China/Libya Comparison

For my comparison, I chose two very different countries, China and Libya. China is a world superpower with an enormous economy. It's physically large and biodiverse. Libya is a small middle eastern country whose primary resource is oil and whose population is currently rebelling against their dictator. It's also at war with NATO forces.

I thought it would be interesting make my comparison using an infographic that broke each section of the five-point framework into quantitative data. I began my research by sifting through environmental databases available through the Penn library. I was lucky to find EarthTrends Environmental Information, whose searchable database proved to be a trove of statistics regarding the environments and economies of countries all over the world. This website also gave me the vocabulary I needed to find similar data elsewhere on the internet.

I had two problems use the five-point framework. First, I had trouble discerning which data belonged to which section. The difference between the "Environmental Damage" section and the "Climate Change" section often confused me; I also had trouble sorting out "Hostile Neighbors" from "Friendly Trading Partners." (Having few friendly trading partners is roughly the same thing as having many hostile neighbors.)

Also, when Jared Diamond developed his five-point framework, he had whole civilizations in mind - not individual countries. The climate change that we worry about today acts on a global scale. No individual country suffers from significant swings in climate due to climate change.

As I worked on this project, I realized that not every section of the five-point framework could be expressed numerically. How do I quantify a country's relationship with the world? I would have liked to use quotes from the New York Times and other periodicals, or describe the nuances of the country's political situation in my own words. But I felt this wouldn't be in keeping with the indexical nature of the medium. In retrospect, I wish I had done it anyway. Ultimately, I'm glad I got to experiment with this form of delivering content. I'm fascinated by the some of the infographic posters we have hanging in the classroom, and I've been wanting to create something similar. I'm glad I had the opportunity.

My bibliography is here.