Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2024.02.28 edition

Climate funding, federal laws since 1789, TSA complaint counts, high-school financial education, and Mr. Trash Wheel.

Climate funding. To develop its “Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2023” report, the Climate Policy Initiative gathered data on grants, loans, equity and other types of “primary financing in real economy sectors that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience.” The report, published in November, identified ~$1.3 trillion in such financing globally in 2021–2022. A spreadsheet provided alongside it indicates the estimated amount by year, region, sector, focus on mitigation vs. adaptation, type of financial instrument, funder sector (public vs. private), and funder type (development bank, corporation, institutional investors, etc.). Reports from earlier years include downloadable data for 2019–2020 and 2017–2018. Previously: National climate funds (DIP 2022.02.09) and climate finance projects (DIP 2023.06.14).

Federal laws since 1789. Political scientist and “recovering lawyer” Brian Libgober has compiled a “comprehensive dataset of U.S. federal laws,” covering 49,000+ legislative enactments from 1789 to 2022. Such a dataset has been elusive, Libgober notes, in part “because such laws have been enacted over hundreds of years, resulting in a complicated patchwork of documents published in numerous and inconsistent formats.” His solution combines three key sources: “the oldest meta data for the U.S. Statutes at Large disseminated via HeinOnline, similar and more recent meta data through the Governmental Printing Office, and finally the last six years of law-making as described by the National Archives’ website.” The dataset lists each law’s title, legislative session, date of passage, source/citation identifiers, and more.

TSA complaint counts. The Transportation Security Administration publishes semi-regular reports on the complaints it receives, aggregated by month, airport, category, and subcategory. Unfortunately, the agency only publishes those reports as PDFs, rather than structured data files. So volunteers and I at the Data Liberation Project have built a data pipeline to convert those PDFs into tidy CSV files, currently covering complaints to TSA at 440+ airports (and additional complaints not specifying any airport) from January 2015 to January 2024. Read more: The Data Liberation Project’s latest newsletter dispatch.

High-school financial education. In a recent paper, economists Allison Oldham Luedtke and Carly Urban introduce a dataset of 19,000+ high-school classes that teach financial literacy, manually collected from thousands of online course catalogs. Each row provides details about the school (e.g., name, location, enrollment) and course, including its title, description, duration, requirement status, and whether financial literacy was the main focus or smaller component. An auxiliary dataset indicates, annually for 1970–2024, which states required such coursework for high school graduation.

Trash interceptors. Mr. Trash Wheel is one of foursemi-autonomous trash interceptors” pulling garbage out of the Baltimore Harbor. The partnership behind the effort publishes spreadsheets of each contraption’s collection history. For each dumpster filled since May 2014, they list the date, weight and volume of trash, and estimated number of plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and other types of items extracted. [h/t Cody Winchester]