Reflection on “The Impact of Social Factors….On Carbon Dioxide Emissions” (Baiocchi et al., 2010)

In Baiocchi et al.’s piece they analyze geodemographic data to better understand the direct and indirect CO2 emissions associated with different lifestyles in the UK. They open the piece by listing criticisms in the field of environmental input-output models, namely that there is too much literature dependent on top-down classification, too much emphasis on consumer responsibility, too much literature with entirely descriptive analyses, and that the term ‘lifestyle’ is defined by expenditures, which ignores human activity patterns. Using geodemographic data as a basis for their study mitigates the potential harm from these criticisms.

One thing I noticed about this paper was how it used geodemographic data as a way to create a bottom-up procedure for their research. Historically, the fields of geography and cartography have been very top-down in nature, with little, if any input from “non-experts”. One of the ways GIS has been so revolutionary and popular is that it is redefining how and what people can contribute, and today there is ample opportunity for “non-experts” to be involved. As geodemographic data was around long before GIS existed, I did not initially realize how it could contribute to more bottom-up approaches. Now, I know, among other reasons, that there is open data almost everywhere, making it much easier to access and understand, and that GIS technology in general is much easier to access and understand than ever before.

I’ll end my reflection with a few general questions about geodemographics. Specifically, what is the difference between demographics and geodemographics? Doesn’t all demographic data have some sort of location/geographical component? 


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