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Energy consumption and production by the US and China between 1990 - 2009

Problem Domain

China and USA have dominated the global economy for over the past 30 years. This has been indicated by a dramatic hike in their terawatt-hour units of energy consumed and produced by their respective countries when compared to the rest of the world. Both countries have even accomplished double digit growth rates where resultant factor has been the rise in emission of fossil fuels and carbon unto the atmosphere followed by rapid climate change. To further exacerbate the problem, China and WE have sealed trade agreement that ensure that they “husband and wife relationship” maintain their economic dominance. Strategically the US is the major the consumer of Chinese products, while the Chinese is the ever-prevailing producer of most US goods.

However, there is no way of directly holding US and China accountable for the volumes of pollution they release to the atmosphere. When it comes to finding a clear solution to a cleaner, greener way of living, both countries have had nothing solid to offer as a solution. This is especially disturbing as China and the US possess the kind of capital required to initiate the much needed grand scale green initiative. Up till now, the international community continues to seek a solution for climate change from the all countries, without isolating the main perpetrators. While this happens, or does not happen, the global village fights all humanitarian crises born from the change in its climate.

Proposed Solution

The Voyager provides as a solution an application which exposes energy consumption and production from all countries and continents for over the past 19 years.  In addition the application will use visual semantics to enable end users to keep track of the relative size of each country’s or continent’s carbon footprint. From a distance, the application should visualize the information in such a way that it is possible to know the source of carbon emission without delving into detail.  The application will perform a filtering function where it normalises the units of measure from the actual terawatt per hour figures to map percentage of energy consumption and production from each country

Another important function will be the search function, where logical expression can be used to query specific data. Here, the user will be able to filter each search with relation operators to refine the results according to the user’s needs i.e. less than x, greater or equal. This allows moving from an overall holistic picture of global energy and drill down to a much more granular view that may show a country’s figure per year in relation to another.

These tools will allow the users to momentarily identify the problem makers and then formulate a climate saving response in accordance to the relative consumption and production of each country.  The visualisation show help ordinary citizens see for themselves what the state of affairs is so they may understand the stance taken by their policy makers on climate change. To illustrate the process of thinking followed to formulate this solution, a storyboard designed.

Literature Review

The NameVoyager, a web-based visualization of historical trends in baby naming, has been another application of the Voyager. NameVoyager uses a graph that sums all the time series. It uses the same interactive techniques for smooth visual exploration of thousands of time series. The NameVoyager follows overview first, zoom and filter details on demand. The viewer sees a set of stripes representing all names in the database. Filtering this data is achieved via an extremely simple mechanism.

To learn details of a name, a viewer can use the mouse. Hovering over a name stripe will produce a pop-up box with numerical details for a given name at a given point in time. Clicking on a name stripe produces a graph of the popularity of that name alone. This interaction technique may be compared to dynamic query systems such as or TimeSearcher and Job Voyager.


Related article by Wattenberg, M - Baby Names, Visualization, and Social Data Analysis

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Final Report  

Hypothesis for the problem

The current model used by the international bodies to regulate global climate change is ineffective, unsustainable and unjust. With the data visualised we are able to gather enough data to introduce the following premises that can reject or accept this hypothesis.


Ineffective - The greening of the globe is an expensive, long-winded journey that threatens the existence of established corporate US and China. It questions the fundamental principles that of profits, revenue and growth. It re-established the definition of public goods – air, water, and animal species.  The causes of climate change are known and clearly directly proportional to the volumes amount of energy, fuel that is generated while conducting the activities of global business.

The pie chart depicted in the storyboard show that US and China have enjoyed bountiful growth levels have added the push-pull factor. The levels of their consumption and productive capacity are so great, that may even distort the real picture of just how much each continent consume and produce. This argument has been overlooked by the UN, the IMF, the G5/8/13/25 summit and other regulatory bodies which exist to achieve sound international governance. The interactive representation of the global share of energy in our application is the solid line graphs. It enables one to interactively select the country on wishes to analyse by hovering the mouse onto it or clicking on it.


All peoples are born citizens of the global village and have the right to a living. Currently that living is under threat. It is the low polluting countries that suffer most when the climate reacts to the effect of high consumption and production of energy.  There is no international tribunal that persecutes or fines multinational US and Chinese companies for their pollution.

The Voyager visualization tool shows are able to graph energy levels of all countries from 1995 to 2009. It displays the percentage both energy consumption and production. This instantaneously indicates to the user the perpetrating countries by continent. Pink and blue were used to distinguish between energy consumption and energy production, while pick and blue shades assigned to countries. The design of this application includes filters, by which one can illuminate either gender or crime type. Climate change does not discriminate. Even if Nigeria pollutes far less than Chinese, they are not exempt from the natural effects of other giant polluters. That is unjust


The Voyager also shows that in 1990, China consumed only 3% of the world energy. 19 years later, that figure has jumped to 20%. This is despise their vast population been having stabilized within the past 5 years. Clearly, this pattern is not sustainable. There needs to be a way to curb these levels of growth. With the visualisation tool, it makes it possible to clearly see this, and take correction against it.


With the functionality of zooming into each country data and zooming out to global data, the user can judge the effectiveness of local global green initiatives. They can compare and predict the effectiveness their governments green strategies to data that is used to design those strategies. Also data is represented historically from 1990-2009. This 19-year time span of data helps to visualize the change over time and helps predict what the expected change over time will be if energy levels are not controlled. For developing countries that are becoming more active in international markets, they can use the tool to monitor themselves and find new ways making and using energy to as to break the downward spiral of climate change.

Future improvements

Future development would be to pay more attention to visual aesthetics. There are many ways in which variation in colour, form and texture can hint towards possible debatable aspects of the visualization that would have been more attractive that the shade of pink and blue. It would also be desirable for the visualization to automatically compile statistics about the energy levels and their change over time.

Sample Screen Shot


Team Contribution

Neil worked on scripting the application and customising the solution

Thobile designed the storyboard and the written analysis.

Thobile ntaka,
Oct 11, 2010, 12:59 AM
Thobile ntaka,
Oct 11, 2010, 1:02 AM