Friday, September 20, 2019

The World's Worst Climate Sinners

If we want to avoid a climate change catastrophe then every person on Earth needs to restrict their CO2 output to 2.7 tonnes a years. For comparison, if you took a return flight from Vienna to New York in economy class, you would consume about 2.8 tonnes of CO2.

Moment has created an interactive map which shows which countries around the world are currently exceeding the 2.7 tonnes of CO2 output per person, and in which countries the population are outputting less. On the World Map of Climate Sinners the countries colored red/pink are largely responsible for climate heating. The countries colored green have reasons to be very upset with the rest of the world.

If you select a country on the map you can view the per capita annual CO2 output. For example, in the USA the average person produces around 15.74 tonnes of CO2 every year. This is around 6 times more than the 2.7 tonnes per person which would limit global heating to around 2 ° C by 2050.

America isn't alone in causing global heating. People in most of the developed world are exceeding the target 2.7 tonnes of CO2 output. In fact the developed world is even more guilty than the map shows. On this map CO2 output from manufacturing is shown in the country of manufacture. Much of the consumption in the developed world is the consumption of products developed in the developing world. Therefore on this map a lot of consumption in the developed world is shown as developing world CO2 output.

The target of 2.7 tonnes of CO2 output per person was calculated by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna. This target, it is estimated, would limit global heating to 2 ° C by 2050.

France's Nuclear Paradise

Between 1960 and 1996 France carried out 193 nuclear tests in French Polynesia in the South Pacific. The tests have had a devastating and long lasting impact on the area's islands and people. You can learn more about France's nuclear testing program in Nuclear Dissent, an interactive multimedia report into the effect of France's nuclear testing in French Polynesia during the second half of the Twentieth Century.

The documentary uses a combination of video, photos and audio to tell the story of where and when France carried out nuclear tests in the South Pacific. The documentary also explores the legacy of this nuclear testing, including the spread of cancer, the damage to the food chain and the irreparable harm caused to the environment.

In order to bring the story a little closer to home Nuclear Dissent also includes an interactive map which allows you to see the effects of dropping a nuclear bomb in your own backyard. Enter your address into the map and you can explore the fallout that would result from dropping a selection of different sized nuclear weapons on your home.

A number of concentric circles are displayed on the interactive map, centered on your address, to show the fallout range of your selected nuclear bomb. The outer circle shows the thermal zone, the radius within which people will receive third degree burns. Inside this, the next largest circle, is the air blast zone. In this radius buildings will be knocked over from the pressure of the bomb's air blast. Inside this zone is the radiation zone, inside of which 50-90% of people will die from radiation. The smallest circle represents the fireball zone, inside which temperatures reach as high as the sun.

Nuclear Dissent has a very long loading time. If you are impatient, or your device struggles loading Nuclear Dissent, then you can always explore the effects of nuclear bombs on a number of other interactive maps. Both NUKEMAP and Ground Zero allow you to view the potential damage that a wide choice of nuclear weapons would have when dropped on locations around the world. You can also use Outrider - Bomb Blast - which comes with some realistic looking nuclear fallout effects.

Outrider - Bomb Blast allows you to choose from a range of different types of nuclear weapon and select whether you want to detonate the bomb at ground level or as an air burst. You can then view the likely damage on an interactive map. The map shows the likely radius of the fireball, radiation, shock-wave and heat zones. It also provides an estimate of the number of fatalities and injuries your nuclear weapon would cause when dropped on your location.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Papua Environmental Atlas

The Papua region, which makes up the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, is largely undeveloped. While this lack of development is wonderful for the environment it also means that 53 percent of the population doesn't have access to electricity. More than 25% of people living in the Papua region also live below the poverty line.

The government of Indonesia has decided to accelerate infrastructure development in the Papua region. This may have some positive benefits for some of the indigenous population. It could also have a hugely negative effect on the environment. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has therefore released a new interactive mapping tool which it hopes will help planners, officials and policymakers monitor the environmental effects of new infrastructure projects.

The Papua Atlas allows users to view forest loss, plantation & mine development, and road construction. The map uses satellite data dating back to 2001 which can be used to create time-lapse animations which show the impacts of logging, plantation development and road building. It includes a number of different tools for exploring how infrastructure projects are impacting on the local environment. For example you can visualize forest loss for 1 km on either side of public roads to visualize the impact of road development on the immediate environment.

So far the Papua region has managed to avoid the fate of the island of Borneo. In 1973 three quarters of Borneo was covered in tropical forest. Since 1973 over one third of that forest has been lost due to industrial logging and the spread of industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations. CIFOR's original interactive deforestation map, the Borneo Atlas, shows where Borneo's tropical forests have been lost and the incredible scale of this continuing deforestation. Hopefully CIFOR's new Papua Atlas will help the Papua region avoid the same levels of deforestation.

What's in a Streetname?

Inspired by Data Stuff's The Beautiful Hidden Logic in Cities the mapping team at the City of Amsterdam has been mapping out the street names of Amsterdam. What's in a Streetname? is an interactive map which colors Amsterdam's streets based on their name endings (i.e. whether they are streets, roads, lanes, alleys etc.).

Streets in many American cities are often organized into a grid system with street names decided by compass direction. So most roads running south-north might be called 'streets' while streets running west-east would be called 'avenues' - or vice versa. You probably won't be surprised to learn that in Amsterdam, a city which has grown up around canals, water seems to play a very large role in determining the name endings of many of the city's streets.

streets whose name endings relate to water and canals

The roads on either side of the canals in Amsterdam's famous canal ring (the light blue lines on the map) are all named for the canals which they follow  ('gracht' = 'canal'). As well as having streets named for canals Amsterdam has lots of streets which are named for quays (kade), dikes (dijk), waterways (gouw), and a large encircling canal (singel).

You can explore the frequency and distribution of the different types of street in Amsterdam for yourself by using the filters in the map legend. Using the legend you can select to view any type of street (or any combination of different types of street) on the interactive map.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Killing Child Mortality

The New York Times has published an interactive map which shows how child mortality rates are improving around the world. According to the Times Almost Everywhere, Fewer Children are Dying. In fact since the beginning of the 21st Century child mortality rates have been cut in half.

The Times' interactive map visualizes the reduction in child mortality from 2000-2017. The red patch on the map outlines the four regions of Syria where the rate of child mortality has actually grown during this period. Since 2000 child mortality rates have dropped in all but one of the 97 countries with the highest child mortality rates. The one exception, Syria, has been beset by a devastating civil war.

If you mouse-over individual countries on the NYT map you can view the percentage by which child mortality rates have dropped (or risen in the case of Syria). You can also view a chart showing the child mortality rate in the selected country for every year since the turn of the century.

The Times article takes a close look at how child mortality rates have been improved in a number of different countries and regions. Malnutrition is a contributing factor in nearly half of all child deaths. Therefore they can be prevented. Economic inequality and political unrest often seem to be the biggest stumbling blocks in those countries which are struggling the most to lower their rates of child mortality.

A Real-Time Map of the Galaxy

NASA's Your Galactic Neighborhood is a digital orrery which shows the real-time position of the planets in our solar system. Like a traditional mechanical orrery Your Galactic Neighborhood provides a model of the Solar System that shows the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons.

As well as visualizing the position of the planets and moons Your Galactic Neighborhood shows the real-time position of some of NASA's spacecraft. For example you can see the current position of the Parker Solar Probe, which is on target to pass through the Sun's atmosphere closer to the Sun's surface than any spacecraft before. 

If you select a planet or moon on NASA's digital orrery you can view a 3D model of the planet. This close-up view includes information on the planet, its moons and distance from the sun. It also includes a link to NASA's dedicated page on the selected planet.

NASA don't seem to have a direct link to its digital orrery. To access Your Galactic Neighborhood you need to click on the small animated solar system graphic in the header of NASA's Solar System Exploration website.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Segregating San Francisco

According to the Haas Institute the San Francisco Bay area is more segregated now than it was 50 years ago. The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley has analysed levels of racial residential segregation in the Bay Area since 1980 and concluded that seven of the Bay Area’s nine counties have become more racially segregated.

You can explore the results of the Haas Institute's research on the Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area interactive map. Census tracts on the map are colored to show whether they have a low, moderate, or high level of segregation. The map includes a simple timeline control which makes it very easy to see which neighborhoods in the Bay Area have become more or less segregated over time. The map also includes filters which allows you to view how 'isolated' a specific racial group is in each county.

The interactive map is just one tool released as part of the Institute's three part investigation into Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area. This investigation explored US Census data to see how residential racial segregation has changed in each decade since 1980. While most counties in the Bay Area have become more segregated, counties, such as Napa, Sonoma, and Marin, are now dramatically more segregated than they were in 1980.

The Timeline of American Universities

Founded in Massachusetts in 1636, Harvard University was the first college of higher education in America. In fact for 57 years Harvard was the only university in America - until the founding of the College of William & Mary in 1693. Yale University was the fourth university to be founded, opening in 1701.

Nine universities in total were founded before the United States of America became a sovereign nation in 1776 after the American Revolution. These nine are collectively known as the colonial colleges. Seven of these nine are part of the Ivy League athletic conference. The eighth Ivy League college, Cornell, was founded after the American Revolution, in 1865.

You can explore when all American universities were originally founded on the Timeline of Higher Education in America interactive map. This map plots the location of every American university based on its foundation date. Adjust the timeline on the map and you can see universities opening up across the USA, sweeping from the east with the westward expansion of the United States.

According to the map America's youngest universities are Indiana University Fort Wayne and Northern Vermont University, both of which were founded in 2018.

Saints & Sinners of America

Having explored the spatial distribution of towns and villages named for saints, in my Saints Of Europe interactive map, I was intrigued to see which towns in the USA have been given the names of saints.

Saints and Sinners shows the location of towns and villages in the USA which include the prefixes 'St', 'Saint', 'San' or 'Santa'. To add a little spice to the map I also added the location of all roads which include 'devil' in their name. There don't appear to be any towns or cities in the U.S. which have the word 'devil' in their name - but there are a few streets which have been inspired by the devil.

Towns starting with the words 'St' or 'Saint' are mostly found in the eastern states.

As you might expect there is a distinct difference in the spatial distribution of towns with the Spanish prefixes of 'San' and 'Santa' and those with the English prefixes 'St' and 'Saint'. Towns and cities which start with 'San' or 'Santa' can be found almost exclusively in California and in states bordering Mexico (particularly Texas and New Mexico). Towns and cities starting with the words 'St' or 'Saint' are mostly found in the eastern states.

All the data for the map comes from OpenStreetMap. To get the data I used Overpass Turbo. I queried Overpass Turbo to find towns and cities in the USA which included the words 'St', 'Saint', 'San' and 'Santa'. You can see how the Overpass Turbo query is formed in the example below:

area["name"="United States"]->.boundaryarea;
node(area.boundaryarea)[place=town] ["name"~"Santa "];
node(area.boundaryarea)[place=city] ["name"~"Santa "];
// print results
out body;
out skel qt;

To search for roads named devil you just need to change the word 'node' to 'way' in the query and delete the filter to search for towns and cities (e.g. delete '[place=town]').

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Difference Between Streets and Roads

In the UK you won't find many roads in the centers of many towns and cities. This isn't because they are pedestrianized. It is because the word 'road' was rarely used as part of a toponym before the late 16th Century. Up until the 17th Century roads were called something else, such as 'streets' or 'lanes'. For this reason any city or town in England, which still retains its medieval street patterns, will probably have very few 'roads' in its center. For example the City of London famously has no roads.

Because of the relative modernity of America as a country I wouldn't expect to see the same lack of streets named 'road' in American cities. However, judging by the maps in The Beautiful Hidden Logic in Cities there appear to be very few roads in lots of American cities as well. Data Stuff has created a series of maps on which city roads are colored to show whether they are called 'Avenue', 'Boulevard', 'Street', 'Road' etc. Most cities in these maps seem to be dominated by streets and avenues.

In the USA I know that lots of cities have organized their grid systems by compass direction. So south-north streets might be mostly called 'streets' while east-west streets are called 'avenues' - or vice versa. However this doesn't explain the lack of roads. This 'compass grid' convention could still be maintained by having 'roads and 'streets' or 'roads' and 'avenues'. Besides in some cities this naming convention isn't used. For example in San Francisco (pictured above) we still have mostly roads called 'streets' and 'avenues' however these are split geographically rather than by compass direction. So in San Francisco we find that streets in the west of the city are mostly called 'Avenue' and roads in the west of the city are mainly called 'Street'.

There must therefore be another reason why cities in the USA don't appear to have many streets named 'Road'. The Wikipedia article on Street argues that "a street is characterized by the degree and quality of street life it facilitates, whereas a road serves primarily as a through passage for road vehicles". According to this definition we would therefore expect to see more 'streets' in busy urban environments and more 'roads' in more rural areas. This rural-urban distinction between 'roads' and 'streets' is new to me (and I'm not sure it is true of UK 'roads' and 'streets') however it may be supported by another map from Data Stuff.

Road Suffixes in the USA contains a number of choropleth maps showing the density of road names in U.S. counties. Data Stuff's analysis of road names suggests that roads named 'road' are by far the biggest number of roads by mileage in the USA - with three times as many roads (by mileage) called 'road' than the next most popular name of roads called 'street'. The lack of streets named 'road' in American cities and the fact that there are more 'roads' than any other form of street in the whole of the U.S. suggests that there is a huge urban-rural split in the location roads named 'road' and 'street'.

Someone needs to carry out a spatial analysis of the distribution of streets named 'road' and 'street' in comparison to population density.