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Weekend Website #30: Breathing Earth

Posted by on March 13, 2011

Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website my classes and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours as they are of mine.
breathing earth


5th grade and up, as well as teachers, homeschoolers


Studies about the environment, immigration, history


Breathing Earth


When you arrive at Breathing Earth, it’s not obvious what to do. You see a map of the world, browns and oranges with a few darker shades. Occasionally, a nation lights up, painted red. Bursts of blue and black explode here and there, seemingly randomly. Look closer. There’s order to the chaos.

The planet is not only breathing, but talking to you.

Without interacting with the globe, here’s what you find out:

  • The total world population is over 6.5 billion
  • The bursts of light are each a death and new life somewhere across the planet
  • The red is a country currently emitting 1000 tons of CO2
  • The ticker in the lower right corner tells you how many people have been born, died and how much CO2 has been emitted since you started watching.

That is wonderful data, but there’s more. The map is interactive. Hover over a country and you find out:

  • Its population
  • How long it takes for one person to be born or die
  • How long it takes to emit 1000 tons of CO2
  • How much CO2 is emitted per person

The connections to past, present and future in student studies are exciting. Here are two you might want to try:

  • Discuss man’s stewardship of our planet. Are we benevolent dictators or anarchists?
  • Discuss the affect of immigration on the past, present, future. What part will it play to our future (whoever you are)?

If you subscribe to the danger of CO2 to our planet, this living data is compelling. Even if you don’t, the site is irresistible.

One warning: The site requires a level of critical thinking from students that they can understand the importance of births and deaths and immigration on the future of a nation, that they can see the big picture rather than our tiny corner of the neighborhood. Since most teachers I know strive to make that very point, this site serves well in supporting their efforts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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