From a series of conversations with people in HATCH, it really hit me the need for our community to come together on the global effort of building a responsive public awareness for sustainability. We can really make a difference! Thousands of researchers around the world are conducting a series of environmental studies and collecting petabytes of relevant data. We can help them better communicate their findings and in the process help driving knowledge, education, and potentially uncover hidden patterns in the data - one of the key strengths of data visualization.
Visualizing your last.fm network of friends is cool, but we have many other urgent problems that need to be addressed. Intensive Farming, Land Degradation, Overpopulation, Ozone Depletion, Water Pollution, Waste, etc. The list of environmental issues is long and in desperate need of powerful, functional and rich visualizations. Besides our moral duty, many of these topics present problems of organized complexity, where hundreds of variables are interconnected and interdependent, posing astoundingly compelling visualization challenges for developers, artists, designers and programmers. If you want to join this effort, here are some links of resources where you can get environmental data:
- National Environmental Satellite, Data and information Service
- Ocean Biogeographic information System
- Environmental and Ecological Data
- UN Environment Statistics
- The Environmental Database - UNEP GEO Data Portal
- Energy Emissions Data (US)
- Environmental Protection Agency (US)
- The Environmental Data Center
- State of the Environment Database (CA)
- National Ecological Observatory Network
There are currently 16 categories of projects on VisualComplexity, from Transportation Networks to Biology. My wish is to create a new category in a near future, that will be filled with fresh visualizations on many of the issues mentioned above. The name that this category might carry, either Sustainability Networks, Ecosystems, or simply Environment, is probably the least important aspect. If this wish comes to fruition it might prove that designers really want to make a difference with the tools they have at their disposal, and that Information Visualization is more that just eye-candy pictures.