The deeper meaning of EVERY data


Maybe is that we must learn to “get” data.

There is a post at the Free Range Activism Website about the “deeper meaning buried in the data on carbon emissions” that analyzes and visualizes those data with charts like this:

The deeper meaning of EVERY data /img/carbon_change.jpg

to conclude that, if human societies must replace fossil fuels:

  • Simply changing energy sources is insufficient - We must directly cut energy use significantly at the same time
  • The deeper truth in the data is that “Recession is good for the environment!”
  • Only by shrinking the economy, to contract the ecological demands of the modern lifestyle, will we solve these critical problems

Sure, but let’s talk numeracy

In 2022, practically everybody does know for sure that “recession is good for the environment”, if nothing else because COVID-19 made THAT point very clearly.

The real topic of this post, however, is not pollution, growth, degrowth or climate change. Whatever you think of those issues, please focus on this other quote of THAT post now:

“Too often people look at statistics and just see the “magnitude” of the numbers, not the “meaning” that those numbers convey. [Indeed] a simple graph can show far more than just the raw numbers for carbon emissions.”

“The purpose… is not to quote you the awful figures on carbon emissions from fossil fuels. It’s to tell you the detail, or the reality, that is too often left unstated when quoting numbers – and how the data show that.”

The same concept, may be expressed in simpler English by saying that learning how to recognize good charts on whatever subject:

  1. is NOT rocket science
  2. has already become an absolutely necessary basic skill in the current world
  3. is stuff that could and should be taught in every school, probably around 1112 years of age, almost surely not later than 14. Even before programming, probably

So, do go read that whole post to see how it is possible to “reformat” any chart to explain much better what it means, and why it is so important.

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