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Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are) | Danny Dorling | TEDxExeter

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    I'd like you to imagine the world anew.
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    I'd like to share some ideas with you,
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    that I first shared with my friend
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    Carl Lee, and which we've got
    for many other people
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    about how you can look at the world
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    in very different ways.
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    I'd like to show you some maps,
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    which have been drawn by Ben Hennig,
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    of the planet in a way
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    that most of you will never
    have seen the planet depicted before.
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    I want to talk about
    how everything is connected
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    to everything else.
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    The phrase is normally attributed
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    to Lenin,
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    but it was used recently
    by my friend George Monbiot,
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    when he was trying to explain
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    the importance of whale poo
    in the oceans.
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    If we kill the whales,
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    we don't get the whale poo
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    if the oceans don't get the whale poo
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    things go badly wrong.
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    Here's an image
    that you're very familiar with.
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    I'm old enough that I was actually born
    before we saw this image.
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    Apparently some of my first words
    were "moona, moona,"
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    but I think that's my mom
    having a particular fantasy
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    about what her baby boy could see
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    on the flickering
    black and white TV screen.
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    It's only been a few centuries
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    since we've actually, most of us,
    thought of our planet as spherical.
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    When we first saw
    these images in the 1960s,
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    the world was changing
    at an incredible rate.
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    In my own little discipline
    of human geography,
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    a cartographer called Waldo Tobler
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    was drawing new maps of the planet,
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    and these maps have now spread,
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    and I'm going to show you one of them now.
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    This map is a map of the world,
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    but it's a map which looks to you
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    a little bit strange.
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    It's a map in which we stretched places,
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    so that those areas which contain
    many people are drawn larger,
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    and those areas,
    like the Sahara and the Himalayas,
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    in which there are few people,
    have been shrunk away.
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    Everybody on the planet
    is given an equal amount of space.
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    The cities are shown shining bright.
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    The lines are showing you
    submarine cables and trade routes.
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    And there's one particular line
    that goes from the Chinese port of Dalian
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    through past Singapore,
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    through the Suez Canal,
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    through the Mediterranean
    and round to Rotterdam.
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    And it's showing you the route
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    of what was the world's
    largest ship just a year ago,
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    a ship which was taking
    so many containers of goods
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    that when they were unloaded,
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    if the lorries had all gone in convoy,
    they would have been 100 kilometers long.
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    This is how our world is now connected.
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    This is the quantity of stuff
    we are now moving around the world,
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    just on one ship, on one voyage,
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    in five weeks.
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    We've lived in cities
    for a very long time,
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    but most of us didn't live in cities.
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    This is Çatalhöyük,
    one of the world's first cities.
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    At its peak 9,000 years ago,
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    people had to walk over the roofs
    of others' houses to get to their home.
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    If you look carefully
    at the map of the city,
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    you'll see it has no streets,
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    because streets are something we invented.
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    The world changes.
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    It changes by trial and error.
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    We work out slowly and gradually
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    how to live in better ways.
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    And the world has changed
    incredibly quickly most recently.
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    It's only within the last six,
    seven, or eight generations
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    that we have actually realized
    that we are a species.
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    It's only within the last few decades
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    that a map like this could be drawn.
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    Again, the underlying map
    is the map of world population,
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    but over it, you're seeing arrows
    showing how we spread out of Africa
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    with dates showing you
    where we think we arrived
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    at particular times.
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    I have to redraw this map
    every few months,
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    because somebody makes a discovery
    that a particular date was wrong.
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    We are learning about ourselves
    at an incredible speed.
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    And we're changing.
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    A lot of change is gradual.
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    It's accretion.
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    We don't notice the change
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    because we only have short lives,
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    70, 80, if you're lucky 90 years.
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    This graph is showing you
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    the annual rate of population
    growth in the world.
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    It was very low until around about 1850,
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    and then the rate of population growth
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    began to rise
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    so that around the time I was born,
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    when we first saw those images
    from the moon of our planet,
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    our global population
    was growing at two percent a year.
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    If it had carried on growing
    at two percent a year
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    for just another couple of centuries,
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    the entire planet would be covered
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    with a seething mass of human bodies
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    all touching each other.
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    And people were scared.
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    They were scared of population growth
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    and what they called
    "the population bomb" in 1968.
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    But then, if you look
    at the end of the graph,
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    the growth began to slow.
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    The decade...
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    The '70s, the '80s,
    the '90s, the noughties,
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    and in this decade, even faster...
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    Our population growth is slowing.
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    Our planet is stabilizing.
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    We are heading towards nine,
    10, or 11 billion people
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    by the end of the century.
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    Within that change, you can see tumult.
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    You can see the Second World War.
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    You can see the pandemic
    in 1918 from influenza.
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    You can see the great Chinese famine.
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    These are the events
    we tend to concentrate on.
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    We tend to concentrate
    on the terrible events in the news.
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    We don't tend to concentrate
    on the gradual change
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    and the good news stories.
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    We worry about people.
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    We worry about how many people there are.
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    We worry about how you can
    get away from people.
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    But this is the map of the world
    changed again to make area large,
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    the further away
    people are from each area.
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    So if you want to know
    where to go to get away from everybody,
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    here's the best places to go.
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    And every year, these areas get bigger,
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    because every year,
    we are coming off the land globally.
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    We are moving into the cities.
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    We are packing in more densely.
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    There are wolves again in Europe,
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    and the wolves are moving west
    across the continent.
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    Our world is changing.
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    You have worries.
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    This is a map showing
    where the water falls on our planet.
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    We now know that.
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    And you can look at where Çatalhöyük was,
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    where three continents meet,
    Africa, Asia, and Europe,
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    and you can see there are
    a large number of people living there
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    in areas with very little water.
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    And you can see areas in which
    there is a great deal of rainfall as well.
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    And we can get a bit more sophisticated.
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    Instead of making
    the map be shaped by people,
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    we can shape the map by water,
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    and then we can change it every month
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    to show the amount of water
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    falling on every small part of the globe.
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    And you see the monsoons
    moving around the planet,
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    and the planet almost appears
    to have a heartbeat.
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    And all of this only became possible
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    within my lifetime
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    to see this is where we are living.
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    We have enough water.
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    This is a map of where
    we grow our food in the world.
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    This is the areas that we will rely on
    most for rice and maize and corn.
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    People worry that there won't
    be enough food, but we know,
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    if we just ate less meat
    and fed less of the crops to animals,
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    there is enough food for everybody
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    as long as we think of ourselves
    as one group of people.
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    And we also know
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    about what we do
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    so terribly badly nowadays.
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    You will have seen this map
    of the world before.
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    This is the map
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    produced by taking satellite images,
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    if you remember those satellites
    around the planet
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    in the very first slide I showed,
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    and producing an image
    of what the Earth looks like at night.
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    When you normally see that map,
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    on a normal map, the kind of map
    that most of you will be used to,
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    you think you are seeing
    a map of where people live.
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    Where the lights are shining up
    is where people live.
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    But here, on this image of the world,
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    remember we've stretched the map again.
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    Everywhere has the same density
    of people on this map.
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    If an area doesn't have people,
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    we've shrunk it away
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    to make it disappear.
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    So we're showing everybody
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    with equal prominence.
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    Now, the lights no longer show you
    where people are,
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    because people are everywhere.
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    Now the lights on the map,
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    the lights in London,
    the lights in Cairo, the lights in Tokyo,
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    the lights on the Eastern Seaboard
    of the United States,
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    the lights show you where people live
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    who are so profligate with energy
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    that they can afford
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    to spend money
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    powering lights to shine up into the sky,
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    so satellites can draw an image like this.
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    And the areas that are dark on the map
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    are either areas where people
    do not have access to that much energy,
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    or areas where people do,
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    but they have learned to stop
    shining the light up into the sky.
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    And if I could show you this map
    animated over time,
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    you would see that Tokyo
    has actually become darker,
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    because ever since the tsunami in Japan,
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    Japan has had to rely
    on a quarter less electricity
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    because it turned
    the nuclear power stations off.
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    And the world didn't end.
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    You just shone less light up.
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    There are a huge number
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    of good news stories in the world.
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    Infant mortality is falling
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    and has been falling
    at an incredible rate.
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    A few years ago,
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    the number of babies dying
    in their first year of life in the world
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    fell by five percent in just one year.
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    More children are going to school
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    and learning to read and write
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    and getting connected to the Internet
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    and going on to go to university
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    than ever before at an incredible rate,
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    and the highest number of young people
    going to university in the world
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    are women, not men.
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    I can give you good news story
    after good news story
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    about what is getting
    better in the planet,
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    but we tend to concentrate
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    on the bad news that is immediate.
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    Rebecca Solnit, I think,
    put it brilliantly,
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    when she explained: "The accretion
    of incremental, imperceptible changes
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    which can constitute progress
    and which render our era
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    dramatically different from the past"...
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    The past was much more stable...
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    "a contrast obscured by the undramatic
    nature of gradual transformation,
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    punctuated by occasional tumult."
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    Occasionally, terrible things happen.
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    You are shown those terrible things
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    on the news every night of the week.
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    You are not told about
    the population slowing down.
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    You are not told about the world
    becoming more connected.
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    You are not told about the incredible
    improvements in understanding.
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    You are not told about
    how we are learning to begin
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    to waste less and consume less.
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    This is my last map.
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    On this map, we have taken the seas
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    and the oceans out.
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    Now you are just looking
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    at about 7.4 billion people
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    with the map drawn
    in proportion to those people.
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    You're looking at over a billion in China,
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    and you can see the largest
    city in the world in China,
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    but you do not know its name.
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    You can see that India
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    is in the center of this world.
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    You can see that Europe is on the edge.
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    And we in Exeter today
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    are on the far edge of the planet.
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    We are on a tiny scrap of rock
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    off Europe
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    which contains less than one percent
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    of the world's adults,
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    and less than half a percent
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    of the world's children.
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    We are living in a stabilizing world,
    an urbanizing world,
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    an aging world,
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    a connecting world.
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    There are many, many things
    to be frightened about,
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    but there is no need for us
    to fear each other as much as we do,
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    and we need to see
    that we are now living in a new world.
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    Thank you very much.
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    (Applause)
Title:
Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are) | Danny Dorling | TEDxExeter
Description:

What does the world look like when you map it using data? Social geographer Danny Dorling invites us to see the world anew, with his captivating and insightful maps that show Earth as it truly is — a connected, ever-changing and fascinating place in which we all belong. You'll never look at a map the same way again.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDxTalks
Duration:
14:46

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