Friday, November 21, 2008

Quality of Life

For quick access to general maps and basic facts, try the CIAO database (Columbia International Affairs Online). On the left you'll see a link to "maps/county data." From here you can find basic statistics like a nation's GDP, its military expenditure, death rate, and population. You can also compare the statistics of up to three countries. (All stats from from the CIA World Factbook.)

If you really want to study a nation's statistics in depth, head to This constantly updated site takes data from various governments and NGO's (e.g. UN, WHO, OECD) and makes them available in comparable bar graphs, pie charts, and maps. Note that this is a private site with advertisements. A wide variety of likely and unlikely stats, like: working time to buy a car, age at first marriage for women, roller coasters per capita.
Source and definitions are available for each data set. From the homepage to get started, choose "Select Category" under Facts and Statistics. Note that you can generally choose to compare a "total" or a "per capita" statistic. You can also see correlations between statistics, (e.g. the inverse relationship between the number of McDonalds restaurants per capita and the number of couples with children) but remember: correlation does not necessarily mean that one trend causes another.

Human Development Index.
The U.N. pubishes each year a Human Development Index. Rather than traditional economic figures like GNP, it tries to assess the quality of life for a nation using factors like life expectancy, literacy, and education. See Wikipedia's page describing the index's formula and this year's rankings at:

The Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index measures, among other factors, a nation's ecological impact.
"People can live long, happy lives without consuming large amounts of the Earth's resources, a survey suggests. The 178-nation "Happy Planet Index" lists the south Pacific island of Vanuatu as the happiest nation on the planet, while the UK is ranked 108th. The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP. The study was compiled by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (Nef)." --from the BBC
The full BBC article is located here:
The Happy Planet Index is located here:

GapMinder provides free very cool software to visualize nation statistics.
"...Gapminder, a Stockholm-based non-profit. Their extraordinary interactive graphs help you visualize complex global trends -- like the distribution of poverty, in different regions of the world, over time. The raw statistics would bore you to tears; the web graphs -- dynamic, colorful and clear -- are utterly compelling. They're worth a look -- not only for their particular content -- but for the possibilities presented by this marriage of technology, information and design. --June Cohen, TedBlog, 2005

Available at:

Confused by all the acronyms? This glossary, provided by World Bank, might help you out:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Current Events / Election 2008

From Ms. Rossler:
"At least 1 Friday every month class time will be devoted to a current events topic (The Iraq war, global terror, global warming, etc.). On the Monday of that week I will tell you the topic we are going to discuss on Friday and your job is to come to class on Friday prepared with notes that address the following three points of the issue. Until Election Day (November 4th), most of our Current Events Fridays (CEF) will relate to the U.S. presidential race, focusing predominantly on foreign policy issues. In what ways will this presidential race impact people and conflicts worldwide?"

for 9/26/08:
The presidential candidates are supposed to have their first debate tonight on foreign policy (which is currently up in the air). I would like you to research the current international issues, polling data, and other relevant information about the candidates to write 5-7 questions for each candidate you would like them to answer during tonight's debate.

At the end of class we will discuss your questions and why their answers are important. Additionally, if you watch the debate and write a reflection (did the candidate's answer your questions? did they respond to questions in ways you expected or surprised you?) you will earn extra credit.

Suggested Resources:

* The New York Times:

* CNN:

* The Washington Post:

* Google News Search:

*—news and views from media around the world:

* BBC news:



* InfoTrac's database of over 900 newspapers, both national and international. Available through the HS Library's page and at:

* and RealClearPolitics--a good site for polling information:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Researching Sustainability in Corporations
Consumer Reports' "Web-based initiative to inform, engage, and empower consumers about environmentally-friendly products and practices. offers an accessible, reliable, and practical source of information on buying 'greener' products that have minimal environmental impact and meet personal needs."
"This official website for ACEEE's Green Book is a unique consumer resource providing Green Scores rating the environmental friendliness of every vehicle on market." Note that only some ratings are available via the website. The rest are only available through the book.

Six Sins of Greenwashing (green'wash', -wôsh') – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Business Week article on Greenwashing
"Use this page to find substantive links to conventional energy sources, as well as new and renewable energy." From Dallas High School.