Our Changing Globe

Everyone remembers the globe in the first real classroom we entered as children. The blue and white plastic globe brimming with information and importance signaled that we were in a serious place. At some point after twirling it and seeing where we lived we all found our place at the back of the room and it just faded into the background. The globe stood as well as for seriousness a stable view of where we all stood. I grew up in the UK and although we were a small island we were perched high up in the northern hemisphere in a commanding position to as the anthem goes “rule” the waves. It was all so natural that despite lack of size we had our place—confirmed by the fact that the world told its time according to the Greenwich meridan. Roll the calendar forward a few decades and we now in the 21st century have very different ways of looking at the world. I was reminded of this fact by taking look at an excellent website—WorldMapper—

As Worldmapper states “The distribution of lights from the brightest cities where all the global connections merge dominates the wealthier parts of the world. In addition, areas such as the east of the United States show a complex cobweb of all other elements displayed in the map. The African continent is characterised by having far fewer communication lines and even far less railways than many other parts of the world. The human impact affects the entire planet, but for a large part of the world’s population the planet is far less a global village than a one way street that channels their resources such as oil or gas to the spaces that are the real worlds of the Anthropocene.

Place this against the map of he most recent Happy Planet Index 2016 report from the perspective of people. The gridded population cartogram, showing world resized according to the number of people living in each area, combined with the national HPI score.
“GDP growth on its own does not mean a better life for everyone, particularly in countries that are already wealthy. It does not reflect inequalities in material conditions between people in a country.” This explains, why consumption patterns are seen as more important for well-being than production. It also acknowledges that inequalities in well-being and life expectancy are important factors in the overall happiness of the population in a country.

Our world is growing more unequal every day. As the Covid epidemic reveals in countries with big wealth gaps, the rich are paying for limited medical care as the pandemic causes public hospitals to fill up and people left to die on the streets. The Washington Post today reported the grim news from Latin America,

“Doctors here say the need for patients to source their care privately, or to purchase their own medical supplies for use in bare-bones public hospitals, is leaving untold numbers of poor Venezuelans to die during the pandemic. But the Fuenteses, aided financially by a family member now living in the United States, were able to buy oxygen tanks, IV drips, saline solution, needles and other costly supplies, then hire nurses to provide 24-hour care at home…If you don’t have money, you don’t have a chance,” said Belinda Fuentes, a 44-year old fitness instructor in New York who emptied her life savings to help her parents and older brother.”

Covid19 is showing us the world we live in but want like the globe that faded back into the wallpaper when we first entered our first “big kids” classroom—one that we don’t like to acknowledge. It is the world of the Hunger Games where those in District 4 are given few options and daily dosed with massive amounts of distraction.