tv Mosaic World News LINKTV September 20, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by annenberg/cpb narrator: some geographers use the terms "core" and "periphery" to describe the spatial relationships between the "have" and the "have-not" areas in a nation or region. others prefer "heartland" and "hinterland." whatever the terms, andalucía is a remote region in spain, which itself is far from the center of europe. in this case study we will examine: the relative location of a european hinterland; the historical geography of a region at the crossroads of civilizations; the economic geography of a region wishing to grow from agriculture to industry; and the development of transportation infrastructure to overcome the disadvantage of distance.
the expo "cartuja '92" commemorated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of america, which began from here in andalucía, spain. celebrating the frontiers of science and technology, promoters hoped the building complex would attract hi-tech firms after the expo ended. ( speaking spanish ) translator: the expo helped us, but now it's over. what we're going through now, is a post-expo recession. ( interviewer speaking spanish ) translator: what do you think of the expo? translator: very nice, but now it's over and right now things have never been worse in andalucía. translator: what are you going to do? translator: the same as i've ever done-- wait. wouldn't it be possible to get work elsewhere? with my parents to look after? where could i go? ( interviewer speaking spanish ) translator: has there been more work at other times?
translator: yes, of course there has been more work, but it wasn't the same; we worked hard and we had almost nothing to eat. now we don't work anymore at all, so its makes me wonder, what are we going to eat? ( people chuckling ) narration: now one of the poorest regions in western europe, rich in bellicose bulls, and idle workers obliged to emigrate to survive, andalucía is known for its tourism, folklore and tradition. but situated 500 years ago at the meeting point of the muslim, jewish d christian worlds, andalucía was a center of western culture. one thing you have to understand about andalucía is that it is this historically quite special place in terms of being the part of western europe that was, for longest, under muslim rule; from 711 through to 1492,
parts of andalucía were under the arab berber kingdoms. at one point it was administered from syria. yeah? from damascus. now, historically, that sense of connection with the world beyond europe, with that arab, berber, islamic world, remains an important residue within andalucía and andalucían sense of identity and sense of difference. narration: then, in the 17th century, it became of the center of trade between europe and the new world. seville, the capital, still boasts the monumental architecture and flamboyance of a period that saw the riches of the americas pass through its gates. and then, the europe of the conquistadors gave way to that of the industrialists, and here spain did not advance.
now the industrial heartland runs from manchester, england, to milan, italy. thus, after the industrial revolution, spain became more marginal in europe, andalucía, more marginal in spain. kattalin gabriel is conducting a geopolitical study of different regions in today's spain. what makes andalucía so distinctive is that after trying for many years, this region finally obtained relative autonomy in the late 1970s. ( man speaking spanish ) translator: yes, the 1978 constitution introduced the possibility of autonomous regions in spain. since that time, we have campaigned so that andalucía itself could also benefit from this type of regional power.
now we can see the results. at the start of autonomy, there were 82 kilometers of toll-paying motorways in this region. now there are 1,500 kilometers, and they are toll-free. the first joint state-region urbanist project happened here. in short, the fact is that politics always manifests itself in a modification of the landscape. narration: this landscape in motril was drastically modified two decades ago. before that, this coastal plain was sand, palm trees and tourist homes. today, thousands of migrants from spain's interior have colonized this ancient desert and make a living beneath a sea of plastic.
( speaking spanish ) translator: could you explain to me the principle of this type of farming? ( man speaking spanish ) translator: well, it's simple: there is 20 to 25 centimeters of sand, which we bring from the beach or from the quarry. then we mix that with manure, and that's all, that's how it works. ( gabriel speaking spanish ) ( man speaking spanish ) rrator: although irrigation and climate control make growing here highly productive, such food factories only strgthe andacía's agricultural economy. produce is loaded on trucks like this bound for the great consuming markets of the european heartland. they travel on improved highways in spain
and link to the larger system in the rest of the region. it's part of spain's evolution, according to sidaway. sidaway: in andalucía and in spain, there's a century-long project of becoming european. that what spain has been seeking to do for... ever since it's lost its colonies, there's been a sense of becoming european, that the solution to spain's problems, spspain's decadence, spain's poverty, spain's sense of backwardness, is to become european. yeah? and that sense, and that vision is still very evident both in spain as a whole and in a marginal region like andalucía. so you see this in the continued drive for fast-transport infrastructure-- the sense of connection. the fast train line that has been built between madrid and seville-- one can travel between them in just a couple of hours-- is symbolic of this will to connect.
narration: constructed in 1992 for the columbus expo, the high-speed madrid-seville train is a symbol of andalucía's desire to link with europe. the larger goal was to become part of the heartland instead of remaining an orchard for the rest of europe. could the sunshine and the quality of life attract hi-tech industry? that was the idea. ( man speaking spanish ) translator: andalucía wants to get rid of this exclusive rural vocation which the world economy has assigned to it. while remaining, of course, a tourist pole for western europe, and keeping certain sectors of food industry which are its own, andalucía wants to get in touch with industry, technology and services. ( speaking spanish )
translator: so our priority is production economy, small- and middle-sized firms, new technologies; for we believe that such is the path to our growth. ( speaking spanish ) translator: in giving an image of a certain modernity, the impact of the expo on the spanish population was favorable. but the efforts made by public institutions concerning the reuse of allhose buildings after the expo, ve beemore dubious. in theory, some of t buildings were to home state-of-the-art research facilities; but this idea was founded more on illusion than on reality, because it's not so easy to reproduce on command the experience of silicon valley, or of other places where technological development
goes hand-in-hand with a good quality of life. quite simply, andalucía has the climate of california and some other points in common with california, but it's not california. narrator: a decade later, says geographer sidaway, the expo results are in. the attraction of new industry hasn't happened. it's too marginal. the industry goes elsewhere in spain, nearer to the european core, the area around barcelona, valencia. substantial industrial investment has not come into andalucía through the 1990s. the dreams of some in the early 1990s, when seville was developed and the expo happened, just haven't really taken off in terms of large-scale inward investment
and industrial development. it's still very much a marginal, peripheral, part of europe. its main industry has remained agriculture, tourism, rather than manufacturing. narrator: manufacturers like gillette were leaving instead of coming. translator: why did the gillette factory leave andalucía? it left for the opposite reasons to those for which it came here. why? down through the years, as a result of their own efforts, the gillette workers obtained, little-by-little, some social advantages. and now, this multinational company prefers to leave andalucía in favor of other countries, such as turkey, poland or russia, where the salaries are very low, and where it can make profits comparable to those it made during its 27-year stay in andalucía. narration: in other words, the expansion of the european union
has created new hinterlands-- some even closer to the european heartland, with even cheaper labor. they are competition for remote regions like andalucía, despite the huge investments in infrastructure like the train. if the high-speed rail from madrid to seville symbolized the hopes for andalucía, the lack of high-speed connections to the rest of europe may symbolize the region's lack of progress. sidaway: for much of the population, the process of integration and the dreams of connection, and europe, haven't amounted to much in material terms, haven't amounted to a significant increase in their standard of living. there's very high unemployment in andalucía, both in the countryside and in the cities. and it's still a region where people feel that they have to migrate from. narrator: although new transportation infrastructure has helped,
it may not be enough to overcome the disadvantage of distance. andalucía's economic geography may not transform from agricultural to industrial, as they had hoped. perhaps a positive future for this european hinterland will emerge from its relative location and its historical geography at the crossroads of civilizations. part of the sub-region geographers call northern europe, the tiny island-nation of iceland is not just far from the region's heartland, but separated by hundreds of miles of ocean. iceland is a country on the edge of europe, both politically and geologically. its physical geography also puts it on the edge of the habitable world. but its location creates great bounty, and the culture of iceland has benefited greatly from its human-environmental interaction.
the question is, will they deplete their greatest resource, fish stocks, or will quotas sustain the harvest? changes in their fishing fleet just reinforce an ongoing population change, rural-to-urban migration. ( seagulls cawing ) ( squawking ) narrator: catching puffins to eat may seem cruel to many people; but on the island of heimaey off the coast of iceland, seabirds have been part of the diet for a thousand years. ( conversing quietly )
although they no longer rely on puffins, the islanders still depend on the finite gifts of a hostile environment to survive. and there is one gift above all others on which this tiny country must rely. fish, primarily cod, are to iceland what oil is to saudi arabia. they make up 70% of iceland's exports, bringing wealth to many and fueling iceland's strong service economy. more than half of the island's 260,000 inhabitants live in reykjavík, the most northerly national capital in the world. iceland is politically, economically and culturally attached to europe. yet they have resisted membership in the european union-- mostly to avoid opening their rich fishing grounds to continental boats.
they are trying to protect one of the highest standards of living in the world, all thanks to the productivity of their fishery. so why is it so good? it's a matter of geography. the gulf stream brings warmer water and air from the south, moderating iceland's climate. in the shallower water surrounding iceland, shown in light blue, the warm water mixes with colder, arctic currents from the north. where they meet, vortices form that pull nutrients up from the bottom. tiny microscopic plankton flourish in the long summer days, fueling a feeding frenzy for fish and providing a foundation for iceland's economy. but the mixing of arctic and tropical water also make these seas treacherous for fishermen. frequent storms constantly threaten the lives of fishermen like oskar thorinsson.
( speaking icelandic ) translator: the seas around iceland are very dangerous. in my little town of 5,000 inhabitants, 500 people have lost their lives to fishing since 1860. this is ten percent of our population, so that's what we're talking about. this is war. ( conversing in icelandic ) narrator: "war and peace" could describe the most important human- environmental interactions in iceland. glaciers cover over 11% of iceland's mainland. melting water from ice caps creates rivers
that are tapped for hydroelectric power. electricity here is so cheap that australia ships aluminum oxide halfway around the world to iceland for smelting. icelanders also harness the enormous power lurking below the earth's surface. war magma-heated hot springcreas geothermal power, which heats 85% of iceland's homes. here, too, the source of this power emanates from iceland's unique location. iceland sits not just on the cultural, but on the geological edge of europe where the eurasian and north american tectonic plates continue to separate. where they part, molten lava erupting from the seabed has created iceland.
nowhere are the mixed blessings of iceland's physical geography more dramatic than on the tiny island of heimaey. here, flowing lava created one of the country's finest natural harbors, providing shelter in the midst of iceland's most productive and most dangerous waters. but in 1973, the forces of creation turned to destruction. that winter, the volcano opened without warning, pouring molten lava down on the people and the harbor. miraculously, a storm the previous day had docked the island's entire fishing fleet allowing most residents to sail away to safety, wondering if their houses, and perhaps more importantly, their harbor, would survive. the eruption roared for months submerging the island in a sea of black ash.
lava flowed into the sea, threatening to choke off the harbor mouth. desperate to save their port, a geologist offered a far-out idea: what if they sprayed cold sea water on the spreading lava? could they freeze some of it and control the direction of flow? fire trucks and boats mounted a last-ditch effort. their harbor was saved. a decade later, heimaey fishermen like oskar thorinsson face a new threat. in fact, all of iceland is endangered by a drop of nearly 70% in the cod population. i think it is quite clear that the cod stock is of such vital importance to iceland and the icelandic nation that without it we cannot expect that there would be any civilized le
in iceland today. narrator: the essential reason for this shortage is manmade: iceland's enormous and technologically advanced fishing fleet has enough power to vacuum clean the ocean floor. to allow cod stocks to replenish, the government imposed strict quotas, setting the total allowable catch at 25% of the estimated cod biomass, or weight of the whole adult population. like fishermen who face dwindling stocks off massachusetts and maine, elmar svenson is angry with his government. ( svenson speaking icelandic ) translator: there is enough bounty to be caught, plenty of fish. and, how shall i put this, they're making the country go bankrupt with these quotas. as a case in point, the boat is docked today.
i cannot afford to pay the mortgage for the house. man: i've often told the fishermen, if they would go back to the boats they had in the 1920s with the same uipment as they had in the 1920s we wouldn't need any quotas. narrator: but since the 1990s, fishermen now begrudgingly agree: the quotas have stabilized cod stocks and maintained iceland's major source of income. in fact, the quotas have turned into very lucrative properties. in 1991, oskar thorinsson and all fishermen who already owned boats were granted a fixed share, or percentage, of the total iceland catch, based on their past catches. all of oskar's fish are weighed, and when he reaches his yearly quota, he must stop fishing. but he is also protected. the number of permits is fixed,
and without one, competitors can't enter the fleet. critics see this as an exclusive franchise to harvest a rich national resource. and the permit, or quota, is transferable. oskar could sell his at a handsome profit since he didn't really have to buy it. the net effect of these transferable quotas is just accelerating a major geographical trend in iceland. gudrun olafsdottir is a cultural geographer at the university of iceland, studying migration patterns. she is heading for the small island of flatey on iceland's west coast. but when she arrives, olafsdottir finds a virtual ghost town. ( bird chattering raucously ) olafsdottir: what's so interesting about the islands is that they had so many resources to draw from.
narrator: in addition to seabirds and their eggs, the early islanders hunted seals for meat and skins, and they fished. these fish are being dried by some of the two dozen summer residents of flatey. 100 families once lived here year-round, but today only five remain. the geographer has been documenting a central fact of icelandic life due to factors much larger than fishing quotas: more and more people have been leaving small towns for the cities, especially reykjavík. olofsdottir: island communities that were dependent on a subsistence economy, they have disappeared. the others that were able to produce for an international market, they have survived. narrator: although flatey was never a major producer of anything,
many small fishing ports could also fade away due to the sale of fishing quotas. in those places without the geographic benefits of access, infrastructure or economies of scale, boat owners would rather sell their permits than compete at a disadvantage. so they cash in, take large gains and retire to a warm climate. most all permits go to larger operators in bigger ports leaving many smaller towns with only the sounds of their original inhabitants. ( tern squawking ) american fisheries also suffer from significant declines. perhaps we can learn much from iceland's experience. as boats like this are withdrawn from service, iceland's regulated fish stocks can sustain a more efficient but smaller fleet. perhaps we can follow their example
and still avoid some of the high social costs. at the edge of the habitable world, icelanders have benefited greatly from interactions with the natural environment. it seems for now they have restored depleted cod stocks and achieved sustainable harvests. the larger pattern of rural- to-urban migration continues, reinforced by changes in the ownership of the fishing fleet.