Know your World

Thanks to a link from one of Atanu’s posts, I discovered the amazingly powerful and insightful data graph of GapMinder on the state of the World and its evolution since the 1800s.

Whether it’s birth/death rates you need or cellphone usage per 100 people, CO2 emissions per tonne or air accident deaths, forest land in sq. km. or unemployment rates in women, this one visual has absolutely every thing on it!

It’s an extremely powerful and useful way to represent data, and you should consider spending some time clicking on the X-axis title and choosing various indicators, to see how they play out.  Mouse-over on the chart or map will also give you added info on any statistic.  Plus, there’s plenty of help to choose from, in case you feel overwhelmed.

GapMinder World’s site describes the tool as a “fact-based world view“.  It simply doesn’t get any better than this…

The Big Picture

I must confess, as someone who cares about the environment, when I first read about the concept of Earth Hour, my immediate reaction was not quite positive.  After all, could one hour of switching off non-essential lights really make a difference?!  But, when you think about it, doing so wouldn’t hurt either.  And, if the result of this effort was only a bit more awareness among earthlings, even that would be a step in the right direction.

Whichever way you feel about the event, you won’t be able to deny the beauty in these photographs taken from urban landmarks across the globe, showing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ effects of Earth Hour 2009… 

Here’s how The Boston Globe’s “Earth Hour 2009” page describes its effort:

Started in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour quickly grew into a global observance. More than 1,000 cities in over 80 countries observed Earth Hour 2009 on Saturday March 28th, as homes, office towers and landmarks turned off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30 pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Collected here are a series of before-and-after photographs – which (starting with the second one below) will fade between “on” and “off” when clicked.

Let me state that again, since I know not everyone reads the whole intro here – starting with image #2 below, click on the image to see an animated fade between “on” and “off”. (This effect requires javascript to be enabled.)

Have fun!

Two Earths

I was browsing through a local financial daily – LiveMint – when an interesting headline caught my eye: “Two Planets for Greed“, it read.  And, here’s what it had to say…

According to the latest World Wide Fund for Nature Living Planet Report, humanity’s current “ecological footprint”—or impact on the earth’s services—exceeds the planet’s regenerative capacity by about 30%. The report adds that if the present scenario prevails, “by the early 2030s we will need two planets to keep up with humanity’s demand for goods and services”.
 
India’s footprint, at 2.2 times its biocapacity—the potential of its living resources to supply the demands made by its population—is only marginally lower than China’s, at 2.3 times, but more than the US’, at 1.8 times. This, despite the fact that all three feature in the list of eight countries that account for 50% of the world’s total biocapacity.
Naturally, I headed to the WWF website to find out more.  And, the news was as disturbing as the original writeup had suggested:
 
The world is heading for an ecological credit crunch as human demands on the world’s natural capital far outstrips the Earth’s ability to sustain it.
Is there any thing you and I can do about this impending global crisis?  The good news is, Yes!
 
WWF has a detailed page on “How you can help the environment” by making small (but significant) changes in your daily life, whether at work, at home or even while travelling.  Get to that list, before it’s too late.  As the old line goes, “It’s not just a planet, it’s home!”
 
Read More:
Full text of the Living Planet Report 2008.