“If I were to give you a blank map with no labels, no highways, just county lines and state lines, could you draw a dot within 50 miles of your house?” That is the question posed by James Spann, chief meteorologist at Birmingham’s ABC 33/40. He was worried (and a bit frustrated) that when maps of the local area were shown during times of severe weather outbreaks, many people didn’t know where they lived. So he started visiting various rotary clubs and other venues to survey average citizens. He found 60-70% of those he quizzed could not pinpoint where they lived. With smartphone turn-by-turn GPS directions, geographic literacy seems to be a serious problem that’s on the rise.
A significant number of Americans live in tornado-prone areas, and others may be dealing with different environmental threats, like flooding, earthquakes or tsunamis. Spann sums it up perfectly: “If you can’t identify where you live on a map, you’re just in big trouble.” [Source: WBUR.org]