Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Destroying the Rainforests

The Reuters news agency has created a number of very powerful visualizations showing the rate at which rainforests are currently being destroyed around the world. In Vanishing Tropical Rainforests Reuters show where and at what rate we are chopping down the world's largest living store of greenhouse gas. Effectively removing our very last chance of avoiding catastrophic global climate change.

Every two minutes 135,042 meters of rainforest are chopped down. Comprehending large numbers can be very difficult so Reuters uses an image of a rainforest to help convey the scale of this destruction. As you scroll through Vanishing Tropical Rainforests an image of a rainforest updates to show the level of destruction carried out every four seconds. This creates an effective visualization of the size of the 135,042 meters being removed form the planet every two minutes.

Reuters also uses a number of map comparisons to help explain the scale of deforestation currently taking place across the world. One map overlays the outline of New York over a satellite image of a rain forest to show the scale of rainforest removed every day (97 square km). An outline of Greater London is used to help show the scale of the amount of rainforest destroyed every week (683 sq km). The outline of the entire country of Belgium is used to show how much rainforest was cut down in 2019 (683 sq km). 

Later in the article Reuters uses a number of scaled squares to show the size of the rainforests in the Amazon, Central Africa, Borneo and Sumatra. Other embedded squares are then used to show the percentage of each of these forests which have been destroyed in the last 18 years and the percentage of these forests which have been degraded over the same period. Since the 1950s over 89% of the rainforests in Borneo and Sumatra have been destroyed or degraded. 

The South American rainforests represent the largest tropical rainforests still remaining. Brazil has the largest area of tropical rainforest. It is also the country where the most rainforest is currently being destroyed.

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