Monday, August 24, 2009

Eliminating the Bottom 5%

Strange Maps:

How would you eliminate almost half the planet by subtracting just 5% from it? This map shows you how: delete the countries that constitute the bottom 5% of global GDP contributors, and you scrap almost 3 billion people from the equation. Those people mainly live in Africa and South East Asia, as demonstrated by the disappearance of those areas beneath the waves.

This map was first shown on the political website FiveThirtyEight (”Politics done right”), in reaction to an argument that climate change would affect global GDP by “only” 5% over the next 100 years. Quite rightly, the point was raised that a reduction in potential GDP might not be an adequate measure of the human impact of such society-shattering change.

As per-capita GDP varies across the world’s countries by a factor of 800 (or 2,000 if you count Zimbabwe), this is a rather cynical (or at least cold-hearted) way of measuring the worth of human lives, making the average Rwandan life hundreds of times less important than that of the average Luxembourger.

To demonstrate the impact of a reduction of global GDP by a mere 5%, FiveThirtyEight erased the countries constituting the bottom 5% of global GDP (IMF estimates for 2008), in reverse order of magnitude:

Zimbabwe (1), Burundi, DR Congo, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Malawi, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Afghanistan, Togo, Guinea, Uganda, Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), Rwanda, Mozambique, East Timor, the Gambia (2), Bangladesh, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Lesotho, Ghana, Haiti, Tajikistan, the Comoros, Cambodia, Laos, Benin, Kenya, Chad, the Solomon Islands, Kyrgyzstan, India (3), Nicaragua, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Mauritania, Pakistan, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Ivory Coast, Zambia, the Yemen, Cameroon, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nigeria (4), Guyana, the Sudan, Bolivia, Moldova, Honduras, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Bhutan, Egypt (5), Vanuatu, Tonga, Paraguay, Morocco, Syria, Swaziland, Samoa, Guatemala, Georgia, the Congo, Iraq, Armenia, Jordan, Cape Verde, the Maldives, Fiji and Namibia (6).

All in all 81 countries (almost half of the 192 UN member states), representing nearly 2.9 billion people (about 43%) of the world population. But still, a mere 5% of world GDP…

Here is the original post on FiveThirtyEight which includes this map highlighting the countries that were eliminated.

1 comment:

thinking said...

Many Christians, and I am sure many people of other religions as well, are making a moral case for tackling climate change, on these precise grounds: that the poor in the world are those most affected.

I can hardly believe that there was a time when I listened to people like Rush Limbaugh ridicule the concept of global warming and say ridiculous things like glorifying large size SUV's. Of course these far right wing commentators are fabulously wealthy, especially Limbaugh, and really have no connection with these realities.