Posts tagged climate change

In the (word) clouds

I’m always on the lookout for better ways to visualize data and information.  My hard drive has an endless supply of Excel spreadsheets, replete with myriad charts, graphs, and projections.  But unless you’re a data-driven person (read:nerd) like me, the previous sentence is enough to put you to sleep.  So this morning I thought to myself, “I wonder what other things I can try to make visually appealing.”

So, that led me to…word clouds! A word cloud is essentially a word count of a document, where the relative size of the words indicate how often they are repeated.  The larger the word, the more times it was repeated in the document.  Below are word clouds from various climate action plans (in order, Hollins, E&H, Lynchburg College, Washington & Lee University, and University of Richmond).

There’s nothing too unexpected here.  The first two clouds show a focus on carbon, emissions, and campus.  As you get further down in the list, words like sustainability and environmental start to get larger.  This could reflect different organizational priorities, or it could simply be a result of differing writing styles.  Nonetheless, it’s a fun and easy way to quickly compare a few schools’ climate change aspirations.

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It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility

The recent extreme weather events have gotten me thinking about climate change, which I don’t frequently discuss here. Climate scientists are saying that what we’ve been experiencing is a preview of what the future might hold for our weather patterns. Note that the wildfires and heat waves aren’t being directly linked to climate change, because climate and weather are two separate concepts.  This is merely a preview of possible future weather events that will become more common as the planet warms.

If you’re not up to speed on the topic of climate change, I’d recommend going here  first.  If you’re not in a reading mood, then start with this video, which is a pretty good overview of most of the pertinent issues.  The facts are pretty consistent, though.  Anthropogenic climate change is real, and we will see the consequences in the coming decades.

This great article has reminded me that skirting the issue only serves to prolong a debate that has been scientifically settled for some time.  A recent study backs this up, reporting that in the past few years the concern about climate change has waned.  And of course, the venerable James Hansen has a similar opinion.

Now that you’re thoroughly informed (and maybe a little sad),  and because I haven’t posted a single polar bear-related video since starting this blog, here is a terribly sad one about melting polar ice (with a little Radiohead and Jude Law on the side).

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