Talking about carbon dioxide emissions and world population can be tricky. When comparing big numbers to other big numbers it's pretty easy to lose perspective. Bring time into the equation and your lucky if expert statisticians can explain the numbers to you. Thankfully, Stockholm-based Gapminder's Trendanalyzer software brings these facts into a new light, allowing numbers to tell the story of climate change rather than words.
This graph comparing the world's countries CO2 emissions per capita and percent urban population is quite powerful and informative at the same time. The X-variable can be changed and you can "Play" the graph to see the statistics movement over time. I highlighted a few noteworthy countries that come up often in the emissions debate, like India, China and the US. Take a look at the United Arab Emirates though and note that this is on a logarithmic scale; the increase in emissions with raising urban population is pretty disconcerting. In addition, measuring CO2 emissions per capita versus population displays the staggering speed that India and China's CO2 emissions are increasing relative to the rest of the world.
Without this kind of software, grasping these trends would be next to impossible. Even for those with a passion for the environment, the barriers to fully understanding information can be pretty high. Anything that helps people to see what is going on can be just as useful as any new innovation in eco-technology. Check out Breathing Earth for another great example of the power of visualized data.
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