Scales of Devastation

Friday, November 25th, 2011

I was trying to get my head around the scale of the Thailand floods. So I did.

See the result in my visualisation column for the Guardian Datablog.

The data has other numbers we couldn’t quite visualise. See here:

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  • dangerouspenguin

    This is interesting on a geographic scale, but completely missing the human dimension of disaster. Can you make the same square for people affected (or maybe people immediately affected) and compare?

  • kathan

    I would also like to see this same diagram in terms of people affected and/or human lives lost. I think the squares would change dramatically. Don’t know how to quantify the environmental concerns, perhaps in terms of years to return to ‘normal’??

  • Carlos

    I’m from Chile, i love the page and the graphics, but please fix the name of my country in the devastation chart! we also deserve respect! thank you, besides that, awesome job!

  • Andrew

    Striking graphic, shame about the misspelling of “Chile”.

    • Alex, Editor

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for pointed the typo out to us. Blame our chubby fingers.

      We’re fixing now.


  • a+

    While I like your approach and your site a lot, I’m a little worried about the lack of information value in this graph. Area size does not matter in several of the disasters you pin to numbers here. The dangerouspenguin said something about human dimensions, which are possibly to be visualized by something like “affected people”. Simplest (and unfortunately not quite right) approach: average population density per square kilometer multiplied by affected area.

    You could also point to an economic impact: for several of your cases, some figures exist. (Not that I really like to pinpoint disasters to money, mind.) Just in case anybody is interested: Nikon has already stated they will have a income loss of 321 million US$ due to the Thailand flooding.
    This was a major WTF for me.

    There would also be numbers for the Tōhoku, I presume. If you would set up a gDoc, I’ll try to contribute.