September 2012 NGM Highlights: View as PDF
This month, editor Peter Miller writes about weather gone wild and the certainty that even more is to come; he also takes an in-depth look at the effects of drought in West Texas. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair and writer Joshua Hammer offer an intimate look at life in Yemen and the challenge of dealing with rebels, refugees and al Qaeda. Other articles explore ocean life around seamounts, underwater mountains; Roman walls, far-reaching remnants of the Roman Empire that still dot landscapes today; and the quirky life of Romania’s nouveau riche.
Special Content for iPad Edition Includes:
- What’s Up with the Weather? video – Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, hail storms…is Earth’s climate changing dangerously?
- Top 10 Weather Disasters graphic – See a chart of the most costly U.S. weather disasters starting with 1980; tap on a year to view a detailed list of disasters.
- Coping with Drought video – Life is hard in the dust-choked fields of Texas, where, by September 2011, the state had suffered the driest 12 months in its history. Yet some farmers haven’t given up.
- Explore an Underwater World video – Explore the underwater world of Cortes Bank, off the coast of California near San Diego, with underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry.
- Tour of a Seamount animation and location map – See a video of seamounts and their profound effect on life in the oceans; tap on the map to see where seamounts are located.
- Exploring Mauna Kea interactive graphic – What makes Mauna Kea the world’s tallest mountain is its total elevation, most of it underwater; tap and swipe to see how.
- Yemeni Youth video – See a video of young Yemenis break-dancing and beat boxing.
- Roma Song and Dance – Experience a Roma afternoon with a little girl and her grandfather’s music.
Weather Gone Wild, by Peter Miller (Page 30). “Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately,” writes Peter Miller. With losses in 2011 estimated at $150 billion worldwide, why are extreme weather-related events happening more frequently than ever? Cyclical events like El Niño and La Niña contribute significantly to the extreme weather, and “average surface temperature worldwide has risen nearly one degree Fahrenheit in the past four decades,” increasing water vapor in the atmosphere and contributing to intense rainfalls. Human populations and property are also becoming increasingly concentrated in areas affected by storms. Only by better preparing for extreme weather and reducing greenhouse gas emissions can we hope to succeed in mitigating the damages caused by future storms. Miller is available for interviews.
The New Dust Bowl, by Peter Miller, photographed by Robb Kendrick (Page 56). “If you’re proud of your country, you try to take care of it,” says Bill Tullos, a resident of San Angelo in West Texas. Having lived through the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Tullos knew what to do when 2011 brought Texas the driest 12 months in its history: He slowly auctioned off his livestock to preserve parched and brittle grazing lands. Robb Kendrick’s touching, vivid photographs capture a region and people hobbled by drought but determined to scrape out a living in an unforgiving environment. Miller and Kendrick are available for interviews.
Marine Mountains, by Gregory S. Stone, photographed by Brian Skerry (Page 66). The ocean floor is covered in hundreds of thousands of seamounts, or undersea mountains, yet life has been explored on barely 300. According to ocean scientist Gregory S. Stone, “more finely detailed maps of the surface of Mars may exist than of the remotest parts of the ocean floor.” Stone takes us aboard the submersible DeepSee to explore these massive formations that teem with underwater life. With “new species … discovered on almost every expedition,” much remains to be explored and documented in and around the planet’s countless seamounts. Skerry’s exquisite underwater photography highlights curious harbor seals, kelp forests and a bevy of other curiosities. Stone and Skerry are available for interviews
Yemen’s Day of Reckoning, by Joshua Hammer, photographed by Stephanie Sinclair (Page 80). The Arab Spring that swept through the Middle East has left Yemen “in a deeply precarious condition,” writes Joshua Hammer about his explorations there. In the power vacuum that followed President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resignation, tribal leaders, former generals and Al Qaeda operatives have all struggled to assert their control over the country’s course, while pro-democracy movements — marginalized and threatened by violence — are “now struggling to remain relevant.” Saleh may no longer be president, but for now “Yemen still belongs to the men with guns.” Stephanie Sinclair, winner of the 2012 World Press Photo contest, captures the gamut of life in Yemen, from the beauty of a wedding reception to the tragedy of a boy blinded by a sniper’s bullet. Hammer and Sinclair are available for interviews.
The Empire Strikes Out, by Andrew Curry, photographed by Robert Clark (Page 106). Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile-long fortification that cuts Britain in half, is the most well-known and extensively documented section of the perimeter of the Roman Empire. Yet similar structures were constructed as far away as North Africa, Syria and the Arab peninsula, and archaeologists and historians are working to better understand why these walls and ditches were built. Hadrian’s Wall “may be a red herring,” as most Roman walls would have been useless against an invading army but highly effective for local policing or perhaps collecting customs fees. Though other, more heavily reinforced cities existed, archaeological evidence suggests that their buildup occurred rapidly as a last-ditch effort to protect the empire from the many outside groups that would eventually overwhelm it. Aerial photographs of vast Roman constructions accompany detailed shots of exquisite artifacts from the period. Curry and Clark are available for interviews.
Mansions of the Roma Kings, by Tom O’Neill, photographed by Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky (Page 128). Sherbet-colored mansions with gleaming marble halls. Neckties spun from solid gold thread and emblazoned with the brand of a luxury SUV. These are the trappings of the Roma nouveau riche, the people pejoratively known as Gypsies. After the fall of Romania’s communist regime in 1989, the entrepreneurial instincts of the Roma people and their engagement in the lucrative metal trade meant that some members of the culture could afford to buy new houses — then tear them down and rebuild them. Photographers Karla Gachet and Ivan Kashinsky spent two months working to gain access to these glittering houses of Buzescu, an “otherwise dour farm town,” and their vivid, personal images highlight the Roma culture’s struggle to balance traditional values with newfound wealth and outside influence. O’Neil, Gachet and Kashinsky are available for interviews.
National Geographic magazine has a long tradition of combining on-the-ground reporting with award-winning photography to inform people about life on our planet. It won a National Magazine Award in 2012 for best tablet edition as well as a further 13 National Magazine Awards in the past five years: for Magazine of the Year and Single-Topic Issue in 2011; for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Essays, plus two Digital Media Awards for Best Photography and Best Community, in 2010; for Photojournalism in 2009; for General Excellence, Photojournalism and Reporting in 2008; and for General Excellence and Photography in 2007.
The magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit education and scientific organizations. Published in English and 33 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent out each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership to the Society.