He’s been called the Jedi master of data visualisation, dubbed a statistics guru and introduced as the man in whose hands data sings. When it comes to celebrity statisticians, Hans Rosling is firmly on the A-list.
In the years since his first TED talk (Stats that reshape your worldview), which thrust him into the spotlight in 2006 with millions of online views, Rosling’s now signature combination of animated data graphics and theatrical presentations has featured in dozens of video clips, a BBC4 documentary on The Joy of Stats, and numerous international conferences and UN meetings.
Instead of static bar charts and histograms, Rosling, professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, has used a combination of toy bricks, cardboard boxes, teacups and vibrant, animated data visualisations to breathe life into statistics on health, wealth and population. With comic timing and a flair for the unusual, Rosling’s style has undoubtedly helped make data cool.
When Time magazine included him in its 2012 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, it said his “stunning renderings of the numbers … have moved millions of people worldwide to see themselves and our planet in new ways”.
However, Rosling, 64, is less convinced about his impact on how people view the world. “It’s that I became so famous with so little impact on knowledge,” he says, when asked what’s surprised him most about the reaction he’s received.
“Fame is easy to acquire, impact is much more difficult. When we asked the Swedish population how many children are born per woman in Bangladesh, they still think it’s 4-5. I have no impact on knowledge. I have only had impact on fame, and doing funny things, and so on.” He’s similarly nonplussed about being a data guru. “I don’t like it. My interest is not data, it’s the world. And part of world development you can see in numbers. Others, like human rights, empowerment of women, it’s very difficult to measure in numbers.”
Politics and an oversimplified understanding of demographic dynamics have long kept population issues out of serious discussions in the framework of climate negotiations. Within adaptation actions, however, this is beginning to change, and this volume is intended to provide a framework for taking that change forward, towards better, more evidence-based adaptation.
It provides key concepts linking demography and adaptation, data foundations and techniques for analyzing climate vulnerability, as well as case studies where these concepts and analyses illuminate who is vulnerable and how to help build their resilience.
A group of volunteers have given up their time over the last few years to answer the question, once and for all, as to whether the “science is settled”.
People will generally defer to the judgment of experts, and they trust climate scientists on the subject of global warming.
To resolve this question once and for all, we reviewed the abstracts (paragraph-long summaries) of over 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers published between 1991 and 2011 with the keywords “global warming” and “global climate change.” Our team was comprised of a citizen science team of two dozen volunteers from around the world. Team members’ home countries included Australia, USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Finland, and Italy.
Most of the ratings were done by a dozen team members, who each read more than a thousand abstracts in their spare time over the span of several months. Analysing the data and writing the paper took close to another year after that. We didn’t receive any funding or compensation for our efforts; it was entirely a voluntary effort driven by the desire to settle the issue of scientific climate consensus once and for all.
The Beverage Marketing Corporation, which tracks sales and consumption of beverages, is reporting that sales of bottled water grew nearly 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, with consumption reaching a staggering 30.8 gallons per person.
Despite having one of the best municipal tap water systems in the world, American consumers are flocking to commercial bottled water, which costs thousands of times more per gallon. Why? Four reasons:
First, we have been bombarded with advertisements that claim that our tap water is unsafe, or that bottled water is safer, healthier, and more hip, often with celebrity endorsements. (Thanks a lot, Jennifer.)
Second, public drinking water fountains have become increasingly hard to find. And the ones that exist are not being adequately maintained by our communities.
Third, people are increasingly fearful of our tap water, hearing stories about contamination, new chemicals that our treatment systems aren’t designed to remove, or occasional failures of infrastructure that isn’t being adequately maintained or improved.
Fourth, some people don’t like the taste of their tap water, or think they don’t.
Some people, including the bottled water industry, argue that drinking bottled water is better than drinking soft drinks. I agree. But that’s not what’s happening. The vast increase in bottled water sales have largely come at the expense of tap water, not soft drinks. And even if we pushed (as we should) to replace carbonated soft drinks with water, it should be tap water, not expensive bottled water.
This industry has very successfully turned a public resource into a private commodity.
Nearly 75% of Americans and 68% of Canadians indicated they “support” or “somewhat support” the project, which would carry heavy crude from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining, according to the poll conducted by Ottawa-based Nanos Research.
The poll also asked participants—1,007 Americans and 1,013 Canadians—which was more important: reducing greenhouse-gas emissions or having North America free from oil imports? Both a majority of Americans and Canadians, 63% and 55%, respectively, suggested reducing reliance on oil imports trumped environmental policy.
“Energy security, particularly in the U.S., is driving views on energy issues,” said Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research.
Environmentalists argue that development of the Alberta oil sands for the crude that Keystone would carry will increase emissions of greenhouse gases.
The Nanos poll contacted Americans between March 28 and April 7, and Canadians between April 6 and April 9.
The Obama administration is, for a second time, reviewing TransCanada’s application to build Keystone after rejecting the project in 2012. Keystone faces stiff opposition in the U.S. from environmental groups and key Democratic policy makers.
Nanos Research conducted the poll and they’re pretty legit. Via WSJ.
Thursday’s report by dozens of scientists from five different federal agencies looked into why forecasters didn’t see the drought coming. The researchers concluded that it was so unusual and unpredictable that it couldn’t have been forecast.
“This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years,” said lead author Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Climate change was not a significant part, if any, of the event.”
Analysis of climate change modelling for past 15 years reveal accurate forecasts of rising global temperatures
The debate around the accuracy of climate modelling and forecasting has been especially intense recently, due to suggestions that forecasts have exaggerated the warming observed so far – and therefore also the level warming that can be expected in the future. But the new research casts serious doubts on these claims, and should give a boost to confidence in scientific predictions of climate change.
The paper, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Geoscience, explores the performance of a climate forecast based on data up to 1996 by comparing it with the actual temperatures observed since. The results show that scientists accurately predicted the warming experienced in the past decade, relative to the decade to 1996, to within a few hundredths of a degree.
The forecast, published in 1999 by Myles Allen and colleagues at Oxford University, was one of the first to combine complex computer simulations of the climate system with adjustments based on historical observations to produce both a most likely global mean warming and a range of uncertainty. It predicted that the decade ending in December 2012 would be a quarter of degree warmer than the decade ending in August 1996 – and this proved almost precisely correct.
The study is the first of its kind because reviewing a climate forecast meaningfully requires at least 15 years of observations to compare against. Assessments based on shorter periods are prone to being misleading due to natural short-term variability in the climate.
Soon, governments and citizens alike will be able to spot illegal loggers from space. A new tool called Global Forest Watch 2.0 will give anyone with a computer or smartphone the ability to zoom in on forests around the world and spy on illegal cutting operations in near-real time.
“Global Forest Watch 2.0 aims to transform access to information about what’s happening to forests everywhere around the globe,” says Nigel Sizer, the director of the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Initiative in Washington, D.C. “The platform allows people to see those numbers—how much clearing is done year by year in oil concessions in Indonesia, for example, or by a cattle ranch in the Brazilian Amazon—without involving training in technology or science.”
The open-access online monitoring platform, which will include two major data sets when it launches in the first half of 2013, combines satellite technology, data sharing and social networks to combat deforestation.
The first dataset, provided by the NASA MODIS system, is updated every 16 days. Over that same period, algorithms compute the likelihood that any given 250-square-meter patch of forest has been cleared based upon the remote-sensing imagery. Higher spatial resolution data, provided by the University of Maryland, will be added annually. The platform relies upon cloud computing for storing the massive datasets involved in visualizing and processing the maps.
Death rate per watts, Nuclear, Oil, Coal. Classic chart exposes cognitive dissonance, and persistent self-denial…
Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another? How did you come to this opinion?
Here are the stats. For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced.
Vivid is not the same as true. It’s far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That’s just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.
This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we’ve got.
Update II: The reblog comments are incredible. Not one acknowledged or seems to have read the post. Nor, it seems, has a single reader clicked through to read the original post. Only one commenter, that I could tell, attempted to discuss the underlying facts. Instead, there were mostly “But” type replies that repeat the very myths this chart aims to debunk. What an incredible experience from my point of view, and a major lesson learned…
He looked like a former linebacker, tall and solidly built. After stowing his wife’s luggage in the overhead, he squeezed past me, sat down and looked straight at the astronomy textbook I was reading. “You’re a scientist?” he asked. “Are you involved in that big controversy over climate?”
I looked into his face and could see he wasn’t angry or hostile or combative. He seemed like a good guy and, by the way his wife gently rolled her eyes, I could see he liked to talk. So I took a chance and replied.
What followed was a long conversation, 30,000 feet above the American West, about a great and dangerous gap. On the one hand we spoke of science and what it looks like on the ground to those who practice it. On the other hand we waded knee-deep into the wreckage that is science in the sphere of politics.
From my seatmate’s perspective the field of climate studies must be awash in controversy. Was the planet warming, or not?
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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