Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mapping the World

Danny Dorling and his team of the University of Sheffield in U.K. has made their efforts to put global inequalities into a new perspective. Specifically, he aimed to produce 365 new world maps that revealed social and economic disparities with the help of a special algorithm that re-sizes countries in proportion to the value being mapped.

Take image 213 (above), for example, which depicts public health spending based on UN data. Many African countries seem to disappear from the picture even though they face epidemics of horrific infectious diseases, such as HIV and malaria. On the other polar, Uncle Sam is now consuming roughly 15% of its Gross Domestic Product.
Map 219 (left), depicting numbers of working physicians, show that there aren't enough doctors where they are needed. Unfortunately, like map 213, Africa in this map is like a droplet of blood.

To make the point of inequality deeply, the Worldmapper project offers map 229 (blow), showing the distribution of malaria cases across the globe based on World Health Organization data. Parellel to my intuition, Africa is the mostly suffered region. But ironically, the shape of this region is more or less the same as a human's heart.

And poster 260 (left below) shows how Asia has a long way to lower the rate of early neonatal deaths there. Although big challenges ahead, Middle and South Asia really need to do some serious work to put infant mortality rates down.

Looking at the maps, it's easy to get shocked on all of the unfairness in the world. But I think it's more imporatant that we need to ask ourselves what we can do to bring balance back into the picture. And just like New Scientist has pointed out, Dorling's job is far from done: he and his colleagues should regularly update their maps so that we know whether we're heading in the right direction.

(Based on New Scientist Blog, Jan 30, 2007)

No comments: