Sand mining viewed from above

Poyang Lake is China’s largest freshwater lake, but sand mining has changed its depth and structure, which messes up the ecosystem. Simon Scarr and Manas Sharma for Reuters used satellite imagery to show the scale and disruption of the mining activities.

The ships look like little bugs slowly eating away at the coastline.

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✚ Visualization Tools and Learning Resources, September 2021 Roundup

Every month I collect tools and resources to help you make better charts. Here’s the good stuff for September 2021.

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SVG pattern repository

For when you want to fill SVG polygons with patterns instead of or in combination with color, Thomas Michael Semmler has a copy-and-paste collection. It’s just the basics, but it’s a convenient reference that could provide a starting point at the least.

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Americans are dying too much

Derek Thompson for The Atlantic highlights recent research comparing mortality in America against rates in Europe:

According to a new working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Americans now die earlier than their European counterparts, no matter what age you’re looking at. Compared with Europeans, American babies are more likely to die before they turn 5, American teens are more likely to die before they turn 20, and American adults are more likely to die before they turn 65. At every age, living in the United States carries a higher risk of mortality. This is America’s unsung death penalty, and it adds up. Average life expectancy surged above 80 years old in just about every Western European country in the 2010s, including Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, and Switzerland. In the U.S., by contrast, the average life span has never exceeded 79—and now it’s just taken a historic tumble.

Find the full NBER paper here.

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A flag planted for every Covid-19 death

In fall 2020, Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg planted a flag for each American who died from Covid-19. There were over a quarter of a million flags at the time. The art installation is back at the National Mall, but this time there are over 660,000 flags. The scale is just…a lot.

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How Men and Women Spend Their Days

For the employed, unemployed, and those not in the labor force, these charts — using an oldie but goodie visualization layout — show the percentage of people doing an activity over a day in 2020.

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Using rates for more relatable Covid-19 numbers

With millions of Covid-19 deaths worldwide, and hundreds of thousands in the US, the absolute counts have been a challenge to relate to for a while. The Washington Post leaned into rates to communicate scale at the individual level. 1 in 500 Americans died from Covid-19 so far.

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Data visualization activities for kids

Nightingale has a kid’s section with printable visualization activities. Get the kids started early while they absorb information like a sponge.

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✚ Dot Patterns – The Process 157

Welcome to issue #157 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members about how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m admiring how dots can be used to show both high granularity and overall patterns.

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Humorous charts to organize thoughts

When I’m feeling confused about what’s going on around me, I gravitate towards making charts, so Michelle Rial’s book of charts, Maybe This Will Help: How to Feel Better When Things Stay the Same, resonates. It’s available for pre-order.

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