2022 Excellence in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium Newsroom winner

Mapping where the earth will become uninhabitable

About the Project

On April 4th 2022, the IPCC published their most recent report on climate change. According to the report, the planet is currently looking at global warming levels of more than 3°C, which would have detrimental consequences for life on earth.

On the same day, the Interactives Team of Funke Mediengruppe (GER) published a project that illustrates the gravity of these consequences. Regions where climate change is projected to make life hard or impossible by the end of the century are visualized on a 3D globe with colors indicating the level of exposure to certain climate-change related effects: heat, sea level rise, water stress and tropical cyclones. Three-dimensional columns across the globe indicate the number of people living in the area.

Next to a more guided scrollytelling containing the most important context and information, the website also features an “explore” option that readers can use to interact with the data and visualization themselves. They can explore the far-reaching consequences for selected aspects of climate change (heat, sea level rise, water stress, tropical cyclones) across the world, both for today and projections for the year 2100. Additionally, regions and states that are expected to be hit hardest are listed. Users can choose a specific country to understand which regions within the country are most affected by the different climate change effects and how many people would be exposed to these events based on today’s population.

An extensive FAQ was added to explain jargon and basic concepts of climate research and policy, such as “RCP”s, “climate model” and more.

In conclusion, different aspects of climate change and its effects are communicated in a simple and engaging manner: interactive elements allow users to dig into details, and the narrative elements offer an overview that is to the point. Readers understand not only what the consequences of climate change are and where, but also how many people will be affected by this.

Judges Comments

“One of the most striking and immediately useful visual tools the judges have seen. From the framing of the story, the unification of the myriad impacts of climate change and the ability to scale from a global perspective to a local perspective, this is the kind of digital native storytelling judges would love to see from news outlets in the future.”