Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Picturing carbon over time

Having trouble with lots of carbon numbers and Copenhagen claims? A solution is the World Bank's Data Visualizer. It does a great job in turning numbers into pictures.

It's hard to visualise greenhouse gas emissions, and more difficult still to conceptualise the numbers over time, across countries and against other important measures like economy and health. In the image, the bubble size is total emission plotted against economy (horizontal) and per person emissions (vertical).

Go to the Data Visualizer site, chose what you want to compare - from the left hand side menu - and then press play and watch the changes over time.

And a suggestion for the World Bank. Add future scenarios to this visualiser. It would be great to see the data map a path for contraction of total greenhouse emissions and, convergence to equivalent per person emissions, in the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More than GDP

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France with his high powered Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (CMEPSP - including Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi) form the latest group to join the call for a better measure of progress than GDP.

The CMEPSP's report (3Mb pdf) highlights current well-being alongside the assessment of sustainability - whether this well-being can last over time. It's recommendations focus on changing our emphasis from measuring economic production to quality of life, equity and our well being over time and into the future.

It's not a new argument - famous examples included Bhutan's Gross National Happiness, Redefining Progress and, The New Economics Foundation. But it is a very prominent call for change.

Nicolas Sarkozy is encouraging a great revolution to economic and well being measurement. Others in France however see GDP here for a long time into the future. GDP criticisms include the non measurement of state expenditure, such as some public health and, the positive value it places on destructive economic activity.