This infographic, provided by the blog of Earth Touch, examines just how much the wetlands of the world have been eroded by the cold touch of humanity. But, let’s get some definitions out of the way first, says the graphic. What exactly is a wetland? Is the ground near a creek that runs by the outside of your office a wetland, for instance? Possibly, but not necessarily. A wetland is defined as an area of land with soil that is either permanently or seasonally saturated with moisture. Such areas may also be covered partially or completely by shallow pools of water. Wetlands include bogs (areas of land so dirty even Wade Boggs can’t stand them), marshes, swamps, mangroves, salt pans, and estuaries.
Ok, now be honest, do you know the difference between all of those wetlands? I personally did not until I looked them up. I suggest you do the same by searching either Wikipedia or Citizendium to refresh you memory. I’d be surprised if the average American actually knew the differences between a salt pan and a mangrove off the top of his or her head. Can you honestly say that you did without looking it up?
Many disturbing facts about wetlands have been revealed in this graphic. Here are some sure to make your head hurt. 50% of global wetlands have now been lost or totally eradicated. This is, shall we say, very bad, especially when you consider that 1/3 of the water we drink comes from wetland areas. Some more bad news: 65% of the fish we eat reside in wetlands, so the more wetlands are depleted, the less fish we have to eat.
Let’s move on to the grading portion now.
The design pulls you in, but it doesn’t knock you off your feet. It’s not that this graphic is unappealing, it just isn’t extraordinary. As a result, we can’t in good conscience let it cross the border into A territory.
Many facts are displayed in “delightfully” (if you’re into that whole, “let’s destroy our environment” craze) detail. But the graphic lacks flow and organization. Facts are splattered on the graphic, seemingly at random. The graphic shifts abruptly from talking about how damaged our environment has become thanks to the destruction of wetlands to talking about how oysters are improving the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality. Top-tier infographics have a lucid narrative: they don’t just throw a bunch of factoids on a page. This graphic slightly misses the mark, in that regard.