How Do Visualisations Aid The Communication Of Science Within The “Public Sphere”?
Amidst the continuous Climate Change debate, more and more data from both the “Climate Skeptics” and the “Scientific Consensus” is published. There is so much information from each of the respective publics being added to the ever-growing flow of data, and a lot of it may seem invisible to us. So how then do we go about making the “invisible” data “visible”? We “Visualise“. Visualisation enables us to discover the unknown, to make the invisible flows of data visible, through the use of images to structure new relationships, and exemplify and identify existing patterns of data.
The “Scientific Consensus” publicise their data in scientific journals & textbooks, public or university lectures, books, through graphs & visuals, websites, newspapers, mainstream media, etc. “Climate Skeptics” publicise through lectures, websites, blogs, newspapers, mainstream media, visuals, videos, etc. There’s so much information being published that even if you have a particular stance towards Climate Change, understanding all the arguments isn’t always easy, nor is it easy to bring all that information together so a proper debate can be had.
Even the portrayal of Climate Change issues and perspectives in the media can be biased. Power & personal opinion editors or owners of media organisations have an influence on what type of information is published, and thus influences how the public debates issues. Newspapers or forms of media may publish a more favourable amount of “scientific consensus” perspective articles/editorials as opposed to “climate skeptic” perspective articles, and vice versa.
As such, for people either of a particular stance towards Climate Change, or looking to develop a broader understanding to help shape their opinion, they need a way to have both perspectives & arguements brought together. This is where an amazing infographic visualisation entitled ‘Climate Change Deniers vs. The Consensus‘ brings together arguments from both perspectives in this big graphic of both text and images about the issue of Carbon Dioxide influencing Climate Change. It was created by David McCandless in December 2009, and is published on the great infographic site, Information Is Beautiful, where “ideas, issues, knowledge, data [are] visualised”. The graphic is huge, so I’ve cut it up into particular sections to make analysing it easier, but to view all of it & and a whole, just click on the link two sentences above! Why not have a read of the arguments as you look at the pictures too!
The layout of the image presents the “Climate Skpetics” perspectives on the left side of the visual, with their argument/thesis made bold and clear in pink. The “Scientific Consensus” perspectives are on the right with their argument/thesis made bold and clear in green. In the “Global Warming Skeptics vs The Scientific Consensus” section that begins the visualisation, the clear arguments of both sides are presented in text so that they can not only be clearly identified, read, and understood, but be presented in a way that signifies equal importance. The first opposing arguments centre around the relationship between CO2 emissions and rising temperatures. You have the two arguments each on their respective side with their respective colour, and as well a graph in the middle that both sides can relate to, or draw their arguments from. This is the layout for issue/section of the infographic:
As you can see from the above pictures, different types of graphics are used, including graphs, maps and scientific diagrams. A combination of text, colour and dynamic visuals enhance visualisations enhances the experience for those who learn better through text, and those who learn better through visuals. The graphic diagrams in the centre of each opposing arguments gives the viewer data to aid in developing their own opinion/understanding.
This visualisation not only presents a series of arguments for both the “Climate Skeptics” and “Scientific Consensus” in a fair and equal weight, but uses various resources for its images and information, as most images are reference. A conclusion to both arguments is provided at the bottom, so in fact, you have a whole debate all in this one infographic. The “Climate Skeptics” conclude that Man made CO2 cannot be driving Climate Change, whereas the “Scientific Consensus” has the opposite conclusion. But along the way, both arguments have been supported by evidence & graphics to further both arguments. At the bottom you have the sources used for both sides arguments, and a link to further sources.
As such, this amazing infographic visualisation allows for an easier understanding of the debate about Climate Change by taking an objective stance and equally presenting both perspectives. The author looked to simulate what is was like researching Climate Change online. Henceforth, visualisations don’t just transform how data is published, they can bring together differernt froms of data into one piece of publishing. It’s a good example for future visualisations depicting information on Climate Change.
* All Images are adaptations of the original image found belonging to, and found at http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/
- McCandless, D, White, P 2009, ‘Climate Change Deniers vs. The Consensus, Information Is Beautiful, http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/, last accessed 24 April 2011, last updated 19 December 2009
- School Of English, Media & Performing Arts 2011, ’ARTS2090 Publics & Publishing In Transition – 2011 Course Outline’ , accessed from http://arts2090.newsouthblogs.org/, pp.42-43