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Earth Politics

Scottish Independence Campaign Battles Over BBC Weather Forecast 286

00_NOP writes "The political battle over Scotland's independence ballot — to take place in September this year — has now moved on to how the BBC project the UK on their national weather forecast. The BBC use a projection based on the view of Britain from geostationary weather satellites and so there is naturally some foreshortening at the northern end of Britain (Scotland, in other words). But nationalist campaigners say this means Scottish viewers are constantly being shown a distorted image of their country which makes it look smaller and hence (in their view) less able to support independence. In response others have suggested that the nationalists are truly 'flat earthers.'"
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Scottish Independence Campaign Battles Over BBC Weather Forecast

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  • Re:Map projections (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:47AM (#46374889)

    I picture it being like our hillbillies of the south,wanting to secede @ civil war

    Most hillbillies did NOT want to secede. Mountainous regions did not have plantations, so had few slaves, and the people there saw little benefit in secession. The hillbillies of Virginia seceded from their state, and rejoined the Union as West Virgina. The hillbillies of the other states raised regiments to fight in the Union Army. The only state that didn't raise at least a regiment for the Union was South Carolina, which has few mountains.

    Time and economy say its right to let Scotland and Ireland go.

    It seems the opposite to me. Economics says stay in the UK, and the independence movement is most driven by emotion. Which is why I predict the independence vote will fail. People will follow their heart when answering pollsters, but are more hard headed when casting ballots.

    England should let them go and concentrate their efforts instead, on making a beer thats worth a fuck.

    Or they could do what Americans do: chill it down so cold that you can no longer taste how horrible it is.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:16AM (#46375007) Homepage
    The problem is that any projection of a map onto a flat surface is distorted. There are no un-distorted maps. A map contains serveral classes of important data on a map, and projections mainly affect distances, areas and angles. It is mathematically impossible to have a plane projection of the Earth's surface which correctly displays distances, but you can have a map that preserves angles and a map that preserves areas. You can't have a preservation of both area and angle in the same map though. But both angle-preserving and area-preserving maps are absolutely bad at displaying distances, so most projections in use today try to compromise between areas and angles and still have not too large distortions of distances. Northpole and Southpole, because they are uninhabited, are cut off most maps, which gives larger playroom for compromise-maps.

    But if you have a map, which tries a compromise between angle preservation and area preservation, and which does not show North- and Southpole, you will always have the areas of the northern and southern regions displayed larger than they are compared to those near the Equator. This is a pure mathematical necessity and not limited to the Mercator projection. The only way to not have this distortion is not to have the Equator being horizontal on your map.

  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:36AM (#46375659)

    No, the point is that this map is meant to be useful. It is meant to accurately show what the weather is doing in various places. If someone chooses to make the representation of that 40 times smaller (yes, that really is how much smaller shetland ends up with this projection) for some people, than for others, then it's a very clearly biased map.

    The point re independence is that while the weather map is clearly a subtle and tiny issue, these things add up. Every time a decision is made, it's made with first thought to London, and 1/40th of the thought to the north of Scotland. As such, decisions are made that are not in the best interest of Scotland, and hence... We should go independent.

  • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:59AM (#46375795)

    The problem is that any projection of a map onto a flat surface is distorted. There are no un-distorted maps. A map contains serveral classes of important data on a map, and projections mainly affect distances, areas and angles. It is mathematically impossible to have a plane projection of the Earth's surface which correctly displays distances, but you can have a map that preserves angles and a map that preserves areas.

    The BBC weathermap is not a true planar projection, though. It's a 3D projection rendered onto 2D, emulating the view of the UK from orbit. Neither ground-level angles, nor latitudinal distance, nor longitudinal distance, nor surface area are preserved. All distances and all areas are reduced. This is because the projection is seemingly taken from somewhere above France, so the south of England is close to the camera, and the north of Scotland is not only further away (hence smaller) but also reduced in height due to the curvature of the Earth included in the projection.

    When this first came in (years ago now), the justification of this was that it is more "natural" to look at, and easier to understand... but only a handful of people have ever had the opportunity to see the UK from such an angle, so I can't see what's so natural about it. Furthermore, the BBC initially refused to allow any regional opt-out from the standard projection, so the Scottish weather was on a zoomed subsection of the map, which had practically zero north/south resolution compared to exaggerated east/west.

    After a lot of complaints, the BBC tweaked the angles slightly, but the problem still remains. It is particularly irritating that the Gaelic weather forecasts, half of whose target audience are in the Highlands and Islands, is forced to use the same map, where their part of Scotland is so drastically shrunken that a single weather symbol blocks out over a hundred miles on the map.

  • by Sesostris III ( 730910 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:54PM (#46376101)
    Yes, I don't get a say (as in voting in the referendum) on this, and I accept that as right and proper. The decision whether to become independent or not is being rightly left to the voters of Scotland. I don't need to be referred to an article by Roger Scruton to "educate" myself on this! Actually, What I was trying to point out is that the voters of Scotland haven't as yet has a say on this themselves - they will do in September - so to indicate that they have already come to a decision (and that the decision was for 'moral' reasons) is incorrect.

    Yes, I'm sure the rUK could vote in a Labour government on it's own. That was not the point I was trying to make. What I was pointing out was that the phrase "Successive Tory governments" seems to ignore the existence of the last Labour government (1997 to 2010), a government where much of the 'top brass' was Scottish.

    (Talking of governments and parties, the McCrone report, although commissioned by a Conservative Government, was suppressed by the Labour Government under Harold Wilson!)

    Finally, if Scotland does vote to become an independent country, then I shall wish it well, and hope for ongoing friendship between Scotland and the rUK. If Scotland votes to remain in the UK, then I hope we all continue to strive to make the UK work well for all its citizens.
  • Re:Map projections (Score:2, Informative)

    by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:40PM (#46377187)

    Actually wealthy plantation slaveholders and their allies in the American colonies (Washington, Jefferson, even Franklin profited from slaves) broke away when it became obvious the British government was going to abolish slavery in the near future.

    Obviously the Revolution was fought to preserve slavery, since it started in Massachusetts, which banned slavery in 1783. That was the same year that the earliest serious anti-slavery movement even started in the UK, and 50 years before that movement had any serious effect (60 years before slavery was banned throughout the empire). That ban was also as motivated by a slave result in Jamaica as any serious abolitionist sentiment. Moreover, by the time that the UK seriously started to ban slavery in the empire, every single Northern state had already passed laws against it. Since your understanding of the American Revolution is let us say scant, I'll mention that those Northern states that banned slavery before the British Empire were the colonies that had the strongest Patriot (pro-revolution) sentiment.

    I understand American history books take a different view but since they were written by the slaveholders, for the slaveholders that's not surprising.

    American history books were written by slaveholders? I know some of them are out of date, but probably less than 149 years. If your point is that the victors write the history books, you should learn something about the American Civil War and its pivotal role in American history.

    Their constant harping on the British crown and George III as the Bad Guy because he wanted to abolish slavery

    Nobody harps about that, because it's a complete fantasy.

    the Crown had possessed little or no political power in Britain since the mid-1600s when Parliament explained the facts of life to Charles I with the edge of an axe

    You should read up on UK history. The English Civil War certainly put the crown on notice not to antagonize Parliament too much, and the Glorious Revolution established Parliament's power to select the successor to the crown (no Catholics please), but the crown still retained considerable power. It was hardly like today.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith