The website “Our world in data” specializes in gathering data, assessing it, and presenting it effectively through graphs. Looking purely at numbers and trying to distill a trend or message from them is often quite difficult. I think this website does an effective job of presenting important world data in an interesting manner. The specific article I found the graph on is titled “CO2 and other Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. They elaborate on the role CO2 plays in our atmosphere (its processes and interactions with plants and humans) and give close to 30 graphs that show various statistics. Levels of methane, nitrous oxide, are shown, along with representations of various GHG outputs by country. All the graphs are interactive, and you are able to click on them to learn more.
The graph I chose to present deals with the global CO2 levels worldwide in recent history. A line graph of sorts, it breaks down global CO2 emissions, but distinguishes each countries output by color. The graph starts in the year 1751, so its interesting to see how little CO2 was emitted early on compared to now. Industrialization and the rise of the world’s population are obviously the largest factors in play here with this trend. However, even from 1990 to 2015, there was a significant jump, where CO2 emissions almost doubled. In looking at the division of countries by color, one can see that the U.S. and China make up the bulk of world emissions. China has slightly larger emissions than the U.S. currently. I think it’s interesting to see that no other singular country comes close to the U.S. or China in terms of emissions.
The graph above shows us the “The Top 20 Countries with the Worst Plastic Waste Management” in the world which are in order of most to least “plastic waste with poor waste management*”…
- The Philippines
- Sri Lanka
- South Africa
- North Korea
When this graph talks about how plastic waste in improperly managed the authors are referring to the millions of metric tons that end up in the ocean every year. This bar graph in particular recognizes that even though “North America, China, and Europe produce around two-thirds of the world’s plastic” it is not reflected in this graph because it is managed more “responsibly”.
Although, on further research I found that the United States is dependent on China’s plastic waste footprint economically as we import over 20% of our goods from China. It makes me question these graphs and how accurate they really are when we are so interconnected to one another in an age of hyper-globalization. It’s hard to know who to point the finger at when it comes to poor plastic management which is why it’s probably just best to look in the mirror.
According to Pew Research Center, Americans are making few eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle choices, even though three-quarters of the population see climate change as a very serious issue. The Environmental Protection Agency strongly recommends that people purchase an electric car, instead of one that runs on gas. However, 95% of Americans have not made this switch. The EPA also suggests that people carpool or use public transportation to commute to work, but three quarters of Americans still drive alone.
The graph below shows 7 different modes of transportation that people use to commute to and from work and how the popularity of each has changed since 1980. Since 1980, “driving alone” has increased from 64.4% to 76.5%. The number of people who carpool to work has decreased by more than half from 19.7% in 1980 to 9.2% in 2014. In general, people are also using less public transportation and taxis, but there is an increase in the number of people who work from home.
Even though the EPA has made recommendations as to how people can live more sustainably and 45% of the population has said that climate change is a huge threat, few people are actually making any changes to their routine. What do you think are other ways that would get people to actually make more sustainable choices?