Lost in the conversation about the impact of global climate change, and policies designed to prevent rising temperatures and mitigate their consequences, is an understanding of the human impact of an increase in global temperature. I propose a comprehensive storymap that shows the migration of people throughout the world as a result of climate related events. This will illustrate the myriad of ways in which climate change has already impacted human populations, as well as the potential for rising global temperatures to cause the greatest migration of people in human history.
This project was conceived as a way to illustrate the mass movement of people as a result of man-made climate change. While there are dozens of storymaps which describe the impact of rising global temperatures, none of them give the viewer a sense of mass migration, of human populations in flux. One of the challenges I will face during this summer is organizing my datasets and creating my storymap in a way that adheres to the overarching principal of portraying movement.
One of the inspirations for this project is the storymap created and published by The Slave Voyages Consortium. This timelapse storymap uses orbs to represent enslaved people who were kidnapped and transported to other places as part of the Atlantic slave trade. The orbs grow in size to represent greater numbers of enslaved people being transported. The orbs are also color coded to illustrate the different destinations of the slave ships. As the timelapse progresses, we see the orbs moving across the Atlantic, representing the forced migration of Africans to the U.S., Caribbean, Brazil, and Europe. In this way, the storymap not only represents the loss of population that took place in Africa, it also shows the dispersal of the African diaspora that took place as a result of the slave trade.
Compare that storymap to the ones published by the Esri Storymaps team. This series of maps introduced viewers to the human impact of the climate crisis, but like other digital humanities projects focused on climate change, places the planet at the center of its narrative, not humans. Maps, like the one below, which do represent human populations impacted by climate change, give the impression that these populations are stagnant. My project will contribute to digital scholarship related to climate by change by placing movement at the center of my narrative and depicting the climate diaspora that has been growing as a result of global climate change.