In Focus: Wealth on the British Isles

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Political InsightThe debate about the relevance and impact of the super-rich on society has gained greater currency as evidence continues to grow that the widening gap between the poor and the rich has a negative impact on societies as a whole. In otherwise affluent countries where the richest one per cent owns the most, child poverty is common, school attainment is lower and medium household incomes are depressed. Along with reduced average living standards, housing is of poorer quality, and health suffers as anxiety rises.
In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2014, Volume 5, Issue 3) Danny Dorling and I looked beyond the economic, social, educational and medical implications, focussing on the geographical lessons to learn when wealth concentrates. Where the richest of the rich live, work and where they keep their assets is even more imbalanced than the wider and growing underlying inequalities between rich and poor. In societies where the rich have less they tend to be more spread out across a country, but when the wealth of those at the top rises greatly there is a tendency to congregate – with London a prime example.

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The Human Planet: A modern Mappa Mundi

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A mappa mundi […] is any medieval European map of the world. […] To modern eyes, mappae mundi can look superficially primitive and inaccurate. However, mappae mundi were never meant to be used as navigational charts and they make no pretence of showing the relative areas of land and water. Rather, mappae mundi were schematic and were meant to illustrate different principles. The simplest mappae mundi were diagrams meant to preserve and illustrate classical learning easily. The zonal maps should be viewed as a kind of teaching aid—easily reproduced and designed to reinforce the idea of the Earth’s sphericity and climate zones” (cited from Wikipedia).
What would a mappa mundi of our times look like? A modern equivalent of such a map would have to focus on those spaces of our planet that we have a less vivid imagination of than the physical shape of the world that in medieval times was a much less familiar view than it is today. The following gridded population cartogram generated over the whole surface of Earth could be such a contemporary depiction of the world. It divides the world into equal spaces of population realigning the map view to show the human planet in a similar way as mappae mundi showed the world centuries ago:

Equal population projection map of the Earth's land and water surface
(click for larger version)

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A World Map of Organic Agriculture

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. (IFOAM 2009)

The practice of organic farming is not only relevant for soothing the bad conscience of wealthier societies, but it plays an important role in preserving croplands from degradation that is often caused by conventional intensive methods of farming. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognised this need and set up the Organic Agriculture Programme. Its objective is “to enhance food security, rural development,sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing“. With a still growing world population and the rising demand for food, more sensible (and thus sustainable) ways of agriculture are needed more than ever to stop damage to the world’s arable lands.
In a joint paper published last year in the European Journal of Social Sciences (Vol. 24, Issue 3) John Paull and I presented a new world map of organic agriculture that presents countries as proportional in size to their share of the total of world organic hectares (data sources are described in the paper, reference see below):

Cartogram / World Map of Organic Agriculture
(click for larger version)

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Fair Play

The recent protests over the economic crisis gained wider attention with the Occupy Wall Street movement and sparked similar actions across the globe over the weekend. Besides a critique of the financial institutions and the banking sector, the demonstrations are also an expression of the uncertain living conditions that many people feel exposed to in an economically bleak time. They are also a reflection of the growing gaps within the societies of the wealthier world, where the poorest and richest parts of the society increasingly drift apart. This is a trend that the protesters see as unfair and problematic.
Fair Play is a new book which “brings together a selection of highly influential writings [that] look at inequality and social justice, why they matter and what they are. […] ‘Fair Play’ provides evidence that Britain is becoming more politically, socially and economically divided whilst coming together in terms of educational outcomes and reduced segregation by ethnicity” (see more information on the book website). Continue reading

In Focus: US midterm elections 2010

Political InsightA map showing the US midterm elections results is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2011, Volume 2, Issue 1). The accompanying article written by Charles Pattie, Danny Dorling and me looks at the implications of the election results.

Here are the bibliographic details:
US Midterm Elections 2010 Thumbnail image

  • Pattie, C. Hennig, B. D. and Dorling, D. (2011). In Focus: US Midterm Elections 2010. Political Insight2 (1): 34.
    Article online (Wiley)

More electoral maps can be found here.

The content on this page has been created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0); please contact me for further details. I also appreciate a message if you used my maps somewhere else. High resolution and customized maps are available on request.

In Focus: Government Debt

Political InsightA map showing the Europe’s government debt is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight journal (December 2010, Volume 1, Issue 3). The accompanying article written by Danny Dorling and me explains why the UK’s deficit is particularly high.

Here are the bibliographic details:
EU Government Debt 2010 Thumbnail image

  • Dorling, D. and Hennig, B. D. (2010). In Focus: Government Debt. Political Insight1 (3): 106.
    Article online (Wiley)

More debt maps can be found here.

The content on this page has been created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0); please contact me for further details. I also appreciate a message if you used my maps somewhere else. High resolution and customized maps are available on request.