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National Geographic MagazineNational Geographic Magazine

National Geographic Magazine December 2018

The latest news in science, exploration, and culture will open your eyes to the world’s many wonders. Get a National Geographic digital magazine subscription today and experience the same high-quality articles and breathtaking photography contained in the print edit.

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National Geographic Society
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12 Issues


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our commitment to a planet in balance

LEGENDARY CONSERVATIONIST Jane Goodall often says, “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help.” For 130 years the National Geographic Society has inspired generations of people to better understand and care for our planet.This enduring legacy underscores our role as changemakers who illuminate the wonders of our world, identify the threats, and discover solutions. Today our ultimate goal is to catalyze action to achieve a planet in balance.The world we have celebrated is now changing in ways our founders could never have imagined. When the Society was established in 1888, there were roughly 1.5 billion people on Earth. Now there are more than 7.6 billion. The issues we face are significant: a race for resources to provide for a growing global population, a warming…

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‘we can lay down the burden of race’

John Lewis is a recipient of the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.‘I BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE TO COME TO THAT POINT WHERE WE CREATE A SENSE OF ONENESS.’Throughout 2018 National Geographic National Geographic has produced special reports on diversity in America. We began in April—at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination—with an entire issue looking at race, including racist behavior in our organization’s history. To cap this year’s coverage, we sought the insights of John Lewis. In his youth he marched for civil rights with King; today, at 78, the Georgia Democrat has served 16 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.Susan Goldberg: It feels like discourse about race and diversity in the United States has taken on such a hard…

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season of the whale

Yugu Alfred Ningeok is the son of a whaling captain and a member of an Inupiat whaling crew.An umiak, or skin boat, carries a small team in pursuit of a whale.A butchered bowhead whale can yield thousands of pounds of food. The ninit—community shares of meat and blubber—are apportioned equitably to ensure that everyone benefits from a successful hunt.“The highest aspiration you can have is to become a whaling captain,” says photographer Kiliii Yüyan. “It’s a job that provides for the entire community.”Thomas William Kingosak always carries a rifle during whale hunts to use in case a polar bear attacks. Polar bears have been known to approach hunting camps in search of food.Bowhead whales are adapted to extremely cold water. On their annual migration through the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas,…

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the backstory

A hunter listens to the water for songs of nearby whales.ON THE NORTH SLOPE OF ALASKA, the culture of the Inupiat centers on whales. Each spring, men and women spend weeks on the tuvaq—the ice near the water—watching for bowhead whales migrating north from the Bering Sea to the Canadian Arctic. When one is spotted, a team pushes an umiak onto the water. There is typically one chance to harpoon the whale. If the hunt is successful, each person in the village can receive a share of the meat.This story of cultural continuity enthralled photographer Kiliii Yüyan. Yüyan is indigenous himself, a descendant of the Hezhe (Nanai in Russian) hunters and fishermen of northern China and southeast Siberia. Stories portraying indigenous communities as degraded or destitute miss their complexity, says…

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the global peril of inequality

THE WORLD’S RICHEST countries, such as Luxembourg and the United States, have average incomes per person about 100 times higher than in the poorest countries, such as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That’s a tragedy for poor countries. Is it also a looming tragedy for rich ones?Until recently all those poor people elsewhere were no threat to rich countries. “They” out there didn’t know much about our lifestyle—and even if they did and became angry, they couldn’t do anything about it.But today, poor remote countries are able to create problems for rich ones, and the reasons can be summed up in a word: globalization. As a result of the increased connections among all parts of the world, people in developing countries know more about differences in living…

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other threats facing earth

In my forthcoming book, Crisis and Change, Crisis and Change, I identify four problems that threaten the human population and living standards around the world—and perhaps even the continued existence of civilization. Inequality is one; here are the other three.Nuclear attack. Plausible scenarios include a preemptive strike by one nation to destroy a rival’s arsenal (e.g., Pakistan and India), escalation through miscalculating a rival’s response (e.g., North Korea and the United States), a false alarm of a rival’s missile launch (we know of four times this happened to the U.S. and Soviet Union), and, especially likely, terrorists stealing a nuclear power’s bomb or making their own dirty bomb.Climate change. It’s already causing rising average temperatures, droughts, increased weather variability, decreased food production, spread of diseases, and rising sea levels.Resource depletion. We…