Maps, as I’ve written before, are inherently subjective—no matter how detailed or scientific, they reflect our worldview and the age in which we’re living, not to mention the difficulty of projecting a spherical globe onto a plane surface. Now compound these challenges by asking 30 people to sketch a map of the world from memory. What would you get?
In the summer of 2012, Zak Ziebell, now a 17-year-old high school senior in San Antonio, did just that.
The U.S. suffers from staggering economic inequality — as staggering, in some places, as Nigeria, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. Richard Florida ran the numbers and compared cities in the U.S. to highly unequal foreign countries. That colorful map might look pretty, but its implications for U.S. income inequality are not.
In Virginia, the hispanic population is skyrocketing and the white population is dwindling. In the Maryland suburbs, diversity is growing. These stories and many more come from the census data that is displayed in this map. Use it to reveal your own stories. Type in your city or zip code below to get started.
NASA’s Earth Observatory just released a map illustrating where all the trees are in America. The map was created over six years by Josef Kellndorfer and Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey. The dark swaths of green represent parts of the country with the greatest concentration of biomass. You can see dense tree cover in the Pacific Northwest as well as New England, which has been reforested after intensive logging in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The New York Times has updated its interactive timeline of tornadoes and notes that, with the deaths from yesterday’s outbreak in Joplin, Missouri, 2011 is the deadliest year since 1953. Curious to see where tornadoes occur the most (realizing, of course, that this is information that I could easily find elsewhere), I combined all the years into the single map above. Blue dots represent tornado touchdowns, and yellow circles represent deaths.
An interesting observation from playing the timeline is that there is a large, step-wise increase in the number of touchdowns starting in 1996. Compare the number and spread of tornadoes since 1996 to the previous 45 years:
Except for 2011, the number of deaths for each year in this recent period is not significantly different from that of the previous years. Is the higher reported incidence of touchdowns due to better reporting, or have there really been more tornadoes in the last 15 years?