Looking at what the world eats using world maps

I had hoped to share maps exploring fun topics related to what people eat around the world, but that was tougher than I had expected. It turns out there’s not much serious research around important questions like favourite desserts around the word, favourite snacks, or chocolate consumption. That data seems to have been gathered by the fast food companies and marketers, and it didn’t seem too consistent or meaningful. I didn’t really want a map of how many McDonald’s there are in each country or one showing Mars Bars as the favourite chocolate bar almost everywhere – sorry, don’t believe that! So we’re going to take a more serious look at food consumption around the world than I had initially intended. I’ll try for some lighter map offerings next week, while I’m eating some of my favourite snacks and chocolate!

How secure is your food supply?


Food security is a measure of how secure adequate sources of food are in a given region. Similar to last week’s look at supply and demand for fresh water, some countries produce more of one or more foods than they need, so they can export the excess – while other countries produce less food than they need and so have to rely on being able to import from other countries.




What do people like to drink? Continue reading

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Technology – a gift for providing community in troubled times

The Internet was first developed by scientists for scientists, to allow scientists around the world to share data and enhance their ability to add to the body of scientific knowledge. A noble concept!

With the now ubiquitous use of the Internet – for almost everything we do, and also for many nefarious and illegal schemes – there have been an increasing number of people troubled about our reliance on the Internet for everything; perhaps it is no longer the instrument for good it might have been. These concerns have some justification, as we see face-to-face interaction lose out to online communication and the reporting of facts lose out to the search for preferred “alternative” facts, not to mention hacking, spam, etc.

However, looking at the Internet through the lens of a pandemic puts it right back into the land of the good. People are working from home through the Internet, they are continuing with their studies through the Internet, they are staying in touch with friends and family nearby as well as further away through the Internet. And more and more people are coming up with creative ways to continue with the group interactions they miss because of social distancing. In other words, technology is helping us be able to create and maintain community bonds during this time of self-isolation and social distancing.

There are virtual choirs. Virtual concerts. Virtual book clubs. Virtual exercise classes. Virtual lifelong-friends-getting-together-for-beer hours. Virtual neighbour wine-tasting evenings. You name it. This week I had experience with three such experiments in virtual communal gatherings through the Internet. Each of them had technical difficulties, but, after all, this is a learning experience. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

A virtual weekly philosophy group.

I belong to a philosophy group that meets every Tuesday afternoon for a few hours. Six to eight of us retirees take turns hosting; we drink our coffee and eat our goodies while discussing the readings we had set for ourselves the week before. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this is not a gathering many people I know would enjoy – certainly not any of our spouses – but we all love that time together. (Yes, sometimes none of us have understood what we’ve read, and, no, we don’t always agree; that’s half the fun!) We cancelled our meeting a week ago, on March 17, because of the new concern of social distancing and then missed our time together so much that we decided to try a group video conference meeting for this past Tuesday. Continue reading

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Climatologists Grimly Watch As People Who Ignore Science Suffer Real And Immediate Consequences — The Out And Abouter

I’m reblogging this satirical piece from Paul Duncan’s The Out And Abouter.  It’s satire, but it’s awfully close to the mark. It’s a great read.  Warning: those of you who didn’t spend your career in an engineering building as I did might find the language a bit strong (but entirely appropriate in the circumstances).

“It’s almost as if advanced computer modelling has the ability to warn us of imminent threats,” says Dr. Foch-Ensseireos, a climatologist who – like many of his colleagues – has spent his entire adult life creating advanced climate change models that warn of an imminent threat, and which have so far been largely ignored by most of the world’s leaders.

“Almost,” he repeats grimly, as around-the-clock coverage of a pandemic of unprecedented, but not unforeseen, proportions plays on a screen in the corner of his office.

As the world grapples with whether to follow the science on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, or just make shit up as we go along until millions of people who didn’t need to die right now go ahead and lay down their lives because we were too stupid, too lazy, or too fucking craven to act like a functioning fucking species and protect the fucking herd, climatologists say they aren’t surprised that so far we are seeing a great deal more of the latter response.

“If anyone knows what it’s like to provide clear direction on a massive approaching crisis, only to be told this isn’t a good time right now as everyone is in the middle of making large amounts of illusory money, it’s us,” says a team of climatologists from Britain’s Oxford University, speaking via video conference as they self-isolate in the middle of the UK’s hesitant response to the coronavirus. […]

Read the remainder of the piece at: Climatologists Grimly Watch As People Who Ignore Science Suffer Real And Immediate Consequences — The Out And Abouter

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Wildlife Wednesday … and almost wordless as well

There were 3 very rare white giraffes in Kenya until early March. 

Along came the poachers, and then there was one.

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Snapshots of our complex world using maps

Here it is, Map Monday, and I thought for this week I’d steer clear of the pandemic sweeping our lives and our world. The multifaceted crisis this pandemic has unleased is challenging our healthcare systems, our economies, our education systems, and the social interactions that bind us together. But, when these trials are eventually resolved, we will still have all our previously existing characteristics, quirks, and challenges. Let’s look at a few of them today … through maps.

Population distribution. We’ve looked at a few different approaches to illustrating the astounding variation in population density through maps in past posts; here are two others, just for fun. Don’t worry, nobody is considering jamming us all together, at least not at this point in time. And definitely not in the immediate aftermath of lessons learned from pandemic spread.

Lactose intolerance. Aside from the increasing pressure on people to drink less milk because of the methane dairy cows contribute to climate change, most of us have always known some people who simply can’t digest milk or milk products very well. They are lactose intolerant. In fact, most frequently that is a trait inherited through your ancestry. Those people whose ancestors through the millennia were cattle, goat, or reindeer herders, and for whom milk was a prime contributor to their diet, evolved to be lactose tolerant. Nearly everyone whose ancestors got their protein – and calcium I assume – from other sources did not need to evolve to be lactose tolerant. Hence, the distribution of lactose intolerance is very widespread. Milk lovers like me are in the minority worldwide. Continue reading

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Celebrating World Happiness Day in the time of COVID-19

Today, March 20, is World Happiness Day. March 20 has been recognized as International Day of Happiness since first being introduced in 2006, and was endorsed by the United Nations in 2012 when they adopted Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness as an international measure. What a wonderful concept, trying to spread happiness around the world. How did I not know that?!

I’ve been planning on writing a blog post to promote and celebrate the concept of World Happiness Day ever since reading about it about a month ago. But it’s not such an easy topic at the moment. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since I first thought I’d write about it. And now here we are, kind of in a state of suspended animation. Most of us either find ourselves in self-isolation, which is the smart thing to be doing, or we are sick, which obviously is far worse. Given the reality of COVID-19 and the lockdown of millions of people right around the globe, we might well wonder if maybe World Happiness Day should be postponed for an undefined period of time, just like nearly everything else in our lives. But in fact now is the perfect time for World Happiness Day.

World Happiness Day encourages us to pause and think about what makes us happy personally and what we can do to bring happiness into our lives and the lives of others. And we certainly find ourselves with time to pause. That may be one of the few silver linings to come out of this world crisis. Those of us who are self-isolated but healthy should take advantage of having been forced to slow down a little. Forced to step off the treadmill of life, which we so often complain about.

What makes most people happy? Well, as I’ve discussed in previous posts about kindness, one of the big things that makes us happy is being kind to others. Research confirms that kindness makes you happy, and being happy actually makes you kinder in return.

What actions are coming out of the COVID-19 world crisis that contribute to our happiness, as strange as that may seem? Continue reading

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Wisdom from Facebook friends in the midst of world COVID-19 lockdown

I don’t know about you, but with even more time for people to be on Facebook, I find that FB friends are passing along helpful and thoughtful “posters” to help deal with self-isolation, to understand why it’s so critically important, as well as announcing new closures. You may have seen some or all of these, but I thought they were worth passing along. They’ve helped me.


Continue reading

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