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.
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.
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.
Hmmmmm. I dunno’, Eric. Let’s remember that low production costs makes toy ‘consumption’ on that scale possible, and that China has had a national policy of keeping the remnimbi weak in order to foster a strong export industry. Without that policy, toys would be more expensive, and purchases lower. How much lower, I’m not qualified to say. But they would be lower. So is the US to blame for this flood of toys? Or is China? Whose emissions are they?The answer, of course, is that they are all of ours. We hold joint responsibility for the economic system that makes this flood of toys, and in fact all imports, possible. (OPEC manages oil production to keep the price in their desired ‘sweet spot.’) So I am not shirking responsibility here. But I refuse to accept SOLE responsibility.
King County, in partnership with the City of Seattle and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, is starting a new project related to the issues raised in this post:http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/dnrp/newsroom/newsreleases/2010/april/0420Greenhouse-gas.aspx