The Disappearing Planet: Comparing the Extinction Rates of Animals

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.08.01 PMThe subtly designed A Disappearing Planet by freelance data journalist Anna Flagg reveals the extinction rates of animals, caused by a variety of human-caused effects, including climate change, habitat destruction and species displacement.

Divided into mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds, the interactive bar graph allows users to browse horizontally through the vast amount of species by order and family,  vertically by genus.Species in risk are highlighted in red, so that dense clusters denote related families (e.g. bears, parrots, turtles) that are specially threatened over the next 100 years.

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Well worth a look, the aesthetic appeal of the presentation nevertheless seems to collide violently with the reality of the sad facts that are presented.

1024px-MinardFor instance, Chales Minard‘s pioneering 19th century visualizations, in particular his representation of the casualty rates and size of Napoleon’s army on its march to and from Moscow come to mind as an example that manages to bring home the severity and catastrophic dimension behind the numbers into clear view.

There is too much glossy-ness in Flagg’s presentation, which creates a certain ambivalence and uncertainty about what we are invited to see. Displaying the devastation of the planet’s species in an interactive media display can have unintended consequences.

Source:  propublica.org – A Disappearing Planet