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My Turn: Ditch the bogus maps

Posted: March 4, 2014 - 12:00am
Map provided by Jerry Smetzer
Map provided by Jerry Smetzer

The Juneau Empire needs to replace the weather maps it publishes on the back page of the daily paper. In showing Alaska the size of Oklahoma and lying south of Arizona, and in showing Hawaii as a northern suburb of Mexico City, your published maps are false and misleading. As a media outlet for the news, the Empire should realize that this bogus information about the true sizes, shapes and locations of the 50 States of the United States throws into question the validity and authority of all the other information presented in your daily paper. Publishing the same bogus maps every day is a really bad idea.

Alaska’s location and size makes the U.S. one of the very few nations on the planet with a major physical presence in the Arctic. The only nations with a larger physical presence above the Arctic Circle are Russia, Canada and Greenland. Your continued publication of these bogus maps makes all the efforts by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and many other Alaskans to raise awareness about the critical importance of the United States’ role in the Arctic, pointless and irrelevant.

The changes occurring in the Arctic because of the melting of Arctic ice are rapid, massive and profound. By publishing accurate maps instead of bogus maps you will be helping to illuminate and educate the people of Juneau, and elsewhere, about what is going on above the Arctic Circle, and about the scope of the changes in the planet’s climate and weather systems that are underway and gathering force. Publishing misleading geographic information every day severely damages these educational efforts.

One final point. Your weather map of Alaska only shows that part of Alaska lying within the planet’s western hemisphere. The farthest islands in the Aleutian chain — Attu, Shemya and Kiska — lie in the eastern hemisphere. Attu, Shemya and Kiska were the only United States territories invaded and occupied by an enemy force during World War II, and the only invasion and occupation of the US since the War of 1812.

By leaving those three islands off your published map, you are saying that the lives of the nearly 1,500 infantry, airmen, sailors, marines and Alaska Native scouts who died, and the more than 4,000 wounded and missing in the year-long war to retake those islands are not worthy of notice. That is a problem that also needs to be fixed.

These false images can be corrected easily in Photoshop, or whatever layout program you all use in your media shop. They can be corrected by moving and re-sizing the objects containing weather information into a layout that more closely reflects the actual geography of planet Earth. I hope you will do so soon.

• Jerry Smetzer is a Juneau resident; following the federal Census In 1990-91, he worked as a GIS mapping specialist with the Alaska Governor’s Legislative District Reapportionment Board.

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