Saturday, January 22, 2011

Greenland is Projected As A Giant Land Mass But In Reality It Is Not

Laurrrrita Wooley Mammoth showed this to me when she was in Montreal.

This is a map of the world. Did you know there are more than one different projections of maps? I did not, which was probably naive of me. Forgive me for thinking that map making might be objective/accurate.

The photo above is a mercator map. You might recognize this type of map as seen in all your classrooms, my bedroom which probably never been in, textbooks, etc. It has its uses. It's good for navigating the seas. It shows the shapes of countries accurately. But it also distorts the size of countries the farther away from the equator they are. For example, in this map, Greenland is almost as big as Africa, when in reality Africa is 14 times larger than Greenland. The problem with the mercator projection is that it tends to make the West seem a lot larger than it is. Does this sound like some sort of familiar colonialist rhetoric?

If you notice in this map, Greenland is tiny, and Africa is HUGE. China is HUGE. Brazil is HUGEish. And Europe, and Canada, and the United States got a little smaller.

This is apparently what the actual size of countries are. I don't know. (I'm finding it a lot harder to trust map-makers now). It's likely that I'll never know unless I find a way to go into space and position my rocket in a way so I can compare the size of different countries. The problem is that you can't show both shape and size accurately. You have to pick one.

Now this is a site you want to read. I'm serious. It's well worth your time.

Okay so the picture I wanted to show you doesn't work because my background is black. But here it is.

Greenland is 0.8 million square miles. China is 3.7 million square miles.

Go. Go read this right now. Have your world view changed.


Anonymous said...

The Peters map is a trainwreck though, it has size right, but at the expense of everything else.

The reason all maps are wrong is because the earth is a sphere, so you can't convert it into a flat rectangle. But you can trust globes, which are literally just a model of the earth's surface.

FROG'S new PAD said...

WHOA! pull back the reins!? I will have to research THIS?!