Posts Incorrectly Cite Map as Showing Future Effects of Climate Change

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Posts Incorrectly Cite Map as Showing Future Effects of Climate Change

By Komal Patel

Posted on July 13, 2022


Quick Take

An architect created a map in 2015 as a “thought experiment” to show how the Mediterranean Sea would fit inside the United States. However, social media posts have misinterpreted the map as a prediction of the impact of climate change. The map’s creator said it is not related to climate change in any way.

Full Story

A map was created by Bret Drager, an architect, in December 2015 that superimposes the Mediterranean Sea on the continental United States. Drager posted the image to the Tumblr blog The Arcadian Ideal.

Describing the map as “a brave new alternate United States of America,” Drager wrote that he wondered if the Mediterranean Sea would fit in the United States, and after “lots of graphic manipulation,” he was able to create the image. The image was then also posted to Brilliant Maps in October 2017. 

Drager recently told the Associated Press that he created the map as a “thought experiment” and that it is not related to climate change in any way.

From there, the map took on a life of its own on social media.

In October 2021, a Twitter user posted the map with the caption, “Scientists say this map represents the US in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change.”

The post quickly began to gain traction. USA Today said that many comments appeared to take the claim seriously. But the Twitter user told USA Today he intended the post as satire and “figured folks would spot Italy right away and have a good laugh.”

The Twitter user reposted the original tweet on July 8, and it has once again gone viral. While most commenters realize the post is satire, some appear to have taken it seriously again.

However, the Twitter user has been retweeting fact-checks related to it as well and commented in one retweet: “Verdict. Satire.”

We reached out to the Twitter user but haven’t received a response.

On July 11, a Facebook user posted the same image, falsely claiming that “scientists say this map represents the United States in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change,” and the post has gained over 100,000 views in less than 24 hours. Again, some commenters appear to take it seriously.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2022 Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States report, the sea level along the U.S. coastline is projected to rise 10 to 12 inches on average between 2020 and 2050, which will be as much as the rise in sea level that occurred between 1920 and 2020. “Tens of millions of people in the United States already live in areas at risk of coastal flooding, with more moving to the coasts each year,” the report said.

Various sources, such as NASA and NOAA, have created visualization tools to help see the estimated effects of the sea level rising.


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

NOAA. “Global and Regional Sea Level Scenarios for the United States.” Feb 2022.

Avina, Carlos. “How crazy that scientists say this map represents the United States in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change….. I’m low key ok with that.” Facebook. 11 Jul 2022. 

Drager, Bret. “The Mediterranean Sea of America.” Tumblr. 26 Dec 2015. 

NASA. “IPCC AR6 Sea Level Projection Tool.” Accessed 12 Jul 2022.

The Associated Press. “Map shows Mediterranean Sea on the U.S., not climate change impact.” 9 Jul 2022.

Michael (@mjr880). “Scientists say this map represents the US in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change.” Twitter. 26 Oct 2021.

Michael (@mjr880). “Scientists say this map represents the US in 30 years if we don’t reverse climate change.” Twitter. 8 Jul 2022.

Michael (@mjr880). “Just in case you weren’t sure.” Twitter. 10 Jul 2022. 

Michael (@mjr880). “Verdict. Satire.” Twitter. 10 Jul 2022. 

Sadeghi, McKenzie. “Fact check: Posts falsely claim to show US map in 30 years if climate change isn’t addressed.” USA Today. 28 Oct 2021.

Climate.org. “Sea Level Rise – Map Viewer.” Accessed 12 Jul 2022.

Brilliant Maps. “The Mediterranean Sea of America.” 11 Oct 2017. 

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