What Impact Does Our Country Have on Climate Change?

Posted to Maps  |  Nathan Yau

BreathingEarth is an animated map that represents death rate data from September 2005 and birth rate data from August 2006 compiled by the World Factbook and 2002 carbon dioxide emission rates from the United Nations. The frying sound is kind of a nice touch.

Pretty But Not Very Useful

I think that BreathingEarth, like many maps before it, communicates an important point (in this case, CO2 emissions), but doesn’t particularly do a good job of showing it. I watched BreathingEarth for a few minutes, but I didn’t get much of a sense of what country had more deaths, had more births, or created more CO2 emissions. It’s one those projects when a statistician could have lent a useful hand.

So to answer the question – What Impact Does Our Country Have on Climate Change? – I’m not sure. It is a pretty map though.


  • I think the problem here and with quite a few time based visualisations is that people don’t readily remember visual information over time. Vison is mainly space based coding with a relatively small time element, hearing is predominantly time based with some spatial coding. I think this is why music is so concerned with patterns over time. maybe some kind of sound visualisation (sonofication?) might be more appropriate for conveying this information…

  • @tom: an interesting comment about people not remembering visual information over time. maybe to improve this viz is to have some viz that shows what has passed already so that whatever appears doesn’t become a fleeting memory?

  • Tom’s observation may explain why some animation is very successful. A recent post (forget where) described improved comprehension between two displays by animating the change from scatter to bar charts.

    A better example is the awesome TED seminars by Hans Rosling.


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