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Visualizing America’s Energy Use, in One Giant Chart

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In 1954, the United States was only fully reliant on foreign sources for eight mineral commodities.

Fast forward 60+ years, and the country now depends on foreign sources for 20 such materials, including ones essential for military and battery technologies.

This puts the U.S. in a precarious position, depending largely on China and other foreign nations for the crucial materials such as lithium, cobalt, and rare earth metals that can help build and secure a more sustainable future.

America’s Energy Dependence

Today’s visualization comes from Standard Lithium, and it outlines China’s dominance of the critical minerals needed for the new energy era.

Which imported minerals create the most risk for U.S. supply chains and national security?

Supply Chains and National Security

Natural Resources and Development

Gaining access to natural resources can influence a nation’s ability to grow and defend itself. China’s growth strategy took this into account, and the country sourced massive amounts of raw materials to position the country as the number one producer and consumer of commodities.

By the end of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, China’s mining industry was largely in ruins. After the war, vast amounts of raw materials were required to rebuild the country.

In the late 1970s, the industry was boosted by China’s “reform and opening” policies, and since then, China’s mining outputs have increased enormously. China’s mining and material industries fueled the rapid growth of China from the 1980s onwards.

Supply Chain Dominance

A large number of Chinese mining companies also invest in overseas mining projects. China’s “going out” strategy encourages companies to move into overseas markets.

They have several reasons to mine beyond its shores: to secure mineral resources that are scarce in China, to gain access to global markets and mineral supply chains, and to minimize domestic overproduction of some mineral commodities.

This has led to China to become the leading producer of many of the world’s most important metals while also securing a commanding position in key supply chains.

As an example of this, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rare earth materials. The country produces approximately 94% of the rare earth oxides and around 100% of the rare earth metals consumed globally, with 50% going to domestic consumption.

U.S.-China Trade Tensions

The U.S. drafted a list of 35 critical minerals in 2018 that are vital to national security, and according to the USGS, the country sources at least 31 of the materials chiefly through imports.

China is the third largest supplier of natural resources to the U.S. behind Canada and Mexico.

Rank Country U.S. Minerals Imports By Country ($US, 2018)
#1 Canada $1,814,404,440
#2 Mexico $724,542,960
#3 China $678,217,450
#4 Brazil $619,890,570
#5 South Africa $568,183,800

This dependence on China poses a risk. In 2010, a territorial dispute between China and Japan threatened to disrupt the supply of the rare earth elements. Today, a similar threat still looms over trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

China’s scale of influence over critical minerals means that it could artificially limit supply and move prices in the global clean energy trade, in the same way that OPEC does with oil. This would leave nations that import their mineral needs in an expensive and potentially limiting spot.

Moon Shot: Building Domestic Supply and Production

Every supply chain starts with raw materials. The U.S. had the world’s largest lithium industry until the 1990s—but this is no longer the case, even though the resources are still there.

The U.S. holds 12% of the world’s identified lithium resources, but only produces 2% of global production from a single mine in Nevada.

There are a handful of companies looking to develop the U.S. lithium reserves, but there is potential for so much more. Less than 18% of the U.S. land mass is geologically mapped at a scale suited to identifying new mineral deposits.

The United States has the resources, it is just a question of motivation. Developing domestic resources can reduce its foreign dependence, and enable it to secure the new energy era.

In the clean energy economy of the future, critical minerals will be just as essential—and geopolitical—as oil is today.

—Scientific American

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Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-americas-energy-use-in-one-giant-chart/

Visual Capitalist

Mapped: The Geology of the Moon in Astronomical Detail

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If you were to land on the Moon, where would you go?

Today’s post is the incredible Unified Geologic Map of the Moon from the USGS, which combines information from six regional lunar maps created during the Apollo era, as well as recent spacecraft observations.

Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky

Since the beginning of humankind, the Moon has captured our collective imagination. It is one of the few celestial bodies visible to the naked eye from Earth. Over time different cultures wrapped the Moon in their own myths. To the Egyptians it was the god Thoth, to the Greeks, the goddess Artemis, and to the Hindus, Chandra.

Thoth was portrayed as a wise counselor who solved disputes and invented writing and the 365-day calendar. A headdress with a lunar disk sitting atop a crescent moon denoted Thoth as the arbiter of times and seasons.

Artemis was the twin sister of the sun god Apollo, and in Greek mythology she presided over childbirth, fertility, and the hunt. Just like her brother that illuminated the day, she was referred to as the torch bringer during the dark of night.

Chandra means the “Moon” in Sanskrit, Hindi, and other Indian languages. According to one Hindu legend, Ganesha—an elephant-headed deity—was returning home on a full moon night after a feast. On the journey, a snake crossed his pathway, frightening his horse. An overstuffed Ganesha fell to the ground on his stomach, vomiting out his dinner. On observing this, Chandra laughed, causing Ganesha to lose his temper. He broke off one of his tusks and hurled it toward the Moon, cursing him so that he would never be whole again. This legend describes the Moon’s waxing and waning including the big crater on the Moon, visible from Earth.

Such lunar myths have waned as technology has evolved, removing the mystery of the Moon but also opening up scientific debate.

Celestial Evolution: Two Theories

The pot marks on the Moon can be easily seen from the Earth’s surface with the naked eye, and it has led to numerous theories as to the history of the Moon. Recent scientific study brings forward two primary ideas.

One opinion of those who have studied the Moon is that it was once a liquid mass, and that its craters represent widespread and prolonged volcanic activity, when the gases and lava of the heated interior exploded to the surface.

However, there is another explanation for these lunar craters. According to G. K. Gilbert, of the USGS, the Moon was formed by the joining of a ring of meteorites which once encircled the Earth, and after the formation of the lunar sphere, the impact of meteors produced “craters” instead of arising from volcanic activity.

Either way, mapping the current contours of the lunar landscape will guide future human missions to the Moon by revealing regions that may be rich in useful resources or areas that need more detailed mapping to land a spacecraft safely .

Lay of the Land: Reading the Contours of the Moon

This map is a 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map built from six separate digital maps. The goal was to create a resource for science research and analysis to support future geologic mapping efforts.

Mapping purposes divide the Moon into the near side and far side. The far side of the Moon is the side that always faces away from the Earth, while the near side faces towards the Earth.

The most visible topographic feature is the giant far side South Pole-Aitken basin, which possesses the lowest elevations of the Moon. The highest elevations are found just to the northeast of this basin. Other large impact basins, such as the Maria Imbrium, Serenitatis, Crisium, Smythii, and Orientale, also have low elevations and elevated rims.

Shapes of Craters

The colors on the map help to define regional features while also highlighting consistent patterns across the lunar surface. Each one of these regions hosts the potential for resources.

Lunar Resources

Only further study will resolve the evolution of the Moon, but it is clear that there are resources earthlings can exploit. Hydrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, magnesium, calcium, aluminum, manganese, and titanium are some of the metals and minerals on the Moon.

Interestingly, oxygen is the most abundant element on the Moon. It’s a primary component found in rocks, and this oxygen can be converted to a breathable gas with current technology. A more practical question would be how to best power this process.

Lunar soil is the easiest to mine, it can provide protection from radiation and meteoroids as material for construction. Ice can provide water for radiation shielding, life support, oxygen, and rocket propellant feed stock. Compounds from permanently shadowed craters could provide methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

This is just the beginning—as more missions are sent to the Moon, there is more to discover.

Space Faring Humans

NASA plans to land astronauts—one female, one male—to the Moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis 3 mission, and after that, about once each year. It’s the beginning of an unfulfilled promise to make humans a space-faring civilization.

The Moon is just the beginning…the skills learned to map Near-Earth Objects will be the foundation for further exploration and discovery of the universe.

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Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/mapped-the-geology-of-the-moon-in-astronomical-detail/

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Hunger Pandemic: The COVID-19 Effect on Global Food Insecurity

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While COVID-19 is dominating headlines, another kind of emergency is threatening the lives of millions of people around the world—food insecurity.

The two are very much intertwined, however. By the end of 2020, authorities estimate that upwards of 265 million people could be on the brink of starvation globally, almost double the current rate of crisis-level food insecurity.

Today’s visualizations use data from the fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2020) to demonstrate the growing scale of the current situation, as well as its intense concentration in just 55 countries around the globe.

Global Overview

The report looks at the prevalence of acute food insecurity, which has severe impacts on lives, livelihoods, or both. How does the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) classify the different phases of acute food insecurity?

  • Phase 1: Minimal/None
  • Phase 2: Stressed
  • Phase 3: Crisis
  • Phase 4: Emergency
  • Phase 5: Catastrophe/Famine

According to the IPC, urgent action must be taken to mitigate these effects from Phase 3 onwards. Already, 135 million people experience critical food insecurity (Phase 3 or higher). Here’s how that breaks down by country:

Country/ Territory Total Population Analyzed (Millions) Population in Crisis (Phase 3+, Millions) Share of Analyzed Population in Crisis
Afghanistan¹ 30.7 11.3 37%
Angola¹
(24 communes in 3 provinces)
0.9 0.6 62%
Bangladesh
(Cox’s Bazar and host populations)
3.5 1.3 37%
Burkina Faso¹ 21.4 1.2 6%
Burundi 11.5 0.2 2%
Cabo Verde 0.5 0.01 2%
Cameroon¹
(7 regions)
16.1 1.4 8%
Central African Republic¹
(excluding Lobaye)
4.4 1.8 41%
Chad¹ 14.3 0.6 4%
Colombia¹
(Venezuelan migrants)
1.6 0.9 55%
Côte d’Ivoire 19.8 0.06 0%
Democratic Republic of the Congo¹
(109 territories)
59.9 15.6 26%
Ecuador¹
(Venezuelan migrants)
0.4 0.3 76%
El Salvador¹
(Eastern region)
1.4 0.3 22%
Eswatini¹
(rural population)
0.9 0.2 25%
Ethiopia¹
(selected areas in 6 regions)
28.7 8 27%
Gambia 2 0.2 10%
Guatemala¹ 16.6 3.1 18%
Guinea 10.1 0.3 3%
Guinea-Bissau¹ 1.3 0.1 10%
Haiti¹ 10.5 3.7 35%
Honduras¹
(13 departments)
5.1 1 18%
Iraq 39.3 1.8 5%
Kenya¹
(Arid and Semi-Arid Lands)
13.9 3.1 22%
Lebanon¹
(Syrian refugees)
0.9 0.3 29%
Lesotho¹
(rural population)
1.5 0.4 30%
Liberia 4.3 0.04 1%
Libya 6.7 0.3 5%
Madagascar¹
(Southern, south-eastern and eastern areas)
4.6 1.3 28%
Malawi¹ 15.3 3.3 22%
Mali¹ 20.5 0.6 3%
Mauritania¹ 4.1 0.6 15%
Mozambique¹
(39 districts)
5 1.7 34%
Myanmar 54 0.7 1%
Namibia 2.4 0.4 18%
Nicaragua 6 0.08 1%
Niger¹ 21.8 1.4 7%
Nigeria¹
(16 states and Federal Capital Territory)
103.5 5 5%
Pakistan¹
(Balochistan and Sindh drought-affected areas)
6 3.1 51%
Palestine 5 1.7 33%
Rwanda 12.6 0.1 1%
Senegal¹ 13.2 0.4 3%
Sierra Leone¹ 8.1 0.3 4%
Somalia¹ 12.3 2.1 17%
South Sudan² 11.4 7 61%
Sudan¹
(excluding West Darfur)
41.9 5.9 14%
Syrian Arab Republic 18.3 6.6 36%
Turkey¹
(Syrian refugees)
2.7 0.5 17%
Uganda 40 1.5 4%
Ukraine
(Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, and IDP)
6.1 0.5 9%
United Republic of Tanzania¹
(16 districts)
4.8 1 20%
Venezuela¹ 28.5 9.3 32%
Yemen² 29.9 15.9 53%
Zambia¹
(86 districts)
9.5 2.3 24%
Zimbabwe¹
(Rural population)
9.4 3.6 38%
Total populations 825.1 million 134.99 million

Source: GRFC 2020, Table 5 – Peak numbers of acutely food-insecure people in countries with food crises, 2019
¹ Include populations classified in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4)
² Include populations classified in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) and in Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5)

While starvation is a pressing global issue even at the best of times, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to almost double these numbers by an additional 130 million people—a total of 265 million by the end of 2020.

To put that into perspective, that’s roughly equal to the population of every city and town in the United States combined.

A Continent in Crisis

Food insecurity impacts populations around the world, but Africa faces bigger hurdles than any other continent. The below map provides a deeper dive:

global food crisis 2020 africa

Over half of populations analyzed by the report – 73 million people – are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Main drivers of acute food insecurity found all over the continent include:

  • Conflict/Insecurity
    Examples: Interstate conflicts, internal violence, regional/global instability, or political crises.
    In many instances, these result in people being displaced as refugees.
  • Weather extremes
    Examples: Droughts and floods
  • Economic shocks
    Macroeconomic examples: Hyperinflation and currency depreciation
    Microeconomic examples: Rising food prices, reduced purchasing power
  • Pests
    Examples: Desert locusts, armyworms
  • Health shocks
    Examples: Disease outbreaks, which can be worsened by poor quality of water, sanitation, or air
  • Displacement
    A major side-effect of conflict, food insecurity, and weather shocks.

One severely impacted country is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 15 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. DRC’s eastern region is experiencing intense armed conflict, and as of March 2020, the country is also at high risk of Ebola re-emergence.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Africa, a new generation of locusts has descended on croplands, wiping out vital food supplies for millions of people. Weather conditions have pushed this growing swarm of trillions of locusts into countries that aren’t normally accustomed to dealing with the pest. Swarms have the potential to grow exponentially in just a few months, so this could continue to cause big problems in the region in 2020.

Insecurity in Middle East and Asia

In the Middle East, 43 million more people are dealing with similar challenges. Yemen is the most food-insecure country in the world, with 15.9 million (53% of its analyzed population) in crisis. It’s also the only area where food insecurity is at a Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) level, a result of almost three years of civil war.

global food crisis 2020 middle east

Another troubled spot in the Middle East is Afghanistan, where 11.3 million people find themselves in a critical state of acute food insecurity. Over 138,000 refugees returned to the country from Iran and Pakistan between January-March 2020, putting a strain on food resources.

Over half (51%) of the analyzed population of Pakistan also faces acute food insecurity, the highest in all of Asia. These numbers have been worsened by extreme weather conditions such as below-average monsoon rains.

An Incomplete Analysis

As COVID-19 deteriorates economic conditions, it could also result in funding cuts to major humanitarian organizations. Upwards of 300,000 people could die every day if this happens, according to the World Food Program’s executive director.

The GRFC report also warns that these projections are still inadequate, due to major data gaps and ongoing challenges. 16 countries, such as Iran or the Philippines have not been included in the analysis due to insufficient data available.

More work needs to be done to understand the true severity of global food insecurity, but what is clear is that an ongoing pandemic will not do these regions any favors. By the time the dust settles, the food insecurity problem could be compounded significantly.

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Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/covid-19-global-food-insecurity/

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What’s New on VC+ in May 2020?

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If you’re a regular visitor to Visual Capitalist, you know that we’re your home base for data-driven, visual storytelling that helps explain a complex world.

But did you know there’s a way to get even more out of Visual Capitalist, all while helping support the work we do?

New to VC+ in May 2020

VC+ is our members program that gives you exclusive access to extra visual content and insightful special features. It also gets you access to The Trendline, our new members-only graphic newsletter.

So, what is getting sent to VC+ members in the coming weeks?


“Our Best Infographics on Wealth”

SPECIAL DISPATCH: A round up of the best performing wealth infographics on our site

Where does the world’s wealth lie?

We take a big-picture view of the world’s wealthiest countries, and also zero in on the richest people. In this VC+ special dispatch, our editors curate our best infographics to explain how some billionaires amassed their fortunes, and how economic wealth is expected to shift in the future.

Publishing date: May 12 (Get VC+ to access)


Introducing VC 360: A Critical Analysis

SPECIAL DISPATCH: Every month we will take a graphic that has caught our eye and put a VC spin on it; uncovering our unique design and editorial process

VC 360 is a brand new VC+ monthly feature, which will give our members an exclusive look at how our team approaches different charts, graphs, and other visuals. 

In each feature, we will select an interesting graphic from another media outlet or report and highlight how we, as a team, would have approached that topic, talking you through our techniques and modifications.

Publishing date: May 20 (Get VC+ to access)


Behind the Scenes with our New Book: Part 2

SPECIAL DISPATCH: A detailed look at one of the ‘signals’ that will be featured in the book

When most books are published, you are only privy to the final result.

However, we’re taking VC+ members to see what happens behind the scenes.

Last month, we showed members some of the early decisions we had to make on the book. In this month’s edition, VC+ members will get a first look at one of our first confirmed chapters for the book. In addition, we’ll uncover why we chose particular data to represent that ‘signal’, while showing you the process behind creating the visual dashboards that’ll be used in the book.

Publishing date: May 27 (Get VC+ to access)


The Trendline

PREMIUM NEWSLETTER: Our weekly members-only newsletter for VC+ members
The Trendline

Every week, VC+ members also get our premium graphic newsletter, The Trendline.

With The Trendline, we’ll send you the best visual content, datasets, and insightful reports relating to business that our editors find each week.

Publishing Date: Every Sunday


More Visuals. More Insight. More Understanding.

Get access to these upcoming features by becoming a VC+ member.

For a limited time, get 25% off, which makes your VC+ membership the same price as a coffee each month:

Get 25% Off VC+ Today

PS – We look forward to sending you even more great visuals and data!

Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/whats-new-on-vc-in-may-2020/

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