twitter handles.

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Risk Assessment

Pondi Unleashed Bulleteers, south India

I have nervously watched the institutionalised mayhem of Indian traffic for years, ‘safely’ as a passenger: India has the highest number of annual traffic incidents in the world. This year I actively took part – in Pondicherry I rented a Royal Enfield ‘Bullet’. Old style, heavy, single-cylinder 350cc: lovely motorbike design dating from the year I was born.

Joining the traffic in the Bullet taught me many lessons – no helmet is better (improves peripheral vision); check the fuel tank (we pushed it down dusty roads for a kilometre the first day); it’s a delicate balance between assertion and deference in Indian traffic, and almost every Indian out-asserted me. Ananth Gopal was the perfect pillion passenger: balanced, navigating, laughing. Risk is broadened on a motorbike: Ananth, me, the people on the bikes next to me I might bump, pedestrians… It is all about flow: after ten days it was just exhilarating to negotiate insanely crowded intersections and nudge through crowded marketplaces. Continue reading