Hans Rosling: 200 300 years of global change

We think we have done more than we have done and we haven't understood how much we have to do. Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling is a Swedish medical doctor and statistician who is determined (in his own words) "to fight devastating ignorance with a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand".

Here is a video of him giving a talk on September 28th, 2013 at a public forum that introduced the latest IPCC report. The meeting was hosted by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme in Stockholm.

During the talk he asks a couple of questions, one on how many more children there will be in the year 2100 compared to today and another on what percentage of world energy is produced by solar and wind. I was in the minority that got the first one correct, but only because I had already seen one of Rosling's earlier talks. On the second question, I was among the majority that got the answer wrong. How will you do?

Here are the main points that stood out for me:

We, all of us, have areas of "devastating ignorance" that need to be filled in with facts and new perspectives. Listening to a Hans Rosling is always entertaining, but it can also be rather unsettling.

As for the two quiz questions:

1) According to Rosling, we have already reached "Peak Child" with about 2 billion people 15 years old or younger. Although the population will continue to grow to 10 or 11 billion, the absolute number of children is likely to stay steady. Only about 10% of the public in Sweden and the UK know that, Most people in those countries assume that the number of children will greatly increase.(8:15)

2) Less than 1% of the world's energy is currently generated by wind and solar power. In a survey of the UK public, 70% of people believe that the amount is five times or more that. (18:00)

Thomas Stocker's talk on the IPCC AR5 WGI Summary for Policymakers report followed Rosling's talk and is also well worth watching.


Posted by Andy Skuce on Thursday, 31 October, 2013

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