Have you ever imagined how your life might have turned out if you were born in a different country? How might you be different if you had grown up in a country that faced a serious natural disaster, such as a tsunami, a nuclear explosion, or a major oil spill? IfItWereMyHome.com seeks to answer questions like this through its country comparison and disaster analysis tools.
IfItWereMyHome.com was founded in 2010 by Andy Lintner, a 33-year-old software engineer, as a way to demonstrate the true size of the BP Oil Spill. To give a brief refresher, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off of the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April 20, 2010, killing eleven crew members. As Lintner explains on IfItWereMyHome.com, the oil spill released 190 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before BP was able to stop the leak on July 15, 2010. The effects on local wildlife and fishing communities were devastating, stretching to Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida (http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/oil-spill/) and resulting in the deaths of over 494 sea turtles and 60 dolphins. Given the magnitude of this disaster, Lintner created his disaster tool as a way for viewers to visualize what an oil spill of that size would look like if it were mapped onto their home. In his own words, Lintner writes on the website that depicting “large facts in relation to a person’s own home is much more revealing than a simpler presentation of facts.” Thus, Lintner’s disaster tool allows viewers to “move the spill” around on a Google map to wherever they desire or “put it back in the Gulf” in order to see the reality of its spread.
Following the success of his disaster tool in 2010, Lintner decided to expand IfItWereMyHome.com to include not only a new disaster tool about the 2010 Pakistan flood, but also a country comparison tool, which allows users to compare life in their home country to any
other country in the world. For instance, users can see how much more or less likely they would be to have babies, be unemployed, experience a class divide, or have HIV/AIDS in a particular country compared to their home country. In addition, visitors to the website can see comparative statistics about how much money they would make, free time they would have, electricity they would use, or oil they would consume. You can even see summary statistics about any country’s history and languages spoken, as well as find suggestions for further reading on the country. Ultimately, IfItWereMyHome.com is a vital tool for individuals who want to take a virtual tour of life in other countries and put international current events into perspective.
Although it is difficult to contextualize global issues, Lintner’s website brings us one step closer to genuinely understanding the statistics we hear about in the news. It will be exciting to see how he continues to develop his website in the future and which recent ecological disasters he chooses to focus on.