Author Archives: leesim_lim

Towards a liveable and sustainable city

Environmental problems are among the key issues in the urban areas.  The essential of maintaining the quality of the environment in the city for better living quality was recognised at international level in recent World Cities Summit 2010 held between 28 June and 1 July, when participants from various part of the world simultaneously voted urban greenery as the most important element for a liveable city.  Nonetheless, it is also one of the steps to ensure city environmental sustainability.

As one of the busiest centre in the world, as well as hosting more than 7 million residents with a population density of 2,724/km2, London still maintaining its nature very well.  Apart from the environmental friendly policies, its organised town planning with sufficient areas for neighbourhood nature such as parks and woodlands, serve not just as recreational spots for the locals but also a habitat for the wildlife in the metropolitan.  In addition, local culture such as gardening and bird feedings are indirectly help in conserving the nature of the city as well.  These small gardens are able to attract and conserve some birds and insect species.  Public education and awareness are also the keys in ensuring long term sustainability of the city greenery.  Therefore, the public were usually engaged through media documentations and community activities.  For the young children, school outreach programmes are among the activities launched to achieve the goals.

Back in 1997, W. H. Adams explored the development of nature conservation in the country and the roles of rationalization of nature and ecology in affecting the development.  The discussion focused on the argument by Raymond Murphy’s Rationality and nature about the importance of rationalization derived from social elements in changing the links between social actions and the nature dynamics.  By sharing his detail yet interesting findings on the topic, W.H. Adams definitely provided useful information on the rationalization of nature by human over time in determining the directions of conservation to the policy makers and other conservation organisations in their future green and sustainable community planning, especially in places where human population peaks.

PRNewswire, 1 July 2010, “Water Supply, Air Pollution Most Pressing Issues for Cities, Say Participants at Singapore’s World Cities Summit 2010

W.M. Adams, 1997,Rationalization and conservation: ecology and the management of nature in the United Kingdom”, Transaction of the Institute of British Geographers, 22: 277-291

By Lee-Sim Lim


Floods: the consequences and the management

Despite some advantages, sometimes natural phenomena can be unpredictably damaging to the communities when it happens in big scale.  Over the last month, central Europe was hit by the worst flood of decades, particularly south of Poland.  Latest reports from some media included the Telegraph, Guardian, BBC and Reuters reflected the pressing situations caused by the flood in the affected countries.

Since the flood first inundated central Europe in mid May, at least 20 people were killed across the countries while thousands were being evacuated from home.  The effects on economy were expected to be minimal to Poland by the Financial Times in end of May.  However, natural hazards like flood may also causes loss in dwellings, agricultures and infrastructure which ultimately affects the economy of the affected areas both in short and long terms.

Considering the widespread impacts of flooding, many researchers have conducted research aiming either to investigate the causes of flood or inventions of technologies and management techniques to minimise the flooding consequences.  López-Marrero recently highlights the importance of access to resources and cognitive factors in determining the adaptive capacity to the floods in Puerto Rico.  The case study further suggests integrative approach of both aspects in practical strategies development to increase the adaptive capacity to flood.

Instead of focus at the local level, Chang and Franczyk revised some recent studies on flood across the world in order to identify the causes of flood from various aspects as well as methodological issues in the flood research. The review which finally analyse current challenges in flood research also propose the importance of integrative approach in flood research and management.

As these researchers suggested, I personally agree that we should consider several aspects in developing local flood handling strategies and anticipate integration of data in various scales, systems and disciplines in the research.

Read article by López-Marrero in The Geographical Journal here

Read review by Chang and Franczyk in Geography Compass here

by Lee-Sim Lim

Alfred Russel Wallace, a multi-talent geographer that interested in evolution

By Lee-Sim Lim

When we think of the theory of evolution, immediately, we will recall Charles Darwin.  Then, may be some of us will think of Alfred Wallace, a man who play an equally important role in discovering the theory of evolution about 150 years ago.  Unlike Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace’s theory of evolution focused more on the concept of natural selection rather than adaptation, which may be the reason why he was a less controversial icon than Charles Darwin during their time.

Last year, we were celebrating for the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, his discovery of theory of evolution and the book he written, “On the Origin of Species”.  Meanwhile, it was a good step taken by Charles H. Smith from Western Kentucky University to also write about Alfred Wallace and his contributions and discoveries in various areas of natural science throughout his life, included geography, evolution, anthropology and environmental conservationist.  In the Geography Compass review, Charles Smith also mentioned about Alfred Wallace’s invention of the strategy in handling landownership when he was the president of Land Nationalisation Society.

This year is the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society.  Concordance to this, Alfred Russel Wallace was selected as one of the ten outstanding Royal Society Fellow and was commemorated in a new stamp series by the Royal Mail for the Royal Society anniversary celebration.  Of course, we will never forget about the Wallace Line, a line that separated ecozones of Asia on Sundaland and Wallacea on far east of Southeast Asia.  Apart from evolution, we will also remember Alfred Wallace when we think of Southeast Asia and Orangutans.

IP address shortage to limit internet access Read about Charles Smith’s review published in Geography Compass

IP address shortage to limit internet accessWatch the slideshow produced by Paul Kerley to introduce the stamp series for 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, which Alfred Wallace was one of the first class scientist commemorated in the series.

IP address shortage to limit internet access

Location of the Wallace Line in Southeast Asia

Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico: A disaster for the local society and ecosystems?

By Lee-Sim Lim

When Iceland and European countries  are facing the uncertainties from the eruption of Eyjafjallajöekull, the US is desperately finding solutions to the unexpected oil spill.  The incident happened at the night of 20 April 2010 at Gulf of Mexico, due to the blast of one of the BP’s oil rig, which further caused the rig to sunk and lead to the major oil spill.

Since the day the rig submerged, the spill already covered 12km2 and increased to 1500 km2 in a week time. Terry Macalister from the Guardian reported (6 May 2010), that the incident is estimated BP to face at least £15 billion loss. It is indeed a disaster to the company.  However, the local societies and ecosystems are actually far more likely to be the long-term victims.  It is believed to affect local wildlife and the coastal ecosystems as well as affect local economy which involves tourism.

During this period, the advancement of Geographic Information Science and Systems such as Geoweb enables organisations like NASA as well as the public to monitor and predict the oil spill since 22 April.  Geography Compass recently published Dr Paul M. Torrens’ review on the development of one of the computational simulation model class, agent-based models (ABMs) in spatial sciences, which involve its application in improving Geoweb and other behavioural geography technologies.

Based on the federal Mineral Service, there were more than 800 rig related accidents in Gulf of Mexico within the last decade, indicating the area which rich in both the natural resources and some of the US most important ecosystems may turn into disaster without handing their environmental problems carefully.

View the Read about how the incident affected the local communities so far at BBC News

Dr Paul M. Torrens’ review on ABMs and Spatial Sciences

View the Read about how the incident affected the local   communities so far at BBC News Tracking the oil spill since 22 April 2010 with CNN

View the Read about how the incident affected the local     communities so far at BBC News Unforeseen impacts of oil slick on the local society, wildlife and ecosystems of Gulf of Mexico

View the Read about how the incident affected the local       communities so far at BBC NewsComparing Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill with the past

View the Read about how the incident affected the local        communities so far at BBC News Read more on how BBC readers concerns when they wait for the news

Graphic source: NASA, 1 May 2010 (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/oil-creep.html)