I’m a sucker for a cool map, so I was fascinated by a depiction I saw used recently by John Barrett of Stockholm Environment Institute. It’s a cartogram version of the world map, using exports of toys as the determinant of size rather than landmass. Check it out.


SEI - barrett - toy exports

The world of toy exports is clearly dominated by China with bit parts played by Taiwan, southeast Asia, India, and Mexico. But it’s just the opposite for when one uses the import of toys as the determinant of country size.


SEI - barrett - toy imports

No surprise, it’s the United States that’s the heavyweight importer of toys with a showing by western Europe, Australia, and a handful of other places.

Of course, there’s a lesson in these maps that goes beyond the neat-o shapes and colors. Barrett’s point—and it’s a good one—is that the world’s economically developed nations have bigger carbon footprints than a mere geographic inventory would suggest. Carbon-intensive industries like manufacturing now often occur offshore, in less developed countries, which can mask the true carbon impact of the world’s wealthiest consumers.

Both images appear courtesy of John Barrett, Stockholm Environment Institute.