Maps, politics, global warming and cultural perspective

Oh dear readers, you know I am a sucker for maps and a new one just caught my attention. Really, I am far behind in sharing the maps that I come across that help explain this, that and the other in our world. To recap though, I recently wrote about a dialectic map of the USA.  I’ve also written about the missed connections that are most cited in various parts of the USA, a map of American stereotypes by state and what Americans think of Americans and I am far from done.

This most recent map I’ve come across is a map showing “global warming’s biggest offenders” by country represented by the bloated (or lack thereof) size of the country on the map of the world. The map was originally created by Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and then brought to wider attention by John Metcalfe and The Atlantic Cities.

This map courtesy of Jamie Condliffe at Gizmodo via Jeramiah Tillman’s blog, “Enjoy the moment

From the study:

Western Europe, the U.S., Japan and India are hugely expanded, reflecting emissions much greater than would be expected based on their geographic area. Russia, China and Brazil stay the same. Taken in this light, the climate contributions of Brazil and China don’t seem so out of line – they are perfectly proportionate to the countries’ land masses. Canada and Australia become stick thin as their land mass is much larger than their share of the global-warming pie.

From Metcalfe’s article:

The researchers’ biggest claim is that a mere seven nations are behind 60 percent of the world’s warming up to 2005. The United States tops their ranking in a big way, a finding that’s sure to bring joy to the heart of Americans who insist on being first. The country is to blame for a global temperature uptick of about 0.15 Celsius – or to put it as a piece of the pie, a fifth of all warming since the mid-1700s.

The U.S. is followed by China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany, and the U.K.. Brazil makes the list not so much for its industry, but for rampant deforestation before its government got serious about regulating loggers. Runner-ups include France, Indonesia, and in tenth place, Canada. All 10 countries earned their “offender” distinctions due to the bulk of all emissions they generated, whether it be CO2 from burning fossil-fuels and land-use changes or less-prevalent gases like methane and nitrous oxide.

I am not at all surprised by America’s or Australia’s size on this map. I am surprised by Germany’s size though considering how supposedly ‘green’ the country is. There are other more precise maps associated with the study too, depending on general temperature change and various emissions. It is worth checking out the full study if you too are into maps and care about climate change too.

The Economist recently published an article about Germany’s green future as it transitions from Nuclear Energy to exclusively other energy sources by 2022. In a nutshell, electricity and energy in general is going to become expensive in Germany and so far, there is no way around this. This is unfortunate since yes, nuclear energy is incredibly inexpensive and relatively safe, except when it isn’t. Then it is really, really bad!

From the Economist article:

Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes. At certain times on some days, sun and wind power may provide almost all German electricity. But the sun does not always shine, especially in winter, and the wind is unpredictable. And “batteries”—storage technologies that, for example, convert power to gas and back again to electricity—on a scale sufficient to supply a city are years away. Nuclear-power plants are being phased out (this week’s court decision that the closure of a plant in Hesse was illegal will raise costs even more, as it may entitle the operator to more compensation). So conventional power plants have to stay online in order to assure continuous supply.

So, it remains to be seen if, when the nuclear power plants are taken off line, Germany will be cleaner but more expensive or still quite a contributor to greenhouse gases.

I had a really good conversation with a friend from the Midwest US the other week and she explained to me that in the Midwest, coal was king for a long time. Yet, there is NO SUCH THING as clean coal. It is a marketing gimmick. If having to choose between coal and nuclear energy, nuclear energy is the cleaner of the two options for her area. It was a great, different perspective for me. After all Portland closed it’s power plant, Trojan, years and years ago, but not before it reached infamy via the Simpson‘s – even if Springfield nuclear power plant wasn’t entirely inspired solely by Trojan alone.

If for nothing else, at least articles, maps, and studies like this can help us reflect on what kind of energy we want in our back yards and around the world thus (hopefully) helping us to make informed decisions when the time comes to make those decisions.

 

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