For app suport please send email to, or use the contact form on the right below

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Screen Shots, Part III: Tree Maps

Tree Maps visualize data by area, much like a pie chart.  Tree maps differ from pie charts by providing a way to clearly compare a larger set of data categories, especially for hierarchical data.  Also, tree maps use rectangles instead of circular slices.  Tree maps that are interactive enable selective drilling down into particular areas, while maintaining a perspective of how the details relate to the whole.

Footprint USA displays a variety of data in the form of tree maps to help build a comprehensive view of how we live as a society.  These cover aspects of the natural environment (Ecoregions, Natural Hazards), how we use resources (Land Use, Commodity Use, Commercial Energy Use, Air Pollution, Residential Energy Use) and our behavior and quality of life (Businesses, Degrees Granted, Diet, Spending, Time Use)

For example, here is a view of total Land Use in the United States:

We can drill down into Field Crops, and see how much of our country is dedicated to growing corn:

Most of this corn goes to feeding livestock, so that we can eat meat.  However, an increasing percentage is being used for biofuels.  We're not eating less meat, so increased biofuels will need to take their land from something else... But that is a topic for another post.

Speaking of diet, have you wondered how our diet has changed?

Looking from right to left, we can see that fruits and vegetables had decreased slightly from 1980 (top) to 2009 (bottom), and there has been a shift from processed to fresh fruits and vegetables.  Cereals, fats & oils, and sweeteners have increased significantly, taking away from dairy, meat & eggs.

What makes up those sweeteners?  The chart below shows how corn is taking over:

There is growing evidence that high fructose corn syrup is driving an epidemic of type II diabetes.

Tracing the path from land-use to diet to health effects is an example of the power of data visualization to enable us to understand the forces shaping our lives.  Knowledge is power, and understanding where we are today as a society empowers us to think about where we want to go.  That is one of the main reasons I created Footprint USA.

Next up:  Part IV: Demographics

No comments:

Post a Comment