Anthropocene Worlds

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The effects of humans on the global environment are perceived to be so significant by some scientists that they argue humans have become a major driving force in environmental change on a par with the forces of nature. It is this rapid impact that has led some geologists to unofficially name (but not, as yet, officially recognise) this very recent period of the earth’s history as the Anthropocene.
Putting criticism and disputes over the geologic validity of this idea aside, the effects of human population and economic development as part of the processes of globalisation influence the natural environment as much as the natural environment previously determined the existence of human life across the globe. One part of our footprint are the major communication and transport infrastructure links that shape the human planet.

Human Worlds - A Map of the Anthropocene
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World at war: Global refugee trends

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UNHCR Global Trends 2014 Refugee ReportThe UNHCR Global Trends 2014 Report released earlier this weekby the UN High Commissioner for Refugees finds that “wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere“.
Commemorating World Refugee Day, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres declared in a statement that “around the world, almost 60 million have been displaced by conflict and persecution. Nearly 20 million of them are refugees, and more than half are children. Their numbers are growing and accelerating, every single day, on every continent.” But while the ‘western’ media takes an often embarrassingly western-centric view, and European politicians struggling to find solutions to this global crisis, the report also shows how big this human crisis really has become.
The following two cartograms show the most recent picture of global refugee trends in 2014 as published in the 2015 UNHCR report. The two maps use the total numbers for ‘refugees and people in refugee-like situations’ according to their country of origin and destination and resizes each country according to its absolute number of refugees. Excluded in these maps are those refugees whose origin is unknown or who are stateless or cannot be assigned to a specific country:

Cartograms / Maps of Refugee Origin and Destination Countries in 2014
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Species of the Greater London National Park

A city becoming a national park? What sounds almost like a contradiction is a very real idea. As the website of the Greater London National Park Campaign explains: “Uniquely combining a biodiverse landscape with nature reserves, parks and gardens, [London] covers an area of over 1,500 km2 and is home to more than 8 million people. Recognised as one of the world’s most important urban habitats, green, blue and open spaces occupy over 60% of London. Over 1,300 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation cover 19% of [London]. Londonwide the capital is home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plants. More than 300 species of bird have been recorded in the city. With over 300 languages spoken, 170 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of Britain’s National Trails the Greater London National Park* is open for you to explore.”
Pioneered by Guerrilla Geographer Dan Raven-Ellison who convinced an ever growing number of people to support him in his endeavour to turn London into the first National Park City. I was amongst those people making a little contribution by mapping out species counts from the database of Greenspace Information for Greater London. The maps were also included in the environment section of the Londonmapper project which I am working on, and they depict the distribution of each species in a cartogram-style map distorting the shapes of the London boroughs according to how many of each species have been sighted in an area. The following maps are from that series (of which I hope to get a few more mapped in future – are there any red squirrels in London?), and especially the hedgehogs came to fame during the launch of the Londonmapper website last year:

Hedgehog
London Species Map: Hedgehogs
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Changing Political Landscapes of Britain

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Three days after the UK general election, the formation of a new (old) Conservative government is in full preparation with few new faces on the one side, and soul searching and the search for new faces on the other side of the political spectrum. There has also been plenty of joy for map lovers (even if they may not be equally happy with the outcome), including my own map series of the winning parties in each constituency. The following map series uses the same approach but shows further details on how things have changed in the political landscape of the country compared to the 2010 general election:

Map views of the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom
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Global Gender Inequality

The unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender is a deeply rooted problem in most societies. It started becoming an important part of academic research in the 1980s. The issue of gender inequality also became in various measures part of the Human Development Index (HDI), the annual report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and was eventually integrated as the Gender Inequality Index (GII) in the 2010 report. It is designed to measure the loss of achievement within a country caused by gender inequality.

Map of Global Gender Inequality as shown in the Gender Inequality Index
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Death Penalty

Amnesty International has launched its most recent report on Death sentences and executions in 2014. In their annual report they publish the minimum figures of recorded death sentences and executions that they are able to verify. For producing a Worldmapper-style cartogram, absolute numbers are essential of course, which requires some decisions to be made which numbers go into the map transformation. For the following two maps, showing the death penalty executions and sentences in 2014, the minimum figures of validated cases provided in the report were used, or, where these were not stated, the estimated figures as stated in the report were used instead (China was set to 1000 to not dominate the cartogram entirely, even if the number is believed to be much higher than that). The maps therefore need to be seen as a general picture of the state of death penalty in the world, rather than the exact reality. As stated by Amnesty, “the real number of people executed is much higher. There are no figures for China, for example, which is believed to execute more people than the rest of the world put together. Other countries like Belarus also execute prisoners in secret, often without informing the detainees’ relatives or lawyers.”

Map of death penalty executions in 2014
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