The Impact of One Visualization

In an excellent article at the Adobe Design Center site, David Womack describes the significance of one visualization in “Seeing is believing: Information visualization and the debate over global warming.” Womack describes the considerations around presenting visualizations of global warming in Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. There are lessons here for us as both consumers of information and as designers.

When Roger Friedman of Fox News said in his review of Al Gore’s recent film on global warming, “It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, your mind will be changed in a nanosecond,” he wasn’t referring to scenes of Gore reflecting on the meaning of life before a slow-flowing river or even the images of glaciers collapsing or polar bears swimming in the open ocean in search of vanished ice. He was talking about a particular graph shown in the film that depicts the variation in temperature compared to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the last thousand years. Whether or not you accept the claim put forward in “An Inconvenient Truth” that the earth is getting warmer as a result of human activities will rest in large part on how you respond to this one slide.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

March 4, 2007 at 6:52 am

Roger is partly correct, I do think the graph strengthens the argument.

But the fact that there is presentation after presentation, slide after slide, and evidence after evidence does contributes to this overwhelming sense of oh.. wow.. there’s just too much there to be just mere coincidence.

September 26, 2007 at 2:11 am

The globe is getting warmer and we are to blame for this increase in temperature. The increasing quantities of CO2 released in the atmosphere combined with burning more and more fossil fuels are the main reasons behind our planet’s illness. We could spare our grandchildren or even children to buy wormer clothes if more investments are made to support ground-braking scientific discoveries.