Here’s excellent graphic from FiveThirtyEight via Treehugger and via New Zealand’s The visible hand showing data from a report from the the Yale Forestry and Environmental Studies School Climate Change project. It needs no explanation.
The project’s survey: “Climate Change on the the American Mind” is a lengthy and ponderous read, and is so queued in my reading list. It contained this graphic, which has the same (and a bit more) information as the inverted triangle above – It’s a chart that any consultant would love, and it is difficult to read and, well, boring.
The learning here is that each chart should deliver one message, and to focus the chart on that message alone. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in presenting everything sometimes, when taking out the key facts has much higher impact.
This chart is has great information – however it really could have been drawn better. It says that 69% of Americans believe in Global Warming now, but more importantly that only 10% deny (to one extent or another) that it is happening and only 3% are extremely sure it is not happening.
(*Incidentally the FES school was until pretty recently called just the Forestry school. Also I did one course there so anything I say about them will clearly be biased. )
Couldn’t agree more that charts should be simple and convey one or two key points… but the triangle chart you use as an exemplar is visually misleading. People use area as a heuristic to judge relative difference, and in the triangle chart it looks as though the % of people who think climate change will harm them is about 1/15th of the % who think it will harm plant and animal species.
You could say ‘well, they should look at the labels on the left hand side’, but given a general aversion to numbers and the visual cues of the graphic (i.e., start at the middle top and work your way down the centre line), the visual impression is likely to be the one people take away.
I agree, it isn’t to scale and therefore a bit misleading. However it does focus the mind on the one point – that lots of people think global warming will affect others, and that few think it will affect them. The only number I took away was 32%, which was one number more than the blue chart.
Comments are closed.