Fun with Maps 85&86

It’s Friday and I’m definitely looking forward to the weekend. Beth and I are not really doing anything and that’s the part I am most excited about. It’s been a very long week at work and I’m feeling a bit of wanderlust as a result. Our two week road trip to the West Coast in September was wonderful but now I’m dreaming of our next big adventure. I’d really love to explore this awesome planet but I’ve only left North America one time. I would be cool to visit London or Paris again or fly to Florence, Tokyo, or Sydney. With the Summer Olympics coming up this Summer Rio de Janeiro would be an excellent destination as well. I have already announced I won’t be taking any trips this year but that doesn’t stop everyone else from traveling for work or pleasure. Map 85 displays the world’s busiest airports (2015).


Map 85

While this map doesn’t tell us where people ultimately travel, it does show the airports that handle the most traffic. I know the text on the map is a little hard to read so here are some closer views:

Of the top ten busiest airports in the world, four are in the United States, two are in Europe, one is in the Middle East, and three are in Asia. They are relatively spread out and in cities with large populations. Dubai is an up and coming population center and an opulent oasis in the desert, perhaps why it made the list. There aren’t a lot of other places in the region where planes can and would want to stop. Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Beijing are three of the largest cities in Asia. Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle are in two of the largest cities in Europe and I’ve personally travelled through both airports (I sat so long on the plane to London that my leg cramped up walking from the plane to customs).

In the United States, however, the largest cities are not necessarily represented. The largest city in the country is Los Angeles (check) but number two, New York City, isn’t in the top ten. There are a couple large airports serving the New York Metropolitan area which could explain this but John F. Kennedy is just outside the top ten at 15th. Chicago is the third largest city (check) but fourth, Houston, also misses the list. Dallas has the ninth largest population in the country and is on the busiest airport list despite being a smaller city than nearby Houston.

Atlanta is the exception that proves the rule of large cities and busy airports. It’s the 39th largest city in the United States but somehow has the busiest airport on Earth. How is that possible? Well, dear reader, Atlanta is a major airline hub and is the most connected airport in the world according to Wikipedia. Many airlines use Atlanta as a stopping point on longer (non-non-stop) routes. I’m exaggerating but it’s not impossible to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo with a four hour layover in Hartsfield-Jackson. My home town of Minneapolis is no longer the main terminal for Northwest Airlines but is still a regional hub. That’s due to the fact that Northwest merged with Delta in 2010 to become the largest airline on the planet. Where was/is Delta’s primary hub? Atlanta, Georgia of course, pay attention!

Map 86 is about lead exposure. Downer.

Map 86

Map 86: Lead Exposure Risk by County


Wow! That’s a lot of red! Counties in red on the map above have the highest lead exposure risk, 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. This map really requires interaction so I recommend clicking this link to find your own county and explore which areas of the country have the lowest and highest risk.

My own Hennepin County in Minnesota, home of Minneapolis and its Western Suburbs, has a full spectrum of lead ratings in different parts of the area. Our neighborhood specifically has a rating of 3, in the light blue. That’s good news for me but what about you? I want to hear from you good folks out there on the internet. How’s your water. Does it taste like lead? How dangerous is your public water supply. Fill me in by leaving a comment below.



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