Fun With Statistics: Add Your Own


We received an insert with our water bill this week that listed some interesting environmental statistics. Some of you might remember one or two of my past articles on statistics and know that I am a bit skeptical of manipulating them to make an point. However, the ones listed below are really just to get us thinking about the numbers and how the facts behind them can surprise. So, on with a short list. Please add any others that you find interesting or surprising in a comment.

1) Each Gallon of gas burned in a vehicle releases almost 20 pounds of CO2 into the air. The most common question I have heard regarding this one is: How can this be true when a gallon of gas weighs 6.5 to 7 pounds? I am sure there is a detailed answer somewhere that takes into account the octane level of different types of gas and the specific molecular weight of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and the algebra needed to convert gas into CO2. However, the short answer is that when the gas burns, each carbon atom combines with 2 oxygen atoms to make CO2. And, even though oxygen is a little heavier that carbon, we can see that the resulting CO2 will be about 3 times the weight of the original carbon alone. (6.5 lbs of gas X 3 = 19.5 lbs of CO2.)

2) In the U.S. about 40 billion soda cans and bottles are thrown away each year. If glued end to end, these would stretch out into space more that 40 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. This is an interesting answer since the Moon has an elliptical orbit and, over the course of a year, the distance from the earth varies from about 220,000 to 250,000 miles. (Am I right on these numbers, Bob?) Multiplied by 40 times, that is a big margin of error. In any case whether the empty soda vessels would reach 8.8 million or 10 million miles into space, that is a long ways. I can’t help wondering about two things. How far would they go if we did not have recycling and bottle deposit laws? And, getting a bit off topic, how much soda is consumed in the U.S every year?

OK, I could not stand it and looked this last one up. U.S. residents consume an average of 54 gallons of soda, each, per year. This works out to a constantly increasing total as you can see from watching this entertaining web site for a few minutes. The total soda consumption in the U.S. as I write this would be sixteen billion, six hundred million gallons per year. When you account for infants and people like me that basically drink no soda, the average consumption is probably closer to 100 gallons, per person, each year!

3) We toss out enough wood and paper every year to heat 50 million homes for 20 years. Again, I wonder what it would be without recycling. I also debate whether this is a concerning statistic, other than from a waste standpoint. This is because in order to heat those billion homes, we would need to burn the wood and paper. I don’t know how much carbon this would add to the atmosphere each year, but it would be a lot.

Have any of you have run across any interesting ecology, health or diet statistics?

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Will Sig
1 Raivyn

Hi Will, it’s good to see your hosting transfer has gone through and you’re back to blogging again.

These stats are appalling, especially the soda ones. You made me stop and think about all the soda I’m sucking down and how it’s affecting my body.. it’s amazing how clear things are when you step back and look at how everything accumulates in a year’s time. More water and tea for me.. lol. Thanks.


2 Bob

Hi Will, interesting stats, especially the soda can and bottle one, yes you are right about the orbit of the Moon numbers,lol, I was reading an article the other day, just went looking for it again, found it, do you realize that at any one given day 50% of the women in the united States are on a diet, and 25% of the men are on a diet.


3 Will

Thanks Raivyn – I have never been a heavy soda drinker by average standards. For the past few years I really drink none at all. Cutting it out is one of easiest and most beneficial health changes you can make. Yes almost back to normal with the hosting transfer. Just a few image links on older posts to fix.

Hi Bob! 50% actually diet to try and loose weight. If only people would think of changing their diet, (like cut out soda), it would be so much easier for them to maintain a healthy weight.


4 sky

Namaste’ Will I am going to add some fairly good news to the gloom here, check this

and something to get a little excited about

Every day I see , read so much bad stuff I am also combining that with what ***I*** can do that is good to contribute to.

I know though that I STILL hating going to landfills :0( and seeing in person our nasty dirty foot print.



5 Will

Thanks Sky! It is great that Minas Basin Pulp and Power is profitable at the same time they are making these contributions. The economics is such an important factor in these new technologies being adopted.

The geothermal heat pumps are catching on here too. I understand they can even cool in the summer. The initial cost appears to be a roadblock for many people. They seem to be put in new construction more than when replacing an old system. Although our neighbor put one in a year or so ago.


6 Anna

Hi Will, I have problem with statistics all the time too. It all depends on the population sample. It is all hypothetical unless you test the complete population. What I mean is, that most of the statistics is based on the group of people or group of samples, but how do we know that the selected sample was the right sample, right area to be tested, or right group of people, what is the confidence level in the surveys taken, do people lie, and how accurate is the data (things I seen at work place when working with stats, boy people like to remove and add things, lol) etc. That is why it is hard for me to believe in statistics. However, if you in the real manufacturing environment and data is constantly taken by the reliable equipment, I can trust that.

Will I leave you with couple of things:
1) Quote: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’ – Attributed by Mark Twain to Benjamin Disraeli

2) ‘Only 21 per cent of Canadians know that washing in cold water can save up to 75 per cent of the household energy used per load
Seven in ten (70 per cent) Canadians would be more likely to wash in cold water if a laundry detergent could get clothes really clean’ – this is only based on population sample and not on the whole population, I don’t remember being asked, lol.

Anna 🙂


7 Will

Hi Anna! It depends on how the questions are asked too. And how many choices there are. Thanks for the link to the jokes. I liked this one:

Three statisticians went out hunting, and came across a large deer. The first statistician fired, but missed, by a meter to the left. The second statistician fired, but also missed, by a meter to the right. The third statistician didn’t fire, but shouted in triumph, “On the average we got it!”


8 Anna

Thanks Will, I like that one too, lol. Thanks, Anna 🙂


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