09 March 2015

Hans Rosling clarifies world demographics


I have featured Hans Rosling on a number of previous posts at TYWKIWDBI because I truly admire his style of presentation.  The best hours of my academic life were spent behind or beside the podium in front of an classroom full of students, so I'm supersensitive to the nuances of lecturing.  This guy has all the skills.  He is recognized as a wizard at portraying otherwise-dry statistics in comprehensible visual forms (see his superb TED talk on the developing world).  In addition his stage presence is captivating, and his use of English (as a second language) is excellent.

I'm not blogging today, but I wanted to put this up for you.  I know everyone's life these days is one continuous TL;DR, but take my word for it, if you are interested in the world beyond your doorstep, this video is worth 15 minutes of your time.  Or at least the first five, and then see if you can stop.

7 comments:

  1. Brilliant lecture style and content as well. I only knew one of the answers to the questions.

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  2. He really is an amazing lecturer. His TED talk is one of my favorites. His time lapse population graph is phenomenal.

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    1. Firstly he es a little too assertive about predictions.

      Secondly I also used the technique of first demonstrating how little people understand, with a kind of test, then explaining them how it really works, but I find it requires a very authoritative style and appearance. Maybe educating someone isn't possible without offending or embarrassing, which is why media rather confirm our preconceived notions rather than actually inform and educate us.

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  3. This was the best thing I've seen in a few weeks!
    Thanks for sharing and for smashing some of my ignorant misconceptions!

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  4. I am big BIG Rosling fan. I think all of his presentations should be required in our schools. If not BY him, then by someone using the same facts.

    And where does he get his facts?

    All of his facts on his Gapminder graphs (free download) are from the official statistics of each country. He isn't inventing any of it. He is only presenting what is real.

    The amazing things he points out are the vast increase in life expectancy and the great drop in births per woman. Mexico has a birth rate nearly as low as the USA. Even with the Catholic church's huge influence in Mexico (the world's most Catholic nation in simple numbers). But women in Mexico discovered the Pill a long time ago, and they have basically been telling the Pope to shove it, because they can SEE the benefits of smaller families. And it is not just Mexico, not at all.

    What Rosling does by giving us the REAL facts is to allow us all to actually think the world is getting more sane, and that some of the big problems ARE being solved. We are given some hope that the world ISN'T going to hell in a handbasket.

    (Sorry for the editorial, but...) Now we only need to get people to learn about their misconceptions regarding global warming, which is happening at a much smaller rate than the headlines would have us believe and which is NOT solely due to CO2. The warming we have seen is from a multitude of factors - the "urban heat island effect" skewing the temperature averages, climate variability that is begin recognized as cyclical, and the world coming out of the Little Ice Age which ended in about 1820. Yes, the world warms as it comes out of cold periods; no DUH. And the further we get out of that cold period, the warmer the planet; it doesn't take rocket scientists to see that. CO2 is a very minor player.

    A quick quiz (don't peek below) - What percentage of the atmosphere is CO2?
    A. 14%
    B. 4%
    C. 1%
    D. 0.4%
    E. 0.04%
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The answer is E, 0.04%.

    400 parts per million.

    99.96% of the atmosphere is NOT CO2.

    In 1900 the answer was about 0.03%.

    At that time 99.97% of the atmosphere was NOT CO2.

    So the non-CO2 portion of the atmosphere has changed from 99.97% to 99.96%. Can any of us tell the difference?

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    1. Even as a chemist it took me a while to understand why CO2 is such a trouble maker. The underlying principles of interaction between gas and (heat) IR radiation is straight up quantum mechanics. CO2 because of this molecules geometry happens to absorb various frequency bands of infrared. Now water vapor is somewhat similarly shaped and also absorbs a lot of heat, but unlike CO2 it actually eliminated from the atmosphere as rain, snow or dew, as soon as the concentration reaches a certain level, whereas CO2 isn't eliminated by weather it can only be absorbed by plants.
      You might say that CO2 concentration is still really small compared to H2O in air, which can reach up to 5% in a very hot and humid climate, but the same isn't true for the atmosphere at large which is generally too cold for water, clouds don't get that high up where it's cold.

      Water has a percentage in air that is fixed and rather small, but it completely makes weather, climate, life etc. Small percentage - big importance. The percentage is fixed by an equilibrium. CO2 or other greenhouse gases aren't affected by temperature as much as water is.
      If only we could make it rain dry ice, charcoal or limestone, our climate troubles would be over.

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    2. So, 33% increase of a potent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere over a 100 year time period, by your own estimation.

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