Friday, February 20, 2009

Mapping the Human Toll of Climate Change

The Science Progress blog, a project of the Center for American Progress, has put up a new global map, using the GoogleMap program, that shows the human toll of climate change. The map can be found here.

This is a fascinating map which places data points at various places across the globe, each showing a particular vulnerability of the area to climate-related phenomena. For example, by clicking a point off the Southwestern coast of Africa, I learn that Namibia fishing stocks, which account for 6% of GDP, are at risk of being depleted by warmer waters and changing seawater composition. This map is interactive, and anyone can add a data point, so long as it is backed-up by scientific research.

An interesting aspect of this map, and of climate research overall, is that it appears that the effects on western countries, especially the US, will be more dramatic than the rest of the world. If you focus on the US as part of the map, the data points are dense and ominous, whereas Russia seems to be reasonably unaffected, for example. Of course, this only betrays a selection bias. Just because more research has been done on the US, it does not mean that Russia is safe, while the US is doomed to burn. It only means that scientists in the US are more active in this area than Russian scientists.

One of the goals of the TDCCS is to expand that base of knowledge beyond the developed world, and to better publicize the risk of climate change to areas around the world.

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