What’s Going On in This Graph? | Global Climate Risks - Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

What’s Going On in This Graph? | Global Climate Risks

What are the primary climate risks around the world that could be faced by 2040 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not cut drastically? Source: Four Twenty Seven and The New York Times (Four Twenty Seven and The New York Times)

April 5, 2021 | By The Learning Network

This map shows the world’s top climate risks by 2040 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not cut drastically.

After looking closely at the map, answer these four questions:

■ What do you notice?

■ What do you wonder?

■ What impact does this map have on you and your community?

■ What’s going on in this map? Write a catchy headline that captures the map’s main idea.

The questions are intended to build on one another, so try to answer them in order.


The United States has experienced what seems to be an unrelenting series of climate disasters: flooding on the Mississippi, heat stress in the Upper Midwest, drought in the Mountain states, wildfires on the West Coast and hurricanes and sea rise along the East Coast. So, too, has the rest of the world had severe climate disasters. This map is a graph (see Stat Nuggets below) that shows what we could expect if greenhouse-gas emissions are not cut drastically. Ways to accomplish these cuts include the adoption of electric cars plus President Biden’s plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit and roll back vehicle emission standards.

This map appeared in the Jan. 28, 2021, New York Times article “Everyone Has Its Own Climate Risks. What’s Yours?” The map is based on a report prepared by Four Twenty Seven, Inc., a California-based climate risk data firm that measures the physical risks of climate change. The report focuses on projections of the percentage of agricultural, people and economic activity that is exposed to high-risk climate hazards. In this map, only the primary climate risk by region is represented. This does not tell the full story. More than two-thirds of the world’s countries have two or more risks. The United States has regions with each of the six risks: flooding, heat stress, water stress, wildfires, hurricanes and typhoons, and sea level rise. Worldwide, Four Twenty Seven projects that roughly 90 percent of the world’s population — rich and poor countries alike, will be exposed to one or more threats arising from global warming.

You may want to think critically about these questions:

■ Estimating from the graph, which risk (flooding, heat stress, water stress, wildfires, hurricanes and typhoons, or sea level rise) covers the greatest land area? Alternatively, based on what you know about where the world’s population lives, which risk affects the most people?

■ A 2020 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has found that while 61 percent of Americans say climate change poses a risk in the United States, only 43 percent think it will affect them personally. Why do you think that people tend to believe climate change is something “far away in time and space?” What do you recommend to shift this mindset?

■ Based on global climate risks, where is the safest place to live? Of these places, where would you prefer to live?



Map as a Graph

A map can be a graph when the map shows data or statistics with their geographic relationship.

In the map shown here, the highest ranked climate risk for each region is the statistic shown on the map. The color of the region indicates which climate risk — flooding, heat stress, water stress, wildfires, hurricanes and typhoons, or sea level rise — is ranked first for the region. The region is marked with the corresponding color for the greatest risk. Other risks are not noted. For example, the primary risk in California is wildfires. These are caused, in part, by water and heat stress, which is not noted on the map. Globally, wildfire risk regions are usually adjacent to water stress and heat stress areas.

(For more information on this graph, please visit nytimes.com/2021/03/25/learning/whats-going-on-in-this-graph-global-climate-risks.html.)

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