I've just signed a contract to write this column for another year. It's a chance to think about why I write.
Each week I cut the Opinion page from Tuesday' s Wanganui Chronicle and file it in a black 20-page clear-file. Each page contains my column, the editorial and a colour cartoon on the issues of the day ... maybe a grandchild will read it one day.
"Books are letters to the future," said the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk and I am also writing a book that I call Mapping the Millispheres, a millisphere being a discrete region inhabited by roughly one-thousandth of the total world population (2017 global population estimate 7.7 billion).
A weekly deadline motivates me to write and the commensurate editing is invaluable.
So far I've touched on the millispheres of Te Moananui/NZ, Papua, Bali, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Singapore/Riau, Cebu, Da Nang, Hong Kong, Beijing, Changchun, Tibet, Kashmir, Pashtunistan, North Afghanistan, Aleppo, Kurdistan, Rojava, Euphrates/Sunni tribes, Asi, Palestine, Bahrain, Riyadh, Switzerland, Catalonia, London, Yorkshire/Humberside, Scotland, Miami, Cuba, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Mapuche. That's 33 so far — a third of the way to 100.
The millisphere is a lens to examine human geography. It concerns itself with populations and sometimes ignores state boundaries (for example all the states and territories of the Pacific are lumped together to form the millisphere of Te Moananui).
The world's population is growing but not growing uniformly. Some millispheres are growing rapidly and others are not replacing themselves by childbirth.
Most of the world's fastest-growing populations are in sub-Saharan Africa and the static or slowest growing populations are in Europe. The boat people currently heading north across the Mediterranean are leaving fast-growing millispheres and heading for slow (or no) growth ones.
The Economist magazine once speculated about the existence of a "religious" gene. Orthodox/conservative/fundamentalist religious groups — whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim — have more children than their more secular brethren, they observed.
Islamic wars have created an entire millisphere of refugees from the Middle East. Most of Syria's refugees are in the surrounding countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. At present, Turkey has more refugees than any country, followed by Pakistan and Iran.
Millions of Bengalis have spilled out of Bangladesh in recent years, while Donald Trump's Mexican border wall is a joke — these days Latinos and Latinas fly in as tourists and then overstay. About one millisphere of migrants cross from Mexico into the US every decade.
Add the 10 millispheres per decade of Chinese peasant-farmers who have moved to China's cities and we have a 21st century constant — mass emigration, some from conflict but mostly "economic refugees" leaving to seek their fortune in the promised land.
Meanwhile the people of the promised land are getting worried about climate change. Simply put, there are three "Green" things we can all do to reduce human-induced climate change — have fewer children; consume less stuff; and travel less.
Last week I received an email from Vietnam disputing some of the facts in my "What tourism shouldn't be" column (Chronicle; November 14) about the venue for the recent APEC 2017 conference in Vietnam.
The Hotel InterContinental in Da Nang was not American-owned, as I had stated, and they didn't have guard towers, I was told (presumably hosting Xi, Trump and Putin meant that the security would be a notch or two higher than men in guard towers).
I had assumed that it was the well-known "Intercontinental" hotel chain started by Pan Am in the 1950s, not thinking that the Vietnamese Sun Group was mining this internationally recognised name. I'll be more careful in the future — but, yes, there were guard towers on China Beach in 2010, both along the road and the beach. I've got photos of them.
The one consensus at APEC 2017 would have been that we all have to consume more stuff, including travel ("800 million APEC tourist arrivals by 2025" is one of their goals).
Wanted: Correspondence about the following millispheres: Laos, South Sudan, Somaliland, Sinai, Libya, Rwanda, Harare/Zimbabwe, Manhattan/New York, Mosul, Crimea, Donetsk and any in Germany (preferably Karlsruhe). Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org