This Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries
Maps are hugely important tools in our everyday life, whether it’s guiding our journeys from point A to B, or shaping our big picture perceptions about geopolitics and the environment.
For many people, the Earth as they know it is heavily informed by the Mercator projection—a tool used for nautical navigation that eventually became the world’s most widely recognized map.
Mercator’s Rise to the Top
With any map projection style, the big challenge lies in depicting a spherical object as a 2D graphic. There are various trade-offs with any map style, and those trade-offs can vary depending on how the map is meant to be used.
In 1569, the great cartographer, Gerardus Mercator, created a revolutionary new map based on a cylindrical projection. The new map was well-suited to nautical navigation since every line on the sphere is a constant course, or loxodrome.
The vast majority of us aren’t using paper maps to chart our course across the ocean anymore, so critics of the Mercator projection argue that the continued use of this style of map gives users a warped sense of the true size of countries—particularly in the case of the African continent.
Mercator’s map inadvertently also pumps up the sizes of Europe and North America. Visually speaking, Canada and Russia appear to take up approximately 25% of the Earth’s surface, when in reality they occupy a mere 5%.
As the animated GIF below—created by Reddit user, neilrkaye – demonstrates, northern nations such as Canada and Russia have been artificially “pumped up” in the minds of many people around the world.
Greenland, which appears as a massive icy landmass in Mercator projection, shrinks way down. The continent of Africa takes a much more prominent position in this new, correctly-scaled map.
This visualization also highlights how distorted neighboring countries can look in Mercator projection. In the GIF above, Scandinavian countries no longer loom imposingly over their European neighbors, and Canada deflates to a size similar to the United States.
Despite inaccurate visual features—or perhaps because of them—the Mercator projection has achieved widespread adoption around the world. This includes in the classroom, where young minds are first learning about geography and forming opinions on the relationships between countries.
Getting Reacquainted with Globes
Google, whose map app is used by approximately 150 million people per month, took the bold step of using different projections for different purposes in 2018.
The Earth is depicted as a globe at further zoom levels, sidestepping map projection issues completely and displaying the world as it actually is: round. The result is a more accurate depiction of countries and landmasses.
With 3D Globe Mode on Google Maps desktop, Greenland's projection is no longer the size of Africa.
— Google Maps (@googlemaps) August 2, 2018
At closer zoom levels, users are typically using maps for things like navigation, which the Mercator projection was designed for. The exact angles of roads and borders are preserved in this projection.
In the Right Direction
In a more globally connected world, geographic literacy is more important than ever. As people become more accustomed to equal area maps and seeing the Earth in its spherical form, misconceptions about the size of continents may become a thing of the past.
This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.
10 Ways You Can Build Leadership Communities in a Hybrid World of Work
Feeling disconnected? This infographic teaches you how to build strong leadership communities in your organization in a hybrid working world.
The world has never been more connected. Yet many of us feel more disconnected than ever before.
In particular, CEOs and managers can often feel isolated from their peers, and therefore crave a greater sense of community and belonging. This lack of social connection can have a detrimental impact on both them and their team—putting the future of their company at risk.
Leading in a Hybrid World of Work
This infographic from bestselling author Vince Molinaro dives into the ways you can build a strong community of leaders in your organization, enabling you to more successfully execute on strategy, drive growth, and deliver results.
The Critical Need for Leadership Communities
In today’s world, many leaders have been conditioned to work and lead in a way that is individualistic and hyper-competitive, which leads to problematic outcomes including:
- Limiting innovative ideas
- Causing overwhelm and stress
- Limiting diversity and a sense of inclusion
- Promoting a macho culture
- Creating heroes and zeros in organizations
This outdated model breeds a weak leadership culture. Even though leadership expectations are higher than ever, very few companies boast a strong leadership culture. In fact, just 15% of companies have the culture they need to succeed.
What does a weak leadership look like?
Weak Leadership Cultures
When leaders demonstrate the following behaviors, organizations are at risk of developing a weak leadership culture:
- They lack clarity around strategic priorities.
- They fail to inspire the people they lead.
- They tolerate ineffective and mediocre leadership.
- They demonstrate animosity for the success of other leads, teams, and departments.
- They work at cross-purposes with each other.
- They prop themselves up while downplaying the contribution of others.
- They don’t engage stakeholders.
- They regularly badmouth others and throw colleagues under the bus.
- They withhold information as a way to retain power over their peers.
- They act as bystanders when colleagues need help.
When these negative dynamics become apparent, organizations pay a significant price. According to a report from Qualtrics, 40% of managers see a decline in their mental health, while another study shows that 66% of leaders have checked out entirely.
It is clear that building a strong community of leaders has become critical as the world continues to become even more complex and uncertain. Let’s dive into some of the ways you can build a greater sense of belonging in your organization today.
The Characteristics of Leadership Communities
Here are the 10 characteristics and behaviors that promote a strong community of leaders. Does this describe your organization’s leadership culture?
|1. Have clarity on the strategic direction of the organization||Be determined to deliver on the most important strategic outcomes for the company|
|2. Create excitement about the future||Spread optimism about the company, even through adversity|
|3. Share a common aspiration to be great as leaders||Commit to their roles as leaders and help other leaders thrive|
|4. Lead with a united front and a one-company mindset||Lead in the best interest of the whole organization|
|5. Hold each other accountable by calling out unproductive leadership behavior||Demonstrate the courage to call out misaligned and unacceptable behaviors|
|6. Celebrate success and key milestones||Ignite passion by recognizing others and showing progress towards goals|
|7. Break down silos and collaborate effectively||Identify accountability gaps that weaken the leadership culture|
|8. Keep internal politics and personal agendas to a minimum||Behave in a direct and transparent manner with peers|
|9. Demonstrate resilience and resolve in the face of adversity||Turn to each other while navigating tough challenges|
|10. Support one another and have each other’s backs||Build high-trust relationships with one another|
Most leaders want to be in an environment where there is real clarity, alignment, commitment, and mutual support—it just takes one accountable leader to make it happen.
The Benefits to Creating a Strong Community of Leaders
If done right, the effects of building a strong community of leaders can be extraordinary:
- Promotes a stronger sense of belonging.
- Allows for greater knowledge sharing.
- Encourages higher levels of performance.
- Creates a culture of accountability.
- Improves employee engagement.
Moreover, research shows that employee engagement is directly linked to a company’s culture and value system. In fact, employee engagement levels can reach up to 72% when managers work well with each other.
With the working world transforming before our very eyes, it’s time to establish a new leadership contract so that CEOs and managers can lead their organizations successfully into the future.
Do you have what it takes to be a community builder? Download your Ebook to discover practical strategies you can apply today.
Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons
This map visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how our planet’s Arctic sea ice and vegetation changes throughout the year.
Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons
Why does Earth have seasons?
Many people think the seasons are dictated by Earth’s proximity to the Sun, but this isn’t the case. It’s the Earth’s tilt, not its closeness to the Sun, that influences our seasons.
This animated map by Eleanor Lutz visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how the temperature changes impact ice levels in the Arctic as well as vegetation more broadly. It also highlights the cloud cover and sunlight each hemisphere receives throughout the year, with each frame in the animation representing a month of time.
Why is Earth Tilted?
Unlike some of the planets that sit completely upright and rotate perpendicularly, Earth rotates on a 23.5-degree axis.
But why? A commonly accepted theory among the scientific community is the giant impact hypothesis. According to this theory, a celestial object called Theia collided with Earth many years ago, when the planet was still forming. This collision not only knocked Earth into its tilted position—some believe that the dust and debris from this impact ended up forming our moon.
Ever since, our planet has been rotating with a slight tilt (which itself is not fixed, as it “wobbles” in cycles), giving us our varying seasons throughout the year.
How Earth’s Tilt Influences our Seasons
As our planet orbits the Sun, it’s always leaning in the same direction. Because of its tilt, the different hemispheres receive varying amounts of sunlight at different times of the year.
In December, Earth is technically closer to the Sun than it is in June or July. However, because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun during December, that part of the planet experiences winter during that time.
The graphic above by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) visualizes Earth’s orbit throughout the year, showing when each hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight (and thus, experiences summer).
The Climate Change Impact
While our seasons have always varied, it’s worth noting that climate change has impacted our seasons, and changed how much Arctic ice we lose each summer.
In the past, millions of miles of ice remained frozen throughout the summer months. In the 1980s, there were 3.8 million square miles of ice in July—that’s roughly the same size as Australia.
Over the years, Arctic ice cover has steadily declined. In July 2020, the ice cover was only 2.8 million square miles—a million less than the amount four decades ago.
Some scientists are predicting that we could lose our summer sea ice entirely by 2035, which would have a devastating impact on the Artic’s wildlife and the indigenous people who live there.
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