Global Data Made Local

A third effective way of making contextual data relevant is to express it in terms of a familiar setting. If the evidence is global, or in a context that is not familiar to the audience, the numbers can be cast in a more commonplace background.

Timothy Wirth, assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, cited the following statistics in a speech on sustainable development delivered to the Washington Press Club: “And in China, home to one in five of the earth’s people, severe water shortages and soil erosion threaten that nation’s ability to sustain its population. Between 1957 and 1990, China lost nearly 70 million acres of cropland, an area the size of all the farms in France, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands ...

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