by William Chan
This project was completed as part of CUNY IS608's curriculum. To see other projects, please click here for the homepage.
Parameters of the data set – What does the data show?
The data set from the EPA is primarily based on geography and timeframe as it shows the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion in each state from 1990 to 2012. It also shows the total carbon dioxide emissions measured in million metric tons CO2 and breaks it down according to five sectors: commercial, industrial, residential, transportation, and electric power. Each data point represents (combination of one state, one sector, and one year) the carbon dioxide emissions for a specific state from a specific cause (total, commercial, industrial, residential, transportation, or electric power) for a specific year.
The estimated_annual_state_populations_1990_2012.csv data set is also primarily based on geography and timeframe as it shows the population of each state for every year from 1990 to 2012 (as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau). Each data point represents the estimated annual population of a specific state for a specific year.
Why is it important?
On December 14, 2014, over 190 nations agreed to a proposed plan to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions where the United States and China had already set the tone by previously announcing their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The Obama administration promised last month to reduce U.S. emissions by 2025 to a level 26 percent to 28 percent below where they were in 2005.”1 The tentative agreements made at this meeting in Lima, Peru has set the stage for a chance at a global pact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions to be finalized in late 2015 in Paris, France. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide accounted for 82% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. in 2012.2 The CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion data set from the U.S. EPA (CO2FFC_2012.xlsx) can be used as a good indicator of the increases or decreases of carbon dioxide emissions from each state over the past 22 years. In addition, when combining with the estimated annual population of each state from 1990 to 2012, interesting trends appear when comparing emissions from specific sources and changes in population. For example, Texas and California are the top states in terms of total emissions and estimated annual populations. From 1990 to 2012, the population of Texas increased from 17 million to 26 million whereas the population of California increased from approximately 30 million to 38 million. In the same time period, Texas saw its total emissions grow from 605 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) to 677 MMTCO2 and California saw its total emissions grow from 363 MMTCO2 to 364 MMTCO2. Most notably in 2012, Texas (with a population of 26 million) generated 197 MMTCO2 from transportation while California (with a population of 38 million) generated 204 MMTCO2 from transportation. States such as New York showed a significant decrease of 44 MMTCO2 from 1990 to 2012 despite a population increase of 1.5 million in the same time frame. I believe this visualization could be used to identify which states are succeeding in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and to identify which states need to be studied more in depth to determine their main sources of carbon dioxide.