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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Thursday, 12 October 2017

More Data Journalism: Mapping The World's Greatest Machine

When we talk about fighting the causes of climate change there are many things one can do, from cutting down on meat to stopping to travel on intercontinental flights. However, in the mind of most, personal choices over climate change are often associated with a) renewable energy sources and b) electric cars.

There's a very good reason for that. In the US, electricity production is the main source of greenhouse gases, closely followed by vehicles (not only cars). These two can actually be thrown together in a single group if we consider there's an ever growing number of electric cars – and they have to get their electricity somewhere.

So where does American electricity come from? Here you have a gorgeous map, produced by Rosamund Pierce for Carbon Brief, to tell the story. And it's a crucial story, as shifting to a renewable model requires a revolution in the colours that populate this document.

Now, I'm a sucker for data journalism, and it would be hard for me to find a good piece of data journalism that wouldn't end up here. Despite that, this particular document is specially good, and that's because it's not just a map. It's the whole article teaching you how to read it. And it's the journalist's findings and reflections.

So, for example, in the map you'll see how thermal plants are clustered along state lines. That's cool to see, but in the text you'll get the explanation: The plants need the water of the big rivers that usually run along boundaries as coolant.

"[Changes in the energy mix] reflect not only federal policy, but also technologies, geographies, markets and state mandates."

If the map and the article were not enough, read on and you'll find a number of interactive and animated infographics to explain how the American energy landscape is changing.

I can only imagine the amount work Ms. Pierce has put into this piece. I hope that, one day, we can have a similar piece on the EU.

I bet it would hold some surprises.

More Data Journalism: Mapping The World's Greatest Machine
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