Saturday, October 5, 2019

I Need to Work on Visualizations

The numbers in this graphic showing just how important it is for cities in the US to be banning straws seem to line up with numbers I used in article on the subject back in July of '18, but I'm sure the graphics will be more useful to more people than just numbers.  The vivid visualization or the right visual meme has a bigger impact than plain numbers do.

The bottom line is that straws from the US constitute 0.004% of 0.9% of the world's plastic pollution.  Which is only 360 parts per billion, and this fact is easier to see in those pictures than  just by using words. 

The problem is how many significant figures are really there.  I bet the only remotely accurate part of that data is the figures associated with the US and Europe (under "other",  I assume).  The amount of straws in the waste stream is highly suspicious.  That number appears to come down to one science project done by a 10 year old kid in 2011.  The kid called a straw manufacturer (or a couple) and came up with the quote “500 million straws used daily … many end up in oceans,” which is used by everyone as if it were known as precisely as a physical constant like the speed of light.  I'd be surprised if those percentages of plastic contribution by continent was accurate to three decimal places.  Which is saying any changes to the world totals from a US ban aren't even a rounding error. 

I believe I found the graphic on the Daily Timewaster at some point this week.


  1. Facts.....inconvenient facts. TOTALLY irrelevant to the greenie morons and the control addicted left.

  2. Yeah, it's amazing. And people just break down mentally when you tell them that - they want to blame someone. They want to blame someone here. They want to blame someone that isn't them. It's . . . people on the Right who use straws!

    Because blaming people in other countries . . . is simply not tolerant or diverse.

  3. Very few people are moved by logic and facts. Emotions sway the masses.

  4. The garbage situation is really messy (pun intended). In the past, China used to buy a lot of American garbage. Therefore, the statistics were skewed because Chinese dumping in the ocean included American garbage. A couple of years ago China stopped buying American garbage. Now municipalities across the U.S. are scrambling to get rid of their garbage. The price of recyclables has dropped precipitously. Some big Chinese companies have opened factories here in United States because they depend on recycled plastics that are no longer available in China. So statistics like those you're quoting need a lot of interpretation because they depend on what year they were gathered.

    That being said, U.S. policies on dumping in the ocean are, I am sure, much stricter than the ChiCom's so I think your main point is valid. The U.S. contribution to plastic waste is a small fraction of the world's dumping and plastic straws are minuscule fraction of that. But be careful about the numbers.

  5. Rush described the acts of the left in situations like this as

    Symbolism over Substance.

    The US is not the problem but, we must sacrifice at the altar of environmentalism (the Church of Gore) to atone for the sins of the rest of the world.

    Makes no sense in any way but the left wing politicians who advocate the atonement of the US people seem to feel better when they get their way.

    A hundred years from now the historians of the future will look back at this era and chuckle at how stupid and superficial the democrats were.

    1. Glenda, you're an optimist.

      The other way of seeing your last sentence is that a hundred years from now, leftists will be analyzing their histories, figuring out where they went wrong and how to push for more.

      Maybe two weeks ago, I heard Rush trying to make a leftist caller understand that the total amount that the US contributes to "the plastics problem" is so small as to be undetectable and he just could not get through to the guy. No matter what numbers he tossed around (and like most people talking off the top of his head, couldn't rattle off that 360 parts per billion number), the guy just couldn't/wouldn't see it makes no difference. To him, one less straw in the world is different.