Inefficient system, instinctive reaction and the power of Visualization

After this weeks’ reading, I realized that one of the most important things for a carbon efficient society is having a worldwide consistent calculation model for CO2 output. One example offered in the chapter 2 of the book is the metric measurement and as an international student I surely share the same feeling about the inefficiency.

When I talked to my classmate about how I like the weather of San Francisco during the summer. It is difficult to specifically describe the climate because I have no idea about how to convert 11 degree in Celsius to Fahrenheit. When I was working in the fabrication lab I felt desperately confused about all the rulers, benders, welding tools marked with imperial scale. I don’t even know how much butter I should cut off for my recipe since I don’t have an idea about how heavy each pint/ounce is without conversion to gram.

United States is one of a few countries still using the imperial counting system. For the newcomers outside the United States like me, it is really difficult to get used to the imperial measurement and apply it into practice since we don’t have a basic concept of how long, how far, how heavy or how bulky each unit in imperial is.

In my opinion, this kind of sense of scale, should be bound to your instinct, like when someone tells a number, you can reflect it in your mind immediately, rather than use a ruler or a converter to do the calculation.

Likewise, it is significant to set up a universal standard to help the public understand how functional a single ecological act or protocol is in the processes of CO2 circulation. In this context, visualization might be a very crucial tool to help people understand the scale of CO2 emission and connect these numbers to certain scenarios people are familiar with in their daily life.


A screenshot of interactive visualization made by David McCandless teamed up with GE examines some of those scenarios. (the original link of this interactive visualization cannot be navigated any longer)

To read more visualization concerning CO2 emission click here.


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