July 29, 2021
AAG SmartBrief
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Geography in Action
Verifying weather events is not a quick process
Death Valley (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Record-setting weather events can take years to study and verify. Randall Cerveny, who leads verification efforts for the World Meteorological Organization, notes that an Aug. 6, 2020, reading from Death Valley is still under review. Manola Brunet, president of the WMO's Commission for Climatology, says that WMO committees typically have eight to 12 experts.
Full Story: The New York Times (7/22) 
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Portions of the interstate highway system were built to run through historically Black communities, destroying businesses and homes and continuing to shape urban landscapes to this day. This article offers a look at seven affected areas -- including Miami and St. Paul, Minn. -- and describes efforts at the federal and local level to address past injustices and reconnect these communities.
Full Story: Bloomberg CityLab (free registration) (7/28) 
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Improving Teacher Wellness and Self-Care
As teachers prepare to head back to the classroom, many are looking for ways to manage and protect their mental and emotional health, especially after what has been an incredibly taxing past year. Join SmartBrief on August 26th as mental health experts offer practical tips and ideas to help teachers and school leaders. Register Now
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Research, Education and Global Change
Fossilized sponge remains that date back about 890 million years suggest that animals may have originated about 350 million years sooner than once believed, a study in Nature suggests. Researchers discovered the fiber network made by the sponges inside the remains of a stromatolite in Canada.
Full Story: New Scientist (free content) (7/28) 
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The rise of the more contagious Delta variant, a lack of access to vaccines and easing of pandemic restrictions mean COVID-19 is having a more significant impact on developing countries and conflict regions this year than in 2020, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ramesh Rajasingham says as the UN calls on the international community to share vaccines, oxygen and other supplies with poor countries. UNICEF is praising vaccination efforts in Bhutan, where health officials say 90% of the adult population received the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the past week, noting the achievement highlights the importance of countries donating their surplus vaccine doses.
Full Story: The Associated Press (7/26),  CNN (7/28) 
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Previously unknown viruses have been found in ice from a glacier in Tibet that dates back 15,000 years and are described in Microbiome. Researchers say they've found the genetic signatures of 33 viruses, 29 that have never been seen before, with the ability to survive in harsh environments and some may be beneficial, helping bacteria weather extreme conditions.
Full Story: IFLScience (UK) (7/22) 
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Technology and Applications
A newly developed computer model is now ready to be used to locate unknown shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Leila Character, a geography doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, teamed up with a branch of the US Navy to create the model, which is 92% accurate in identifying known shipwrecks.
Full Story: The Conversation (7/22) 
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Association News
How Networks of Human Movement and Social Ties Influence Regional Responses to COVID-19
Clio Andris, a GeoSpatial Software Institute Fellow and Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech, will share findings from her fellowship on August 9 during a free webinar exploring how a better understanding of social networks and geographical systems can help determine the best policy-making units for a disease outbreak such as COVID-19. Andris and her co-researchers find that regions whose boundaries are constructed from GPS-trace ("trip") networks -- and particularly commuter networks -- may be more effective areas than states for making policy decisions on opening for activity, implementing mask-wearing policies, and allocating resources in an epidemic. Andris, who is the director of the Friendly Cities Lab, has co-authored this work with Caglar Koylu, Assistant Professor, Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, University of Iowa, and Mason A. Porter, Professor, Department of Mathematics, UCLA. Follow this link to register.
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New AAG Statement on Professional Ethics
The AAG Council has unanimously approved a revised Statement on Professional Ethics, organized around seven key ethical principles of scholarship and practice, beginning with Do No Harm, and continuing with principles that affirm a holistic, more-than-human approach to showing respect for the places that geographers engage with, and the relationships they establish and maintain. The new Statement also clarifies and adds detail to the parameters for professional conduct, in keeping with the AAG's revised 2020 Code of Conduct. Lastly, the Statement identifies appropriate practice for disclosure of funding sources and partnerships, as well as guidance on weighing competing ethical obligations. Read the statement here.
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If the ends don't justify the means, then what does?
Bob Moses,
civil rights activist, educator
1935-2021
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