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Good visualization

2009 National Geographic 216 (6), p. 26-29. Image:dsc_assignment1_good.png

This visualization shows the sources and sinks of CO2 to and from the atmosphere, a complex process, and why CO2 is accumulating. The visualization is effective because it uses a powerful, common metaphor -- a bathtub. Additional sets of simple questions, icons, and explanations communicate the system's key aspects in an accessible format.

Bad visualization

2007 IPCC Synthesis Report, p. 58. Image:dsc_assignment1_bad.png

This visualization is trying to explain the potential for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, from two different modeling strategies given certain prices of GHGs, in relation to future projections of GHGs given different scenarios.

My issues with this visualization: 1) Bar graphs are used to indicate the low and high ranges for different GHG prices. This is an inherently unintuitive form for indicating a range. 2) The viewer is supposed to be making comparisons between the high and low ranges and between the different dollar amounts, both in relation to the different scenarios. In order to do this the viewer has to jump around between the different graph panels whereas with a better design, the comparisons would be more apparent.

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