Frames /sing


Digital Exhalations: Births, Deaths and CO2

Found over at Immanence, this animated model of “real time” CO2 emissions  and single births and deaths has a pictoral beauty to it. Statistics speak within the clothing of computer simulation, and one cannot help but feel a certain spatial continuity, especially when watching individual lives come and go. Like lights flickering, a living thing comes and vanishes across its stochastic horizon, accompanied by its own ideological rainstick sound atmospheric. As media work to affectively bind the bodies of people under new and different regimes of knowledge, something like “the environment” must necessarily pass through such a transformation. Think of the first maps of European navigation.

Sources for data: 

Birth and death rates: 2008 estimates, from the CIA World Factbook

Population: Data is based on July 2008 estimates from the CIA World Factbook. When Breathing Earth is started, it uses each country’s birth and death rates to calculate how much its population has changed since July 2008, and adjusts its population figure accordingly. To calculate the total world population, Breathing Earth adds up the population figures of all countries. It continues adjusting the various population figures as you watch it, each time a person is born or a person dies.

CO2 emission rates: 2004 figures from the United Nations Statistics Division. These are the most up-to-date figures as of December 2008. Collating CO2 emissions data for every country on Earth, representing the same time period, is undoubtedly a massive and very complex task that relies on the availability of many other sets of data. This probably explains why the most recent CO2 emissions data available is from 2004.

CO2 emission rates from two years earlier: When Breathing Earth was first built, it used 2002 figures, also from the United Nations Statistics Division. When you hover your mouse over a country, Breathing Earth compares the 2002 and 2004 figures and indicates whether that country’s CO2 emissions have increased or decreased in that time, using the red or green arrow that appears near the bottom-left.

There was an unavailability of a portion of the data for a few of the tinier countries (eg. Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Lesotho). In such cases, I made estimates based on their population, economy, and the data of their relevant neighbours. In all such cases, the figures were so low that even had my estimates been wildly inaccurate, the effect on the simulation would have been negligible.


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