Cut a Tree, Make a Difference
Divya Goel, Meghan Kokoski and Zachary Collins
When looking through the data displayed by the World Bank, we saw an undeniable increase in carbon dioxide emissions and a drastic decrease in global forest size. We saw these two developments as very related issues, even if not necessarily correlated. The natural recycling process that plant life does with carbon dioxide is very important for reducing our global footprint. The damage we are doing at both ends of this process is concerning, and so we wanted to make a visual display that would connect these two problems in a different yet still very effective manner.
We displayed our data with a very satirical approach. It took the form of a flyer produced by a fictional company whose platform advocates deforestation and increased carbon dioxide emissions for the purposes of eliminating fresh air and increasing climate change. Quite immediately it becomes clear that this advertisement is satirical, however this perspective adds much more weight to the arguments we use our data to make.
We first propose the current issue — that trees are one of the largest reducers of carbon dioxide emissions. We highlight to the audience the effect they have on clearing the air and then turn attention toward global deforestation. We highlight the massive reduction in forest area describing it as “a great step toward increasing net emission.” Taking it in from a satirical perspective hits the audience in a much stronger manner as something that clearly shouldn’t be having much success is proving to be quite effective. We then turn it into a call to action, encouraging readers to “take the fight to their own backyards” and chopping down local trees. Highlighting the damage they can do actually highlights the positive impact they can have (i.e. planting and protecting local trees).
The major chart that we implement is an area graph displaying increased carbon emissions coupled with a tree infographic that displays the damage done to tree populations. The most flawed chart we critiqued in class was the flipped area graph displaying “Gun Deaths in Florida” created by Christine Chan. It’s deceptiveness and confusion caused it to be a very ineffective way of telling the story the author intended, however, we believe that the major fault of this chart was a lack of context and a confusing background. If those were mended, the interesting features this layout contains could be effectively used to convey a story. We decided to take a page from Nigel Holmes and inject humourous and contextual images that would make the graph’s intentions clear and give the reader the motivation to correctly understand what the chart was displaying.
We labeled our upside down area as carbon dioxide and gave it a distinctive coloring. Moreover, we inserted iconography related to forest area reduction to the bottom portion of this graph. Having movement and action occurring in this section makes it very clear that this isn’t what is being plotted in the graph. The gaseous nature of carbon dioxide makes it very clear why it may be situated in this inverted form as every object in our display has some relation to the physical item it represents. The interaction between the trees and carbon dioxide creates a clear metaphor that forests are protecting us from it, and provides meaning to the trends within the graph. Using these tools, we were able to capture the reader’s attention and display our data in a way that highlights and provides immediate meaning to both the problem at hand and the information being showcased in our graph.
Our target audience is the general individual who may consistently hear about these problems but has become desensitized to the usual and common arguments. Millennials would resonate well with the satirical nature of the flyer. Choosing to tell the story in this type of context focuses on what has went wrong, providing negative reinforcement rather than just the potential to do good. Because millennials are more likely to change their attitudes and habits moving forward, this visualization will have a more persuasive aura among them.
CO2 Emission Data and Forest Area Data: http://data.worldbank.org/topic/climate-change
Tree Carbon Consumption Info: http://www.americanforests.org/explore-forests/forest-facts/
Planet Tree Total: http://news.yale.edu/2015/09/02/seeing-forest-and-trees-all-3-trillion-them