Vol. 48, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2010- "The Pennsylvania Geographer"



CONFLICT IN THE CAUCASUS: THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE 2008 WAR IN GEORGIA


Nathan Peeters

Department of Political Science

Wittenberg University


Abstract


The 2008 military conflict in the Republic of Georgia was of historic significance, as it saw the first external use of military force by the Russian Federation since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Much of the concern about the Russian invasion of Georgia continues to revolve around Russia’s motivations and what these imply for the political future of not only Georgia and the Caucasus but the entire former Soviet Union as well. This study analyzes three general outlooks concerning these motivations: that of a “revanchist” Russia seeking to reincorporate its lost territories; that of a “belligerent” Russia intent upon punishing Georgia for its Western orientation; and that of a “defensist” Russia that merely responded to a Georgian attack that threatened its national security. Through such an analysis, one can develop a greater understanding of Russia’s true intentions in Georgia and how they have contributed to the current geopolitical situation throughout the Caucasus.





INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE: TIME TRAVEL MADE EASY


Nancy Morris

Donald P. Albert

James W. Tiller

Department of Geography and Geology

Sam Houston State University


Abstract


This article presents an array of International Date Line (IDL) scenarios appropriate for high school and college students. These illustrations can be used to “spice up” the more traditional and technical lesson on the IDL, presented herein under “Nuts and Bolts,” by grabbing students’ attention with interesting examples of this fantastic geographic phenomenon. Teaching students about the International Date Line develops their ability to view the world in spatial temporal terms, and in doing so, supports National Geography Standard 1: “How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.”





ROMANIAN AGRICULTURE IN THE POST-COMMUNIST ERA


Alina Cocos

The Hyperion College, Bucharest

Octavian Cocos

Faculty of Geography

University of Bucharest


Abstract


During the post-communist era, Romanian agriculture has suffered a significant decline. The collective ownership of land has been abolished and the peasants have been given back the land confiscated long ago by the communist regime. The result has not been positive, however, because the breaking down of the lands has had negative effects on the agricultural capacity to meet internal

consumption needs. Thus, Romania has become an importer of agricultural products, although prior to the Revolution of December 1989 it was one of the most important exporters in Europe. Despite a high agricultural potential and a considerable specialized labor force, because of a chronic lack of capital Romania does not seem capable for the time being of resolving the serious problems of this sector. However, agreements concluded with various international financial bodies may create the pre-requisites for a middle term recovery of Romanian agriculture. 





THE CATOCTIN VALLEY OF MARYLAND: A REGION IN TRANSITION


Sherman E. Silverman

Department of History, Political Science and Geography

Prince George’s Community College


Abstract


Topical geography employs a multiplicity of methods in the depiction of both natural and cultural landscapes. One technique is to investigate the transformation of human attributes of a landscape as it evolves over a prolong period of time. A geographic synthesis emerges when attributes of economics, sociology and political ideology are united to illuminate cultural persistence, as well as transformation, as amplified by what can be observable in the landscape. Maryland’s Catoctin Valley can be considered a subregion within Appalachia. In early 18th century it was part of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier as English and German settlers progressed towards the Shenandoah and Ohio Valleys. The valley reflects a spatial transformation brought on by turnpikes and a great canal that was, subsequently, replaced by both steam and electric railroads. Now the suburban frontier of the Washington’s metropolis is intruding consequent to interstate construction, but this intrusion has not compromised historical vestiges of America’s past three hundred years as apparent in the Valley’s present landscape. Agrarianism, industrialization and suburban development, in the Catoctin Valley, reflect well the study of landscape evolution in both spatial and temporal contexts. 





USING TOMBSTONE RECORDS FROM CENTRALIA, PA, TO EVALUATE THE EFFECTS OF MINING ACTIVITIES ON MALE SURVIVORSHIP


Leigh Ann Scholtz and Laura Guertin

Department of Earth Science

Penn State Brandywine


Abstract


Centralia, Pennsylvania, was chosen as the study location because of the coal-mining activities and potential health impacts resulting from coalmine fires. Centralian tombstone records were obtained from published documents, providing the years of birth and death along with gender. Graphical representations of life span and survivorship trends were constructed. The graphs demonstrated an expected pattern for survivorship where male life spans were longer than that of females prior to age sixty. However, there is an anomaly for men who exceeded female survivorship to age forty. This is evidence of coal mining activities having a possible effect on the male survivorship in Centralia.



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