Archive for October 19th, 2008

October 19, 2008

Visualizing (and Animating) Excess

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Every now and then you hear completely unbelievable facts about our consumer culture in America.  Facts like, “US consumption of plastic bottles reached 30 billion per year in 2005 and only 12% were recycled” or “four million cups are used on American airline flights every day.”  

Its hard to put a logical grasp around the dizzying meaning behind such statements because they involve numbers large enough to terrify even number-loving accountants and math teachers.  Like so many statistics they exist in a scale-less world where meaning gets lost in the sheer enormity of the numbers involved.

And every now and then you come across visualizations and animations that beautifully demonstrate these facts in actual comprehensible visuals.  Check out the YouTube video above for a truly shocking animation on the reality of plastic bottle recycling. 

When you’ve digested that, mosey on over to the always fantastic TED page to listen to Chris Jordan explain his artistic work that sheds a very revealing focus on the incredible excess of what he calls unconscious behaviors that culminate into catastrophic proportions

Recycling is often pushed aside as a passe phrase in the overall realm of green living and conservation messages.  But unfortunately, as these visuals confirm, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to reduce our culture’s environmental footprints upon the wild.