Thursday, September 27, 2007
Here's something I've been fascinated by for a few years now -- our planet doesn't actually look the way we think it looks. Which is to say, the standard Mercador projection maps/globes that represent 'the world' to pretty much all of us, due to our constant exposure to such from birth onwards... aren't correct.
The above two graphics are alternate projections of what the world looks like. The top shows a Gall-Peters projection of what the world actually looks like from orbit. The bottom shows an actual world map drawn with a method called the Hobo-Dyer Equal Area Projection. Both methods avoid the ancient Mercador mapping method's built in bias towards industrialized, non-Equatorial countries, and present a much more geographically accurate view of the planet we all live on.
It fascinates me to see stuff like this. I would love to get a projection of countries with their borders over the top graphic; a half hour search of the Internet doesn't turn anything like that up, though, so I'm forced to look from one to the other and interpolate. Still, even doing that, it seems obvious that the Sahara Desert (if, indeed, that's the Sahara Desert taking up the entire northern third of Africa and most of the Middle East) is actually larger than the entire United States. Africa itself is three times larger than North America. The Middle East is nearly half our size.
It also brings home just how geographically blighted much of the world is. The yellow regions I'm going to assume are deserts, or at least, very arid areas where little grows. A huge stretch of terrain that would, without intense high tech support, be almost completely uninhabitable seems to stretch from northwestern Africa through the edge of China, and included in that vast swath of Earth's surface are all of the Middle East, 12 countries in Northern Africa, and all of the 'stans. An area almost three times as large as the entire U.S. doesn't get enough yearly rainfall to grow a corn crop.
Of course, we have quite a few deserts within our own continental boundaries, but just look at all that lush growing area. Maybe we really could actually run all our cars on corn oil if we tried... presuming, of course, we all wanted to become vegetarians, as our enormous meat industry is entirely dependent on massive amounts of corn we grow specifically for use as livestock feed.
How lucky have we been, here in the United States? How appreciative have we been of our enormous geographic good fortune? How willing to share?
Of course, it's not like our ancestors just stumbled into ownership of a huge continent laden with some of the best land on the planet. Our forefathers worked hard to conquer America, and why shouldn't we, their descendents, feel entitled by that tough and hazardous labor on their part to slam the door in every other latecomer's faces? Our pioneer progenitors kicked ass from coast to coast so their kids could have easy lives betting on football games in office pools while the chick in the next cubicle bends over to show us her thong strap, and by God, if we don't want to share that culture of lazy decadence with a bunch of desert dwelling towelheads, nappy haired jungle bunnies or greasy browed banditos, who the fuck are they or anyone else to call us on it? Our great great grandparents didn't spend all that time distributing firewater and passing out smallpox laden blankets to the heathen goddam injuns just so their distant descendents could roll over and spread wide for a bunch of fucking foreigners who weren't lucky enough to be born in America. Screw that noise.
Still, it's very interesting to me, to see how comparatively tiny, say, all of Western Europe is, compared to us. Look at it! The whole fucking place is barely the size of Rhode Island. Look at how adorable the entire British Empire is. And cute little Portugal, tucked into Spain's tiny little western flank like that. Shit, I never even knew where Portugal was before I saw those maps.
Of course, Mexico is nearly as big as we are, Canada is even bigger, and Russia... or China... jesus christ, the nerve of those bastards, they're WAY bigger than the good ol' U.S. of A. Fuckers. I say we bomb the shit out of them. Cut 'em down to size. By God. And Africa, too. That fucking continent is WAY too goddam big for its britches.
Wait a minute. Maybe there's a cheaper solution...
Okay. Now I feel better.