I always have a hard time trying to comprehend the size of an area on a map. When I was around 8 years old my teacher asked me to tell the class about the vacation I had just returned from in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. She asked me to show them on a big wall map where I was. I pointed to a small town on the gulf side of Mexico, pretty much a random guess, first mistake given that Puerta Vallarta is on the Pacific coast. The teacher didn’t call me on the error, which then gave me more confidence to continue. I went on to brag about how we had driven around the bay to see different parts, pointing to the entire Gulf of Mexico. My teacher was now even more impressed. She asked me how long it took to drive, when I replied a couple of hours she quickly sent me back to my desk. One geography lesson for the day totally ruined.
That story relates to how it is a hard to imagine the size of the disaster that is currently going on in the Gulf of Mexico. Well thanks to Andy Lintner, you can now see what the oil spill would cover if it happened in your home town. Here is the oil spill map for Ottawa, Canada. It really is shocking to see how much area is covered in oil.
Hat tip to the Freakonomics Blog.