Map Monday: realities behind some economic and political considerations

Today’s maps take a look at some challenges for economic and political decision-making. Doing the right thing – like addressing climate change and global inequality – isn’t easy. But the issues are real, folks, and they’re scary. And they’re going to require bold and transformational changes, which takes courage. Let’s take a look at where we are today.  [Remember, you can click on any map to zoom in on more details.]

Each Country’s Top Export in the world.
You can see from this map, using 2018 UN Comtrade data, why weaning the world from oil and coal is no easy task. There are lots of jobs and tax dollars in play, in many countries. That doesn’t mean there can’t be just as many jobs and tax dollars in a green economy.

Russia and Europe have ties that bind.
Speaking of oil, since we are currently still hooked on it, this map tells the tale of why European countries – EU and otherwise – are sensitive to maintaining a working relationship with Russia despite many issues. That’s where their oil comes from, unless you’re Norway.

Fish stocks around the world.
This map brings into focus why the dispute on fishing quotas in the waters between Britain and France kept Brexit negotiations going for so long.  There are a lot of fish in those waters!

The world’s busiest container ports.
This 2012 map is older than I would like, but newer data suggests that the proportions of business remain the same, and I couldn’t find an updated map. There’s no doubt where the action is!

World Ecological Footprint.
This map takes some studying. It has a damning statement for all of us in the so-called developed nations. We are using far more of the Earth’s resources than can be regenerated or be available for people who are currently going without. A lot of this has to do with meat consumption.

As stated in the small print in the lower right of  the map:

The Ecological Footprint per person is a nation’s total Ecological Footprint divided by its total population. To live within the means of our planet’s resources, the world’s Ecological Footprint would have to equal the available biocapacity per person on our planet, which is 1.7 global hectares. So if a nations’ per person Ecological Footprint is 6.8 global hectares, its citizens are demanding four times the resources and wastes our planet can regenerate and absorb in the atmosphere.

Notice that the green countries on the Ecological Footprint map are those of the poorest countries. They’re the ones using less than their fair share of the planet’s resources, and they are hungry. Many of the bio-resources in their countries are being used to feed us. Very sadly, as well, much of our waste is going back to them.

But, world hunger has been abating.
This map has some cautiously optimistic news about decreases in world hunger. The data in this map is from 2017; let’s pray that the global pandemic doesn’t contribute to setting that trend back, or at least not for very long.

Plenty of food for thought.

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26 Responses to Map Monday: realities behind some economic and political considerations

  1. Gooner28 says:

    How do you visualise the Maps and integrate them in the site?
    By the way the post was eye opening!!!

  2. Johnny Jones says:

    Thank you for putting together such an informative post. I love the visuals too, as that is how I learn best. With so much change going on around the world, it is useful to see how each country fares in economic terms.

  3. Fascinating as always, Jane. Unfortunately, I think the pandemic has contributed to major world hunger issues that is causing a significant setback. Heard it on one of Canada’s national news channels, but I don’t recall the details.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, I’m afraid that’s the case, Debra. We must pray that the downturn isn’t long lived and doesn’t create much lasting damage. The closing off of much of the global trade and global travel during the pandemic is hard enough, but some Western countries are also pulling back on foreign aid as they grapple with their own pandemic and economic crises. Self-interest wins, but it will come back to haunt us. 😥

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    I daresay the export map is correct as to the main players but I have to wonder about BLOOD being the principle export of the Republic of Ireland and Ascension. What are they thinking of? All good stuff as always Jane.

  5. Some more interesting maps! I find it particularly interesting that, for all the talk of the U.S. wanting to “wane its dependence on foreign oil,” other places are dependent on us for that toxic stuff!!!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, and U.S. oil wants others to be dependent on their product, as well as keep all their domestic customers guzzling it. Some oil&gas companies see the future and are looking at moving beyond reliance on oil&gas. Boy, it’s a slow process!

  6. iidorun says:

    Your Map Mondays are always so eye opening! I knew that so called “1st world” countries used a disproportionate amount of resources compared to less developed nations. I’m sure this has something to do with colonialism and the fact that countries with more power have take from those with less and then don’t want to share. I found it interesting that it looks like Australia has the same ecological footprint as the USA. The fish stock one was also surprising! I didn’t realize how that was connected to Brexit. I have to agree with Bernie’s comment alive – you do a great job with these posts! Seriously – these deserve to be in a book!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Irma. Yes, I think the lifestyle of all the “Western” countries, including Australia, consume far more resources than any of us have, starting with what we eat, what that does to the environment, and where a lot of it comes from (and how it gets to us). It’s simply not sustainable. Nor is it possible within this framework for the developing countries to expect similar lifestyles – we’re already using way too many of the planet’s resources. When climate change really turns the screws on developing countries that will run out of water, the chickens will come home to roost. 😥

  7. bernieLynne says:

    I am in awe of the work you put into pulling together these posts that challenge us to think about our lives.

  8. Those are all really interesting maps. You are right that the fishing one perfectly captures why the UK-EU negotiations have been so fraught. But the one that really got my attention is the shipping containers one. It really shows how how powerful the Chinese economy is now. Very informative, as always. – Marty

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Marty. I know, aren’t the sizes of those Asian container ports astounding. I’ve seen the one in Hong Kong; it is mind-boggling in size. We in the “West” definitely live in our own little bubble, thinking things don’t change and that what we have is best. We need to widen our horizons!

  9. AMWatson207 says:

    These maps illustrate world issues and the need for individual responsibility. I’ve been thinking about my own footprint on the Earth and don’t like what I see. Thank you for continuing to issue the open handed invitation for us each to do better.

  10. candidkay says:

    Oh, these are so interesting–thank you for sharing! I’m recalling an exercise one of my professors assigned my graduate school class. It was a mock world/society in which we all had different roles. I ended up as head of what would be equivalent to the U.S.–one of the richest, most well-off countries. My class worked together to share resources and we successfully completed the exercise–with enough food, water, etc. for all participants–in a few hours with lots of negotiating. My prof said other classes in previous years had gone well into the night with no resolution. Looking at these maps, feels like we might need a new kind of leadership for a globe that keeps getting smaller . . .

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this experience, Kristine. Powerful, and perhaps more powerful than you knew at the time. You’re sure right about the world’s leadership deficit. 😥

  11. Plenty of food for thought is right. Wonderful visualization of information in those maps. Glad I’m a vegetarian.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You go to the head of the class, Laurie. I think going at least mostly – or more – vegetarian is going to become essential. Meanwhile, whatever industrial agriculture is doing to their pigs and chickens, the pork chops and chicken breasts in the supermarkets are so big now that they make me nervous. What are they doing?!

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