Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How long is it going to last?

New Scientist magazine recently published a ridiculous chart, with Comic Network aesthetic, bold colors and fat radial lines exploding outwards. Unfortunately, it entirely missed the reason why we make charts: to communicate an argument by using our eye's ability to compare amounts across a page.
Moreover, below the chartjunk lay an important story about resource depletion on our small planet. This story deserved to be told, and so I did. I drew a cleaned and clear version, containing the same data as the original. Here it is. (click on the image to embiggen.)

The chart above is my version, and the New Scientist's original is below.

The theory about resource depletion comes from Hubbert's Peak. The theory about chartjunk comes from Tufte's groundbreaking, beautiful, and expensive books (all three of them), as well as from Rafe M.J. Donahue's outstanding free course notes on information design. America's fair share was computed according to one particular definition of 'fair', namely, the current world consumption times the percentage of the world's population living in the US.
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