Explore the Complexities of Climate Change with These Interactive Maps

Understanding the ins and outs requires some strong visualizations

Scientists overwhelmingly agree that the Earth is warming, but communicating what that means is tricky. The issues surrounding climate are complex: From rising seas and ocean acidification to greenhouse gas emissions to deforestation, the causes and effects are large and tough to grasp. So to help you understand the many effects, as world leaders meet to discuss climate change, mapping technology company Esri released the "Atlas for a Changing Planet."

Esri is a large supplier of Geographical Information System (GIS) software, including ArcGIS, giving them the tools to tease through the complexities and implications of climate change. 

This new online interactive lets users explore how the Earth’s systems work, how human activities shape the planet and what countries are doing to combat climate change. Zoom-able, clickable maps explore patterns of vegetation and agriculture, the density of carbon stored in planets, the booming urban human population, sea level rise predictions, potential global temperature changes and more.  

"Understanding how the earth's systems interact and transform is an essential first step in measuring the threat of climate change and making informed decisions to reduce it," says Esri’s president, Jack Dangermond, in a press release

At the same time, Climate Central has released a report on how well the U.S. is prepared to handle the effects of a changing climate. Each of the 50 states gets a report card based on how well they are prepared to face extreme heat, drought, wildfires and flooding forecast for the future. A team of scientists, journalists and other experts developed these environmental grades.

Ben Schiller notes for Fast Company that based on these ladder maps, Florida appears especially ill-equipped to deal with the climate threats. In particular, the state requires a lot more work to prepare for coastal flooding.

According to the Climate Central report, the Sunshine State’s overall grade was an F, along with similarly ill-prepared Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, Arkansas and Texas.

In contrast, California, Pennsylvania, New York,  and Massachusetts earned an A for their efforts. Yet every state has room for improvement. Both interactives make it clear that the scope of climate change’s effects is as worrisome as it is challenging to understand.

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