Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

China’s Greenhouse Gas Surge: A Climate Challenge

China’s Greenhouse Gas Surge: A Climate Challenge

Addressing the global challenge of greenhouse gas emissions is imperative, with gases like CO2, CH4, and N2O significantly impacting our environment. These gas trap heat, contributing to global warming and climate change, with consequences extending to poor air quality, health issues, and disruptions in temperature and precipitation patterns.

Why address the issue in China specifically?

The focus on China is crucial as it plays a pivotal role in this challenge, contributing 27% of global CO2 emissions and one-third of the world’s greenhouse gases. These compelling statistics, sourced from a recent World Bank report, emphasize the urgency of recognizing and addressing China’s role. Crafting effective global strategies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions requires a nuanced understanding of China’s significant impact on this critical issue.



The below line chart illustrates China’s greenhouse gas emissions in kilotons of CO2 equivalent from 2005 to 2020. The graph depicts a consistent upward trend, starting at nearly 7.3 million kt in 2005 and reaching 13 million kt in 2020


The following map offers a comparative analysis of greenhouse gas emissions between China and other nations in 2020. The stark contrast is evident, with China recording almost 13 million kt, while Russia stands at 2.3 million kt, Brazil at 1.6 million kt, the USA at 5.5 million kt, and Canada at 6.7 million kt. These figures underscore the alarming magnitude of the issue emanating from China.

Contributing Factors to China’s Environmental Impact:

1) China as Global Manufacturer: As the world’s largest manufacturer, China’s robust industry and escalating energy demand significantly contribute to emissions. Fossil fuel combustion for energy production and manufacturing processes plays a central role in the nation’s substantial carbon footprint.

2) Agricultural Impact: Methane emissions from livestock and rice paddies contribute significantly to the intricate landscape of greenhouse gas sources.

3) Urbanization and Infrastructure Development: The construction and operation of buildings, roads, and transportation systems play a role in the environmental challenge.

4) Consumption Patterns: China’s growing middle class and consumer culture contribute to increased demand for goods, impacting production-related emissions.
The lifestyle choices and consumption patterns of the population contribute to the overall carbon footprint.

Comprehensive Solutions for a Sustainable Future:

1) Renewable Energy Transition: Transitioning to renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, is crucial for reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating emissions.

2) Energy Efficiency Measures: Implementing energy-efficient technologies across industries minimizes emissions in transportation, manufacturing, and construction.

3) Circular Economy Practices: Encouraging a circular economy reduces waste and promotes the reuse and recycling of materials, fostering sustainability.

4) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Investing in CCS technologies captures and stores carbon emissions from industries, playing a key role in emission reduction.

5) Global Collaboration: Collaborating globally on research and technology sharing strengthens efforts to combat climate change effectively.

Final Thoughts:

The urgency to address this challenge is not just a national responsibility but a global imperative. By adopting sustainable practices, embracing clean technologies, and fostering international collaboration, we can collectively steer the trajectory towards a more environmentally resilient future.

Equality For Tomorrow

Equality For Tomorrow

Team: Jana Chazbeck, Olguinia El Ferzli, Josephine Kaadou, Haydar Hamdan and Rawane Ibrahim.

Note that you can watch the videos here if you faced any technical or connections issues while visiting the website:
Reinvented toilets video:
Volunteers video:
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Renewable energy production: Earth saver.

Air Pollution and Carbon Dioxide emissions:

“Most air pollution comes from energy use and production,” says John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project which is part of the Climate and Clean Energy program at the National Resources Defense Council. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that each year, air pollution is the major cause of the death of nearly seven million people on Earth. Air pollution has several causes such as:

  • Burning fossil fuels
  • Industrial emissions
  • Wildfires
  • CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it is estimated that deaths due to the devastated air quality will continue to rise till 2100 and the economic value of the health benefits was estimated to be between $50 and $380 for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

Ever since the industrial revolution, there was an outbreak of industries in all fields ranging from mechanical production to electrical to technical. All these productions relied mostly on heavy machinery that in fact, combusted energy sources (such as fuel, oil, diesel…) and in a complex series of chemical reactions, released gases.  One of those gases is Carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 by itself is not bad because it is a needed chemical in nature. However, CO2 levels in the air have been increasing drastically to the point that they have become one of the major sources in air pollution, according to MDPI.

Carbon Dioxide from electricity production:

According to the World Nuclear Association, almost 40% of the energy-related CO2 emissions are due to burning of the fossil fuels for electricity production. Because a huge part of electricity production depends on burning fuels, there will be a mass of CO2 emitted to the air. This in turn leads to high CO2 emissions, especially from the countries that depend completely on burning fuels to produce electricity. The visuals below demonstrate and prove that the regions that had the highest CO2 emissions from electricity and heat production in 2014 tended to have the highest air pollution rates. The Carbon dioxide emission rates were highest in the middle east, east Africa and east Asia compared to the low numbers of North America and Europe. The same former countries had the highest air pollution rates (PM2.5) compared to the latter. Therefore, we can conclude that the higher the dependency on fuel combustion for energy production, the higher the CO2 emission rates, the higher the air pollution rates. On the long run, this can have devastating effects on the nature, climate and humans.

What can be done?

After governments realized the devastating effects of the gaseous emissions on the air quality and on humans in general, several attempts were done, such as awareness programs among the youth, restrictive laws and advertising. However, these attempts tackled the tip of the iceberg of the problem. A solution is needed to solve the problem deep from within the roots, to prevent it from happening in the first place. Producing energy from renewables could be a potential solution. The most common renewable power technologies are through Solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, low-impact hydroelectricity and biomass. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, generating energy from renewable sources reduces air pollution, diversifies energy supply and creates economic development.

To reduce the gaseous emissions and air pollution, several countries tried to develop their technological and scientific knowledge of renewable energy production as saw a promise in using renewables, that could one day, be substituted for fuel combustion to produce energy. In fact, developed countries such as USA and the EU countries took serious initiatives to use renewable energy production. The below figures show that countries that increased their electrical energy production from renewable sources over the time period of 2005-2014 had the least air pollution rates in 2014. The EU countries and North America had the highest dependency on using renewables to produce electricity compared to the middle east, east Africa and east Asia and the former regions in turn had air pollution rates that are much lower.

Renewable energy production, therefore, is a clean energy source that can reduce Carbon dioxide emissions and in turn lead to a better, sustainable and a healthy planet that has a rich and high air quality.

Patronage Systems in Rentier States

Patronage Systems in Rentier States

“It is the devil’s excrement. We are drowning in the devil’s excrement. —Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, former Venezuelan oil minister”

The narrative fifty years ago
A country discovers vast amounts of oil reserves. Leaders across the world are green with envy.

The underlying assumption
Profits generated from exporting this natural resource, commonly referred to as black gold, transforms a nation from rags to riches.

The narrative today
Rentier states are war-torn, corrupt, and led by dictators whose power is fueled by the sale of this precious commodity.The Oil Curse By Michael L. Ross

I invite you to read Michael Lewin Ross’ “The Oil Curse”. An excellent resource for those who want to understand why such a valuable commodity leaves its owners worse off than their counterparts.

Take Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Two neighboring countries. Both rich in natural resources. One destroyed by war and conflict. Another a model for quality of life, political stability, and investment. Why are they so different?

The dependencies oil creates on an economy can be catastrophic in the sense that they create patronage systems between the state and its citizens, making it increasingly more difficult to create sustainable economies over time.

How? The notion that a state is responsible for extracting and selling oil to benefit the country is flawed. Upon exporting oil, Iraq has employed more and more government employees to “pay” its citizens what it owes. The creation of these governmental positions, most of which are redundant in nature, has caused high levels of bureaucracy within each governmental body, making it increasingly more difficult for businesses and start-ups to get their businesses off the ground. Iraq ranks 172nd in the World Bank “Ease of Business” scale. It takes 51 days to register property. It also takes 167 days to deal with construction paperwork and permits. This has had detrimental effects on other industries in Iraq. Iraq’s predominant reliance on oil revenue, coined with electricity shortages, a suffering educational and healthcare system, and an unstable geopolitical climate, makes it increasingly more difficult to wean the average citizen off governmental positions and rations and encourage them to work in the private sector.

In comparison, the UAE ranks 16th on the “Ease of Business” scale, and it takes 1.5 days on average to register property. It also takes 47.5 days to get construction permits, nearly a third of how long it takes in Iraq. Their government expenditure levels are half of what Iraq’s are, whereas the average worker’s productivity value is nearly double.



Where do we go from here? For starters, digitalizing the public sector, something that is already underway in the Kurdistan Region, albeit off to a slow start, can help lower redundant employment positions, all while increasing productivity levels. A digital transformation will also pave the way for a simpler business start-up registration process, making it easier for entrepreneurs and businesses to take off, attract foreign investment, and grow the private sector.

Another solution, which in my opinion is a byproduct of digital transformation of government processes, is the expansion of the private sector. Unless the average citizen acknowledges the dependency oil creates on the economy, and the finite (and frankly, volatile) nature of this resource, Iraq will not be better off than it is today.

Banks Non-Performing Loans to Total Gross Loans in the US (2009-2019)

Banks Non-Performing Loans to Total Gross Loans in the US (2009-2019)

The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

It wasn’t too long ago that Wallstreet was on the roll, but in reality, that growth was fueled by careless risk takings by the big banks. In the early 2000’s, the Federal Reserve heavily lowered the Fed Fund Rate, thus, cheap credit and NLPs (nonperforming loans) started taking place, allowing many consumers to borrow far more than they could afford. To understand what happened, we need to go just a few years back.

Let’s say you were a home buyer at the height of the market. Before you could get the house keys, you would have had to fill out a pretty big stack of mostly unintelligible mortgage documents from a big bank. This mortgage is essentially a debt note for the cost of the house. Now  you might think that your bank would just put that debt note in a safe place while you went about making your monthly payments. But instead, that debt note took a little detour. Those loans got sold to other investors, which made big banks lose all incentives to avoid risks.

And as often happens when gamblers play with  other people’s money, or money they don’t have, the big banks bet big, and lost big. And since the banks were so big, the entire economy got affected when they lost. Interest rates started rising back again, many subprime borrowers could not afford the higher rate as a result, millions went unemployed, small businesses couldn’t get credit, and the middle class got squeezed.

That brings us back to your nice new home. If you lost your job, you couldn’t make your mortgage payments. Worse, because of falling home values, you wouldn’t be able to sell it either without taking a big loss; putting you at risk of foreclosure by the big bank.

How did it end?

Wallstreet’s risky behavior had to be stopped. That was the purpose of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010).

The Act worked on preventing  Predatory Mortgage Lending by:

  • Restricting some of the riskier activities of the biggest banks
  • Increasing government insight of banks activities
  • Forcing banks to maintain larger cash reserves

After the Dodd-Frank act, the percentage of nonperforming loans (NPL) to total gross loans started decreasing (Data Source: WDI).

Banks have been prevented from growing so large that they put the entire economy at risk if they were to fail. And if some financial firm still gets itself in trouble, despite the strong regulations, it will get shut down. No more bailouts.