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Comparing Lightning-Caused and Human-Caused U.S. Wildfires

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comparing acres burned by human-caused fires versus lightning in the U.S.

Comparing Lightning-Caused and Human-Caused U.S. Wildfires

Each year, thousands of acres of land are scorched by wildfires across the United States. While most of these fires are triggered by natural causes such as lightning, some are unfortunately caused by human activity.

This graphic by Gilbert Fontana uses data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) to show the number of acres burned across the U.S. between 2001 and 2021.

YearAcres burned (lightning-caused fires)Acres burned (human-caused fires)
20214,101,8843,023,759
20204,123,5235,998,813
20193,447,0381,217,324
20183,127,0035,640,489
20175,195,6104,830,476
20161,743,3853,766,610
20158,112,6882,012,461
20142,012,8431,582,770
20133,057,5661,261,980
20126,825,9892,500,249
20113,354,5965,356,771
20102,119,2751,303,449
20093,849,0402,072,746
20081,862,4773,429,991
20075,878,6913,449,360
20065,468,9014,404,844
20057,168,0621,521,327
20047,011,023964,800
20032,038,4431,922,249
20024,097,5933,077,119
20011,822,6001,748,661

Historically, we can see that lightning-caused fires have led to more damage in the U.S., and this is especially true in the West region which includes states like California, Oregon, and Washington.

That said, it’s worth noting that in three out of the six years from 2016–2021, human-caused wildfires led to more damage.

If you’re interested in learning more about wildfires, check out this article about The Relationship Between Climate Change and Wildfires
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Automotive

How People Get Around in America, Europe, and Asia

Examining how people get around using cars, public transit, and walking or biking, and the regional differences in usage.

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A chart with the popularity of different transportation types in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, calculated by modal share.

How People Get Around in America, Europe, and Asia

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

This chart highlights the popularity of different transportation types in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, calculated by modal share.

Data for this article and visualization is sourced from ‘The ABC of Mobility’, a research paper by Rafael Prieto-Curiel (Complexity Science Hub) and Juan P. Ospina (EAFIT University), accessed through ScienceDirect.

The authors gathered their modal share data through travel surveys, which focused on the primary mode of transportation a person employs for each weekday trip. Information from 800 cities across 61 countries was collected for this study.

North American Car Culture Contrasts with the Rest of the World

In the U.S. and Canada, people heavily rely on cars to get around, no matter the size of the city. There are a few exceptions of course, such as New York, Toronto, and smaller college towns across the United States.

Region🚗 Cars🚌 Public Transport🚶 Walking/Biking
North America*92%5%4%
Central America23%42%35%
South America29%40%31%
Northern Europe48%29%24%
Western Europe43%24%34%
Southern Europe50%24%25%
Eastern Europe35%40%25%
Southeastern Asia44%43%13%
Western Asia43%28%29%
Southern Asia22%39%39%
Eastern Asia19%46%35%
World51%26%22%

Note: *Excluding Mexico. Percentages are rounded.

As a result, North America’s share of public transport and active mobility (walking and biking) is the lowest amongst all surveyed regions by a significant amount.

On the other hand, public transport reigns supreme in South and Central America as well as Southern and Eastern Asia. It ties with cars in Southeastern Asia, and is eclipsed by cars in Western Asia.

As outlined in the paper, Europe sees more city-level differences in transport popularity.

For example, Utrecht, Netherlands prefers walking and biking. People in Paris and London like using their extensive transit systems. And in Manchester and Rome, roughly two out of three journeys are by car.

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