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February 13, 2001, NEW YORK CITY – On NBC-TV’s popular political drama "West Wing" on Feb. 28, the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality (a fictionalized professional society) pitches President Bartlet and staff to support legislation mandating every public school in America to teach geography using the Peters Projection map.

The Peters Projection map was produced with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and is distributed in North America by Friendship Press, the publishing imprint of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. To order, call toll free 1-800-889-5733.

The map has generated a firestorm of controversy since its introduction in 1975. The map projection, developed by Dr. Arno Peters, has both passionate fans and staunch detractors. Conservative Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution, in his recent book, "Vision of the Anointed," criticized advocates of "political correctness" for supporting the Peters Projection.

But many faith-based and social justice organizations, including Oxfam, the National Council of Churches and the Mennonite Central Committee, support the Peters Projection as being more accurate and, more importantly, fair to all peoples.

The Peters is in a class of map projections, equal-area maps, that show all countries at true size and true proportion. For example, the equator is dead center in the middle of the map, rather than pushed down below the 50 percent mark on the vertical axis, as shown on nearly all other projections.

Greenland, on the familiar Mercator projection, appears to be the same size as Africa. However, Africa (at 11.6 million square miles) actually is more than 14 times as large as Greenland (at 0.8 million square miles).

Maps are designed for specific purposes, and they usually have agendas. Because the earth is round, any flat map can only show a part of the truth. The Mercator was designed for navigation and is still valuable for that purpose, but it gives a wildly distorted sense of size and position. The Peters shows how large, and where, each country is.

See Also: Friendship Press On-Line Catalog/Maps


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