Show Me the Data
One of the challenges of the modern world is to turn plentiful raw data into useful insights. GapMinder is particularly good at that, but they're not the only ones working on tools to allow experts and non-experts alike to manipulate and explore data. I found one of those tools on CNN, and I thought they did a good job. Using a slider, you can see the growth of global energy consumption split by region (North-America, Asia, Europe, Middle-East, etc), the growth of renewable energy production (compare the size of the circles... we're a long way off, sadly), the growth of CO2 emissions, and also the human population. Some of the changes are shocking.
You can also click on each of the circles to get a bit more details about that particular region.
At First Glance
The most striking thing that you can't help but notice the first time you run the visualization is just how fast both energy consumption and CO2 emissions grow in Asia (though on a per capita basis, they're still much lower than the US). Of course, a lot of that is because they manufacture things that people in other regions buy, but putting all politics aside (the atmosphere doesn't care), it's still the most significant increase globally.
It's also a bit disheartening to see the slow growth in renewable energy generation. It's also growing faster in Asia than elsewhere, but it still stays a fraction of the total consumption. This just goes to show that we need to do something to make renewables grow faster (internalizing the damages caused by fossil fuels with a revenue-neutral carbon tax would certainly help level the playing field -- as long as it doesn't cost anything to pollute, fossil fuels will reign).
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