||Wood Use: How Big Is an Acre? Activity
In much of the controversy surrounding deforestation, all kinds of numbers are being thrown around. Sometimes they are comforting, sometimes they are scary. Often, groups are fighting for our emotions when they present data to us. Sometimes, they are more interested in making an emotional impression rather than an accurate one.
Frequently the data presented deal with number of acres. In many cases, the number of acres or hectares involved actually are something most of us can't picture. The objective of this exercise is to help you get a sense of how big different areas are so you will be better prepared to evaluate the validity of the measurements posed by each side of an issue.
Here's an example of conflicting data from the tropical rainforest debate:
Whoa! RAN disagrees with Kirk and Franklin by a factor of 5. That's a disagreement of 500%! And RAN disagrees with the United Nations by a amazing 694%. At this point you may not know who to believe. Disagreements this large should set off some alarm bells and make you question the accuracy of the data.
How big is big? The following data may help:
These comparisons may help you visualize data. For example, Kirk and Franklin's data claims rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 30 acres every minute. That is comparable to cutting down between 9 and 10 football fields' worth of trees every minute. That's a lot of trees!
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