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Thanks for posting this. And yes indeed, comparison between "Per Capita" and "Total" for a selected country is not always possible. So, quickly put your idea into practice, which one can view as Image here or download as PDF.

Bernard Lebelle

I've seen a similar graph earlier this summer in the New York Times on music sales per type of media storage (LPs, cassette, CD..).

It can be viewed here : http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/08/01/opinion/01blow.ready.html

Kaiser, I agree with you on the major drawback of having an accurate perception of the eovlution trend for a given element. I've tried to replicate it a business contexte but this led to more confusion than good.


Worth mentioning: Not only does it aid with composition but arranging the plots alphabetically also helps you to find specific countries' data easily.


For obvious reasons, data from Ukraine and Russian Federation and so on starts from nothing at around 1990 (and makes up quite a large chunk, particularly for the 'Total CO2 Emissions' side) leaving me to wonder what happened before then? There is no USSR/CCCP entry and 'Other' isn't huge before and suddenly shrinks after 1990 to compensate. It would be interesting to compare with China, for instance, as a similar communist state. I guess this kind of graph must help to show up such missing data?


Concerning data from "before 1990"... Data for that period do exist. But the graph lists only "official" countries. For some countries, interpolations (Czechoslovakia) can be done based on their share of population, presuming that the live standard (private, industry) was similar. But for the USSR with their many sub-states, this is hardly realistic.


One correction: "Colors are chosen to help readers shift left and right between the per capita data and the aggregate data." Colors represent actually the regions. Red for Asia & Pacific, Yellow for Africa etc.


I like this chart. Inkblots are different but very effective in the comparison sense.


One can now produce these graphs dynamically within the UNEP GEO Data Portal. Just select a variable of your choice and browse to the graph module, select the "Trends" option, and off you go. Here is an example.

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Kaiser Fung. Business analytics and data visualization expert. Author and Speaker.
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