My daughter sent me a link to Breathing Earth a week or so ago, and I’ve had it on the list of things to explore since then. Breathing Earth provides real-time simulation displays the CO2 emissions of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates.The data used for the simulation has been gleaned from a variety of sources, including CIA World Factbook and United Nations Statistics Division.
The creator of the simulation emphasises that this is purely a simulation, and that data that measures things on such a massive scale can never be 100% accurate – however, I think it is an effective way of visually modelling some of the issues and concerns that exist around global warming, CO2 emissions etc as a ‘way into’ thinking and talking about such concerns with students.
Using the simulation as a base, I can see opportunity for lots of discussion and further deabte. Even if you consider the claims of CO2 emissions and global warming are over-rated, the simulation provides a prompt for exploration about the validity of such claims, further investigation of the data and its reliability etc.
In my mind this is one of the things that technology does well – processing large amounts of data and representing it visually in ways that allow for us to engage with complex issues and ideas more easily. Roll on the day when such representations are generated from real-time data collection and aren’t dependent on modelling based on already out-of-date data that has been gathered elsewhere 🙂