Weekly Links: Westerners Love Their Public Land, An App to Track Tsunamis, and Ride-Sharing is Increasing Traffic Congestion

Westerners Really Love Their Public Land

Grand CanyonFrom Colorado College. A recent poll conducted by Colorado College shows that residents in the Mountain West states overwhelmingly support public land. Since most of our public land (national parks, monuments, preserves) are located in western states, it’s important to understand how people living in those states view public land. Vast support is seen across the political spectrum with those in more conservative states, such as Idaho showing similar levels of support as those in more liberal states like New Mexico.

Overall, 76% percent of residents in the Mountain West states identify as conservationists and only 26% support opening public lands to private companies for the purpose of mining and extracting other natural resources. Perhaps DC should take note since the current policy of reducing the size of national monuments and opening land for mining is premised on the idea that residents in those areas want less public land.


Want to Track a Tsunami? There’s An App For That. 

From The Economist. In additional to creating waves in the ocean, tsunamis also produce waves in the atmosphere. The U.S.’s Global Positioning Satellite system and similar systems from other countries, known collectively as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), is capable of tracking such atmospheric waves. The signal between satellites and GNSS receivers is impeded by atmospheric tsunami waves, so a network of GNSS receivers is potentially capable of tracking tsunamis. Luckily, most cell phones have GNSS receivers so the widespread use of an app could help detect tsunamis and provide an early warning system.



Uber, Lyft Are Creating More Congested Cities

Atlanta TrafficFrom The Associated Press. Despite claims from ride-sharing companies, several studies have shown that Uber and Lyft create more traffic and congestion in large cities. This is mainly due to people choosing ride-sharing services over public transit, walking, and biking – three forms of transportation that take cars off the street. In additional to putting more cars on the street (and presumably more pollutants in the air) while transporting passengers, ride-sharing vehicles congest streets when they are waiting for new customers.


Mapping the Regional Economic Impacts of Climate Change

From Governing. Well it’s not good for us in the southeast, though this data isn’t too surprising. The United States General Accounting Office produced a map showing the economic impacts of climate change and the southeast is in store for more coastal infrastructure damage and heat-related deaths. While some regions may experience positive impacts, there are far more potentially negative impacts across the rest of the country.

GAO Climate Map

 Correctly Mapping Elections 

From Vox, xkcd, and Alan Cole‘s Twitter. This map from xkcd of the 2016 US Presidential Election results circulated around the internet several months ago. It’s a good example of how maps can inadvertently (or often purposefully) provide misleading information. Traditional election result maps that color-code counties based on election results misrepresents where people actually live in this country.

Most large states in the Midwest are large, rural, and vote Republican, so they appear red on election result maps. This makes it appear that most of the country voted for the Republican in 2016 when in reality it was a close election with more people voting for the Democrat. Case in point, there are about as many Democratic voters in Los Angeles County as Republican voters in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, and Wyoming combined. Some maps that attempt to correct this by representing the vote by population can under-represent Republican-voters in some states with large populations. Economist Alan Cole believes the xkcd map is the best attempt he’s seen at representing election results by population.

Traditional county-based map (left) and xkcd map (right)



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