A lot is happening on Earth at any given time, and only Superman, Santa Claus and a few other supreme beings can keep track of it all at once. For the rest of us, humanity's global relationship with the environment is too complex to fully grasp. 

Still, wouldn't it be nice if there was some kind of ecological power meter we could periodically check, offering a running record of the most important ways we interact with the natural world?

That's the idea behind MNN's eco-clock, an ongoing project to create a reusable resource for measuring the environmental footprints various countries leave around the world. It will take time to build, but we wanted to let you in on the ground floor by unveiling this introductory version. Mother Nature's clock 1.0 now displays continuously updating estimates of population growth and electricity production for the 10 nations pictured — click each country's icon to see its data, and keep checking back in for new topics like deforestation, recycling, air pollution, water usage and more.

Data sources and methodology

To find out how the eco-clock calculates its estimates, check out the following links to data sources and explanations of methodology.

Population totals and growth rates:

  • Data sources: U.S. Census Bureau's International Data Base, CIA World Factbook
  • Methodology: Population totals are calculated by applying each country's growth rate to its most recent available population data, which are from July 2009. Growth rates are calculated by taking the difference between a country's estimated birth rate and death rate.
Electricity generation:
  • Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration's International Electricity Analysis
  • Methodology:  Rates of electricity generation are based on each country's recently observed rates of year-over-year changes in total electricity produced, dating back to 2004. Each country's displayed total represents the amount of kilowatt hours generated since 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. 
Mother Nature's clock: Keeping watch on your world
Welcome to MNN's new environmental ticker, a constantly updating resource for tracking the way humans treat Mother Nature. Stay tuned for much more to come.