If You Think You Have a Sense of the Oil Spill's Scale

Try this utility from Paul Rademacher's site, which overlays a scaled representation of the Deepwater Horizon spill onto a Google Earth view of any city you choose. (May require a Google Earth web plug-in, available at the site linked above. I've used that plugin for a long time with no ill effects.) For instance, here is how the spill would look as applied to Washington DC. Click for larger.

DCOilSpill.png


And, just quickly a few other cities I'm familiar with. First the SF Bay Area, then Tokyo, then Duluth MN. You can choose any place.

SFSpill.png

ToykoOil.png

DuluthSpill.png

For later discussion: the surprising power that different visual renderings of reality can have, in changing our ability to understand, or at least begin to envision, what is going on around us. (This is not just a brush-off: I actually have a little discourse pending on the topic.) In this case, Rademacher, who works for Google Earth, points out on his site that it is very hard to imagine the scale of things we see in the open ocean. Suddenly it becomes much more comprehensible and dramatic when mapped this way.

The only possible benefit of this catastrophe could be forcing or allowing people to understand differently the scale of environmental damage now being done, and thereby catalyzing some new form of action. Yes, I'm struggling to look for a benefit. For the moment, thanks to Rademacher for this new view of reality, and to his colleague Michael Jones for the lead.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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