Redesigning Greenpeace’s Fukushima infographic

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am

Yesterday I saw an infographic from Greenpeace about the cost of cleaning up Fukushima. On to Twitter it went…

And Twitter’s response?

That sounds about right — the message Greenpeace wants to communicate is that cleaning up Fukushima is immensely expensive and the same money could be used to provide clean energy. Bear that in mind and look at the infographic again:


I can kinda see it — but a good infographic / data visualisation should not leave me searching for the meaning. The main problem is the use of a treemap. For starters there’s not enough data or variation in size of data for the treemap to be useful (check out the Billion Dollar Gram for a far better example of a treemap that works). Secondly, the two key pieces of data — cost of the clean up and the cost of green energy — couldn’t be further away.

Thirdly, why be coy with the story here? Tell me your point, then show me your visualisation.

Here’s my version:


Better? Bar charts might not the be sexiest approach, but they work.

3 Responses to “Redesigning Greenpeace’s Fukushima infographic”

  1. Time frames, capital/running costs not defined.

    Assuming NASA, Apple, food are latest financial year.

    Aids research? Cumulative?

    Olympics? Does that include the bid? Gross? Net?

    Fukushima? Cumulative? Surely, there’s ongoing cost.

    Wind? Capital? Does it include subsidies, annual maintenance?

    Even if these are covered in the footnotes, any graph based on this data is a best disingenuous.

  2. James says:

    Pete — you’re totally right. I wasn’t even going to touch the choice of datasets!

  3. [...] Infographics drive me to distraction. I do not believe I have got through a single work day in three months without some kind of discussion about them and the simple fact is that I find a pretty small percentage of those I come across really achieve their stated goal. This collection is a prime example of that and this post is a prime example of the fact that sometimes a simple chart is all you actually need to get the point across. [...]

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