National Geographic Magazine: a treasure trove of relevant information every month

September 26, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

I just finished reading the October 2007 issue of National Geographic.  I’ve been subscribing to the National Geographic for more than ten years. As I read the October issue, it struck me what an incredibly informative magazine it is.  Truly, in a single issue of that one magazine there must have been 50 photo spreads or articles that were each highly worthy of careful consideration.

Photos by Lana Slezic were featured in the Photo Journal section.  She captured magical and sometimes sad images of Afghan women, including a haunting photo of a group of Afghan women, covered from head to toe, looking at modern dresses displayd in a store window (I couldn’t find that photo online at NG, but it is available at Slezic’s own site). Her photos were each presented in context.  For instance, two schoolgirls are photographed.  Under that photo is a caption advising that one million Afghan girls who should be in school are not going to school.  Further, the female illiteracy rate in Afghanistan is more than 80%.

On page 14, you can see a two-page spread of the blue walls of Jodhpur, India where langurs are perched on many rooftops.  The langurs are free to roam because they’re considered to be avatars of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman.

There is a short article about the efforts to preserve the ancient manuscripts found in Timbuktu.  Yes, there really is a place called Timbuktu.  It is a city in Mali, Africa.  As a matter of fact, my sister-in-law, a Norwegian woman working in coordination with the United Nations, spends considerable time in Timbuktu each year helping to scan and preserve these literary treasures.

There is also a short article about the world’s loss of languages, indicating that every two weeks another language dies “taking millennia of human knowledge and history with it.”

Or would you like to read about the anatomy of a woodpecker.  How is it that these birds can bang their heads against trees without suffering injuries?  Those questions are answered in a well-illustrated easily comprehend way.

Do you have a dog?  If you do, there are numerous foods that could be harmful to your dog.  These include alcohol, coffee, chocolate, garlic, onions, macadamia nuts and grapes.

What will climate change to to the world wine map?  Climate change is could change that map dramatically, based upon color overlays over a map of France.  Here’s another example: in the 21st century, no significant wine grape crop will be found in a “scorching Napa Valley.”  Instead, you’ll need to head north to Puget Sound and British Columbia, or east to Ontario.

If you want to see a spectacular photo, you can find it on a page called “Expeditions.”  There, you will see a picture of “smooth, luminous crystals, some 36 feet long” in a Mexican cave line 950 feet below the surface.  These are not Quartz crystals, but gypsum, and they have taken the form of “massive moon white beams.”

What else would like to know, honey?  How much this?  There are up to 60,000 bees in a beehive.  In order to produce 1 pound of clover honey, it takes 7000 bee hours.  You will also be updated on the incredibly disturbing phenomenon called “colony collapsed disorder.”  It’s disturbing because it huge proportion of our food crop (33%) depends upon the work of bees to do the pollination.

Are you tired of seeing global warming kicked around like a political football?  Check out “Confronting Carbon,” an extensive essay that explores what really needs to be done about global warming (beginning of page 33).  This article is a no bullshit plan of action that tells us what we need to do in order to avoid catastrophic changes to our planet and a horrifically decreased standard of living. Take this for starters: we need to improve automobile fuel economy from an average of 30 miles per gallon to 60 miles per gallon by 2057.  We also need to reduce the miles traveled annually in each of the world’s 2 billion cars from an average of 10,000 to 5000 miles.  And that’s only the beginning of what we need to do. This information bears no resemblence to what you see and hear from local news sources and even many national news sources.

If you want to know how to to grow fuel and to see why corn-based fuel is not a reasonable approach to reducing our dependence on gasoline, you can check out “Green Dreams,” starting on page 38.  You’ll see a claim by Cornell University’s David Pimentel, who states “Biofuels are a total waste and misleading us from getting at what we really need to do: conservation.”  On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for biofuels.  For instance, you’ll learn about the immense progress occurring in Brazil, where they are successfully turning sugarcane into alcohol-fuel, which powers a significant proportion of the Brazilian automobile fleet.  You’ll also learn of a facility outside of Phoenix where researchers are producing fuel from hanging bags of algae.  These researchers claim that, someday, they could soak up carbon dioxide “while cranking out 5000 gallons of bile diesel an acre each year.”

This little tour takes us only about halfway through the October edition of National Geographic. 

If every person in America read National Geographic, we wouldn’t have neocons. People who read these articles and view these photos from around the globe know that the United States is not the only country in the world. They know that our lifestyle is not the only lifestyle. They also learn to appreciate the common issues facing the peoples of the world.  They see other cultures in depth, not as a cartoon to scoff at laugh at.  I do think that parochialism and self-centeredness are the heart and soul of the neocon and that in-depth information of things beyond one’s self and one’s community is the best remedy.  Not only are the National Geographic’s article far-ranging.  They are also up-to-date with relevant and thoughtfully presented scientific issues, unvarnished by partisan politics. 

Here’s the kicker: you can subscribe to the National Geographic for only $15 for 12 issues (that’s an entire year’s worth).  The question for you is this: wouldn’t it be worth $1.25 per month to support such an incredible organization as National Geographic, including substantial amounts of cutting edge research and to have this high-quality reading material mailed to your home each month?

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Category: Reading - Books and Magazines, Science, Technology

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I used to read the Geographic. It is an excellent source of cultural and scientific knowledge presented in impeccable form. But I noticed that a majority of the articles covered ground that I'd read about up to a year earlier in Scientific American (in more detail), or about 3 months earlier in Smithsonian (with comparable presentation).

    With only so many hours available to read, I stopped subscribing to National Geographic. Anything important that I may have missed would show up on TV in another month or so, anyway.

  2. FH says:

    Haven't seen the National Geographic for few years. Is the ratio of men to women in the world still 10 to 1? Have the women acquired any more practical clothing?

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