About 2 years ago I wrote about something I called mapping the might have been; things that were planned and made it onto a map but which never came about. Now it’s time for the opposite; maps of things that haven’t yet come to be but which probably will. It’s less mapping the might have been and more mapping the will be.
The planet we live on is one giant magnet, with poles that roughly align with the geographic poles which marks the axis on which the Earth spins. We’re used to the notion that North is up at the top of the planet and South is on the other side. But what if these poles reverse? About every half a million years or so this happens and when it does, everything changes and magnetic compasses will no longer work the way we expect them to. When this does happen, maybe the map of the world that we’re so familiar with will look something like this.
From examining the magnetic patterns in rock, scientists have calculated that the process of geomagnetic reversal has happened more times than you’d think, almost 20 times in the course of our planet’s history and they estimate this will happen again. But probably not for another 2000 or so years so you won’t need this map just yet.
On a shorter timescale, you might need these next maps a bit sooner. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that our planet is slowly but surely warming and the polar ice caps aren’t as big as they were. But what would the map of the world look like if all the polar ice melted? In Europe a lot of familiar cities would go the way of Atlantis; London, Venice, Amsterdam and Copenhagen would all vanish slowly under the rising seas.
While on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, most of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, including Boston, New York, Washington, D.C, Miami and New Orleans would also be no more.
Whatever your views on the topic of climate change, these National Geographic maps are a sobering and grimly fascinating view of what might and probably will be.