Most maps are great. They help us better understand the world. But did you know that a map can be terrifying? You see, maps aren’t just for planning your next road trip. Some scary maps reveal alarming truths about the world we live in. Don’t believe me? Here are 10 scary maps that will give you the chills.
10. Light Pollution
First up, here’s a map detailing the spread of light pollution in the United States from the late 1950s all the way to 1997 — including what the US might look like by 2025.
Now, you might be thinking how great it is that more and more people have constant access to light. However, light brings negative effects as well. For one, light pollution robs urban dwellers of the opportunity to clearly see the stars at night. Similar to how sunlight makes the sky glow blue, artificial light scatters in the atmosphere creating a dull glow that obscures stars and celestial objects. As you can see on this map, Eastern America and Europe suffer from a significant amount of light pollution; the red spots are up to 27 times the natural brightness level.
This means that not only is the Milky Way no longer visible, you’ll also see fewer than 100 stars at night.
But not being able to see stars is a minor issue. There are far more quantifiable dangerous consequences. For one, light pollution has been linked to human health problems such as sleep disorders and even breast cancer due to its ability to disrupt our circadian rhythm.
Light pollution also increases air pollution. One study of Los Angeles showed light pollution slowed down smog-destroying chemical reactions that help clean the air during the night by 7%. This means there’s a 5% jump in ozone pollution the following day because of it. If that wasn’t bad enough, it leads to the disorientation of birds going through nocturnal migration, leading to 4-5 million bird deaths per year as a result. Take note, and turn your lights off at night!
9. Clinical Depression
Your mental well-being is incredibly important. Here’s a scary map showing the prevalence of depression in each country.
It reveals an alarming truth: There is no country in the world that is free of it. Worse, regions such as the Middle East and North Africa suffer the most, with more than five percent of their population affected by depression. And while researchers cannot be certain of the factors, they think that conflict, malaria and HIV epidemics in these regions should be taken into consideration.
Even more frightening, is the fact that the map is even worse in reality than what’s shown. The seemingly low rates in low-income countries like Iraq ironically tell a dark tale as they’re more indicative of the country’s poor public health services; it focuses more on physical health conditions than mental ones. And remember, this is just a map of diagnosed clinical depression. Many more people are possibly having it but are afraid to seek professional help because of the stigma attached to depression.
8. China’s Investments in Africa
Is there something wrong with a country pouring billions of dollars into other countries? Well, in the case of China’s rising investments in Africa, there is. This is a map from The Heritage Foundation detailing the multiple investments China made in 2013.
The country’s pretty much spending everywhere. But look at Sub-Saharan Africa. Back in 2005, there was literally no major Chinese investment in Africa whatsoever. But by 2013, China pledged nearly $120 billion. And within the next five years up to 2018, the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation saw China investing an additional $130.21 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
So the question is: Why does China willingly provide so much money to this region? Simple: To take what they can. China needs to feed its manufacturing sector, so more than 10,000 Chinese firms are in Africa to take advantage of the region’s natural resources.
Back in 2007, Zambian politician Michael Sata noted that what’s happening was worse than what the European colonists did. That’s because China supposedly has no regard for the welfare of the local people.
Some analysts are calling China’s investments ‘debt-trap diplomacy ‘. It is where the nations that fail to pay their interest are eventually forced to give up national assets. In other words, the investment map serves as a warning for countries to be wary of big-time financial assistance.
7. Cyber Attacks
This is the FireEye Cyber Threat Map.
It displays real-time cyber attacks around the world based on a subset of real attack data. Every second, there’s an attack from one country to another; the number of daily attacks easily amounting to more than a hundred thousand. According to Accenture, the average cyberattack costs a company $2.4 million in damages. And the annual cost of damages related to cybercrime projected to hit $6 trillion by 2021 .
This map by digitalattackmap.com goes into more detail.
It shows which countries are attacking, and being attacked, and in what way. India and Russia are the largest attackers, whilst the United States is attacked the most, especially from Japan. Japan also seems to be a huge receiver of attacks from the United States.
Most of the are orange, representing Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks. Simply put, a DDoS attack uses a ton of traffic to overwhelm websites and online services, preventing you from logging in to your company website or accessing your email.
If you don’t think this is a scary map, then you haven’t considered how damaging and concerning an attack really is. The targets of these DDoS attacks range from news websites to banks. It was the case back in 2012, when six US banks including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase suffered from DDoS attacks. It left millions of people unable to access online banking services.
NukeMap is a website made by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein that allows you to see the potential damage of a nuclear bomb in a selected location. For example, this Nukemap is focused on London, England as the target.
You can then enter the nuclear yield, choose where it detonates and whether you want to see the number of casualties or not. You might be feeling safe just looking at a simulation, but do remember that as of 2018, there are 15,000 nuclear warheads around the world.
Worse, five nations, Russia, United States, China, Britain, and France already have missiles that can reach any location in the world. Even now, Russia intends to replace all their SS-25 missiles with the SS-25 Topol missile, which has a range of 11,000 kilometers.
Note that’s over twice the range required to hit the US – the shortest distance from Russia to Los Angeles is just under 5,000 kilometers, so a SS-25 missile hit the city, more than 360,000 people would perish.
5. Yellowstone Volcano Eruption
Yellowstone National Park is home to a supervolcano known as the Yellowstone Caldera.
It last erupted about 630,000 years ago. And since the gap between the three super-eruptions is around 650,000 to 800,000 years, it’s not absurd to think that its preparing for its fourth eruption.
According to research by scientists from the United States Geological Survey, a Yellowstone eruption today would cover cities within 500 kilometers with up to more than a meter of volcanic ash and lead to 90,000 immediate casualties, as shown by this scary map.
Water lines and sewers won’t function as all the ash would block their pathways, causing sanitation crises around the country. Electronic communication will also be affected as ash particles would block cooling fans while wet ash would cause short circuits. Work and personal life will be disrupted, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency predicting a staggering $3 trillion in direct economic damages. Worse, the super eruption could lead to global cooling, affecting crops and increasing the risk of widespread famine around the world.
4. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
This map from VaccinesWork.org is extremely concerning.
It shows which countries are being affected by diseases that are easily preventable with the use of vaccines. Let me provide a bit of context: Back in 2008, measles was the only remaining vaccine-preventable disease that numbered in the thousands — it seemed as if humanity was about to eradicate it once and for all.
Surprisingly, since then, things have actually gotten worse. Just take a look at 2013:
Rubella and whooping cough have started to become big issues. But fast-forward to 2018, and the scene is even more concerning. Asia drastically reduced its cases, but Africa suffered more than 160,000 new cases. And it seems like diseases are spreading once again, with South America and Australia joining the list. Both Europe and the US have the resources to vaccinate everyone, yet it appears they’re failing to do so.
So why is it so scary? Because it represents the bad in people: fear-mongering, ignorance, and misinformation.
The rise of easily preventable diseases in well-off regions just goes to show that wealth or power without knowledge is dangerous. In the first half of 2018 alone, more than 41,000 people were infected with measles in Europe, up from just over 23,000 in 2017 and over 5,000 in 2016. Anti-vaccine groups based on misinformation are on the rise in both America and Europe. It’s the children who will suffer for their misdeeds.
3. Plastic in the Ocean
People love how convenient plastic is — but plastic doesn’t just disappear once you’re done with your cup of coffee. This map of the “Sailing Seas of Plastic,” by data firm Dumpark provides a visual representation of just how much plastic is floating around.
The ‘white paint’ you see is actually made up of tiny white dots — each representing 20 kilograms of plastic. And people have no one to blame but themselves with every ocean containing billions to trillions of pieces of plastic. All in all, its estimated the ocean contains 268 million kilograms of plastic. And microplastics, which make up 92 percent of all plastic in the ocean, are small enough for fish and turtles alike to feed on — affecting their digestive system and overall growth, with some dying of starvation.
And remember: scientists have yet to uncover the total effects on human health of eating fish that have ingested micro and even nano-plastics. Let’s just hope we don’t grow fins.
2. If the Global Temperature Rises by Four Degrees Celsius
Climate change is an important issue, but not everyone truly understands what’s at stake. This map shows what would happen if the world gets hotter by four degrees.
That is the rise expected by 2060 without urgent and serious action. The green areas would be okay as land would be fertile, but parts in yellow would be uninhabitable desert, and the brown parts would be uninhabitable due to floods, drought or extreme weather. Lots of things will change as temperatures rise, most notably, sea levels, as ice melts. For one, countries like Bangladesh and Micronesia will be in trouble.
The same goes for the Netherlands.
And while Western Antarctica will become habitable, it’s uncertain how up to 143 million people from Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America will find a new home in other regions as they become displaced by climate change by 2050.
The world can slow down the rise in temperature if CO2 emissions are reduced, but even with the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement meant to unite nations in solving climate change, the total amount of CO2 emissions have actually increased by 19 percent since 2005, with China being responsible for nearly a third.
It’s also worrying that efforts to shift to renewable energy are offset by the increase in CO2 emissions of developing nations such as India, Brazil, and Mexico, highlighting the complexity of the climate change dilemma as countries try to balance sustainability and economic growth.
1. Corruption Perceptions Index
Possibly the scariest map is this one.
It represents what’s wrong with humanity. No matter how rich or powerful a country is, its people cannot thrive if its leaders are hungry for power and money. The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2017 shows that more than two-thirds of the 180 countries and territories ranked have a score of less than 50, with 43 being the average score. This means that the average government is more corrupt than clean, with public money being kept in the pockets of the powerful few.
Worse, corrupt governments are prone to silencing their critics through whatever means possible, including murder. So while it’s nice to see the countries with relatively clean public sectors, most of the world, especially Africa, South America, and Asia, have to deal with corrupt governments that hinder progress — right where it’s most needed.
All in all, I hope you learned how valuable maps are in understanding the world. There are so many challenges facing humanity. These maps give everyone an easy way to visualize them and plan accordingly. Which maps terrified you the most? Let me know in the comments section down below — Thanks for reading!