Author Archives: Katelyn VanHoutan

South East Asia Blog
“In Mongolia, using new science to preserve traditional lifestyles'
Henry Wilkins
This article talks about the decline in health of Mongolia’s steppe and grasslands, due to
overgrazing and other climate concerns. In Mongolia, the steppe is inhabited by nomadic
herders, raising livestock like goats and yak. Goats are especially damaging to the grasslands
as they eat the roots of the grass as well. Science and determination are starting to show
promise though as different groups around the world work on solving this issue. Wilkins talks
about the rise in urbanization of these nomadic herders, due to the lack of sustainability within
the grasslands currently, with masses of Mongolians moving to Ulaanbaatar and living around
the outskirts in their “gers'. These “ger districts' lack sanitary conditions, room in schools, and
basic utilities. This rise in urbanization is not only an issue for these new city residents, but for
the Mongolian government, as coal pollution rises, and the ger districts conditions get worse.
There is hope though as Wilkins writres, “With some help from schemes supported by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), The Swiss Development Agency and the Global
Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, groups of herders are attempting to show how proper
management of the grassland can stop the degradation.' He also highlights other things like a
businessman who only buys yak for cashmere since they are less harmful to the grasslands
than goats. Proper grazing and livestock management could help the steppe recover in around
ten years as one group predicts, but the scene is still unfolding as more are still moving to the
city, and nomadic herders gain the same modern technology we all have.

South Asia Blog
“Coronavirus in India: Migrants running away from quarantine'
Geeta Pandey BBC News, Delhi
This BBC article written by Greeta Pandey pulled my eye in because I was not aware of how India was trying to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and how they were actually trying to wrangle it in. As Pandey explains, after India’s Government implemented a lockdown due to COVID-19 in efforts to slow the spread, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers fled major cities like Delhi to rejoin their families and return home to the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In response these State governments implement mandatory quarantine mandates and set up quarantine facilities in local government buildings such as council buildings and schools, for screening, holding and treating these returning migrant workers. Public concern continues to grow in both of these provinces as these efforts seem to be fighting a losing battle. Migrants are escaping quarantine facilities, ignoring quarantine orders all together, and continuing to visit and travel around public areas. This has raised concerns within the local communities due to the high population density already present within these states. Returning migrant workers are leaving these quarantine facilities due to the conditions and lack of basic necessities, with reports of some not having electricity, water or bathrooms. 16 people broke a window to get out of one facility in Uttar Pradesh including men, women, and children, later claiming on a video that they were not given food. Many of these travelers who have escaped complain of poor conditions and facilities, and overcrowding. Given the current situations it seems like the government has an uphill battle. Reading about the numbers of migrant workers, coming into these states, as well as their total numbers in the major cities, makes me think of how hard it would be to tackle trying to track and handle COVID-19 cases. Especially with the movement of all these people and issues surrounding facilities, and people wanting or needing to find work, after being jobless in a city, traveling back to an area with even less opportunity.

Article Title: “Gran Chaco: South America’s second-largest forest at risk of collapsing'
Author: Rodolfo Chisleanschi
Translator: Sarah Engel

In the, “Gran Chaco: South America’s second-largest forest is at risk of collapsing'
author Rodolfo Chisleanschi, explains some of the indicators for coming dramatic
changes in the ecosystem, the causes of such changes, and the historic and current
challenges the Gran Chaco Forest faces. The Gran Chaco forest has forest areas in
Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. While he sights logging as a historical cause of
deforestation and subsequent change in ecosystem, he also notes how the rise in
agriculture, specifically soybean farming, has significantly increased harmful activities
in the Gran Chaco, as forests get cleared to make room for farming in the humid areas
and ranching gets pushed to the semi-arid areas. Chisleanschi, points out that a forest
area more than twice the size of Buenos Aires was lost due to deforestation in June of
2018 alone. Chisleanschi also noted a recognizable trend in weather climate patterns,
noting that the swing between flood and drought has been shorter. This rapid
deforestation for commercial agriculture and timber is even affecting the human aspect of this area as locals are finding that resources and areas they depended on are gone. The Gran Chaco Forest, often being overshadowed by its neighbor the Amazon is
starting to disintegrate. Indicators in wildlife and the carrying capacity of the forest
show a decline in natural productivity with lower wildlife populations and less
productive soil. With this forest spanning four countries, containing a unique wildlife
population, a unique growing human population, and expanding destructive industries,
it should definitely be kept in mind, like the Amazon Rainforest, as losing large unique
and wild areas like these can start a domino effect. Such a large losses has even larger

Russia opens Siberian pipeline to China as Beijing expands its influence in the Arctic

Russia unveiled a new plan for a pipeline to expand its influences and energy market in the Arctic. The pipeline would go from Russia’s Siberian fields to Northeast China. The pipeline aligned with China's “Polar Silk Road '' plans.   China's “Polar Silk Road' plan aims to use the abundant resources found in the Arctic region. Some of the key geographical features in this current event are the access and control of the Arctic regions, Russia’s political control through their own Arctic regions and sea areas, and particularly the resource rich Siberian area of Russia. The Arctic is relatively accessible to those near it and this sparks political debate over the control of such regions or the path and partnerships countries should make when   developing in the Arctic.    


Hello, class! My name is Katelyn VanHoutan. I’m currently working full time as a nanny and in school full time working towards my degree in Education. I’m originally from Bettendorf, Iowa so I love to spend as much time as I can outside enjoying the beauty that is Alaska. I live in Fairbanks in   a dry cabin with my boyfriend and the best dogo, Paxt. I have not studied Geography since I was in high school. Although this course is a requirement for my degree, I look forward to gaining knowledge on Geography and the multiple ways it has played important roles in the evolution of people, their ideas, places, and environments. On the map assignment I placed pin marks on Bettendorf, Iowa as my birthplace, Fairbanks as my current place of residence, and Greece as the place I most want to visit. I look forward to working with you all this semester!