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Web App Reveals How Misleading Maps Really Are

If you grew up thinking Greenland was bigger than India, or that Alaska was the size of Brazil, you probably learned geography from a Mercator map. Originally created in the 16th century for sailors, the immensely popular Mercator map eventually made its way into 20th century elementary schools, where, for decades, it left all of us confused about the relative sizes of countries around the world.

Fortunately, if you’re still befuddled by the sizes of our planet’s land masses, there’s now a simple way to rectify that. WIRED reports that a new web app called The True Size Of, created by James Talmage and Damon Maneice, makes it easy to see how big different countries are and lets you compare them to their distorted representation on the Mercator projection.

The app, which was inspired by an episode of The West Wing, lets users drag the outline of any nation around on the Mercator map to see how it really compares to other countries. For instance, as you drag Greenland south on the map, its outline begins to shrink, while dragging countries closer to the equator far into the northern or southern hemisphere makes them grow.

“Every map projection introduces distortion, and each has its own set of problems,” Talmage and Maneice explain on their website, “We hope teachers will use [The True Size Of] to show their students just how big the world actually is.”

[h/t WIRED]

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Land Cover CCI, ESA
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Afternoon Map
European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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National Low Income Housing Coalition
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Live Smarter
How Many Hours You Need to Work to Pay Rent in Each State
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National Low Income Housing Coalition

According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a full-time worker in the U.S. must earn, on average, $17.14 per hour to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent [PDF]. That said, even the nation’s highest minimum wage—which, starting in 2020, is slated to be pegged at $15 in Washington D.C.—isn’t enough to meet these numbers.

This raises the question: How many hours would the average minimum wage worker in each state need to work per week to afford their one-bedroom abodes, without paying more than 30 percent of their overall income? (Spoiler: Those earning the bare federal minimum of $7.25 per hour would need to work 94.5 hours per week—the equivalent of 2.4 full time jobs—to achieve this feat.)

The NLIHC broke down their comprehensive nationwide findings in the map above:

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