Just Where is U2’s Joshua Tree?

This month, there’s been construction going on in the lot behind Basement Geographer HQ. In and amidst the sounds of hammers, saws, drills, and heavy machinery have been the sounds of the classic rock radio station the construction workers have been playing over their radios. As I headed out for a walk to the store…

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Surtsey: Evolution of an Island

For the past half-century, the Icelandic island of Surtsey has been the ultimate laboratory.  Not only were scientists able to watch the live birth of a volcanic island as it emerged newborn from the ocean floor in late 1963, but they have been able to observe the development of the island as plant and animal…

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The 2 384-Acre Mushroom

Imagine a living, functioning organism four-and-a-half times the size of Monaco – one so large that you wouldn’t even know you were standing on top of it unless someone told you.  Beneath a mountain forest in the western United States lies such an organism; one that may just be the largest living thing discovered by…

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Wallacea – The Bridge Between Asia and Australia

Our inherent need to categorise and compartmentalise often leads to some major geographic conundrums, especially when we can’t agree on the final organisation. Take this article from earlier this year on the number of continents, for example. A continent is the most basic unit of land, and yet we can’t even agree what constitutes a continent, let…

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Tree Islands of the Everglades

Source: vladeb, http://www.flickr.com/photos/28122162@N04/3759277421/. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic licence. This week, news feeds were abuzz with the release of findings from a McGill University-led study from the Global Environment and Climate Change Centre (GE3C) which postulated that the tropical hardwood hammocks or ‘tree islands’, the dry, metre-high mounds that rise out of the…

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Qat: The Stimulant of Choice in the Horn of Africa and Yemen

For as long as there have been people, there have been plants and herbs used by people to achieve a stimulatory or hallucinogenic effect. The plant of choice varies by region (marijuana in North America and coca in South America, for example). This article looks at the plant known as qat (kat, khat, miraa, gat). In our house,…

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Dracaena cinnabari: The Socotra Dragon Tree

Source: Boris Khvostichenko, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Socotra_dragon_tree.JPG. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic licence. Of all the species of trees in the world, perhaps the most visually jarring is Dracaena cinnabari, the dragon tree of Socotra. Isolated from the rest of world (Socotra and its surrounding islands lie east of the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean and…

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