Understanding 2022 in five infographics
Scientific news is events, advances, concerns, controversies, but also popularization efforts that suddenly become important because we have been able to illustrate them. Here are 5 news items that would have lost a lot of their value if their numbers hadn't been visible.
< strong>1) Declining life expectancy
On its own, the popular magazine Scientific American demonstrated last March that after two years of pandemic, the only way to overcome “COVID fatigue” was to sum it up visually. For example, the decline in life expectancy, one element among others of the still poorly understood footprint that this coronavirus will have left behind during its first year.
2) Greenland is melting
On the side of the climate crisis, there have been, again this year, many records broken, and these records, each year, are reflected in these rising curves. But of all records, the September Greenland Heat Anomaly is in a league of its own. Normally, September is when the winter ice begins to form again. This time, several consecutive days of rain accelerated the melting of part of the ice sheet. And some weather stations recorded, between September 3 and September 6, their highest temperatures, not of September, but of the year.
Extent of melting (in % of area). In blue: median 1981-2010, In red: 2022.
3) Warming up: one more red bar
Still on warming, but more classic, there's this bar chart, to which each new year adds a red bar to the right, making the effect more and more striking. In 2021, ground and ocean surfaces, averaged 0.84 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, and it was the 45th year in a row that the temperature was above average. Within a month, we should be able to confirm that 2022 will become the 46th, and one more red bar will be added to the right of the graph.
4) Holographic Black Hole and Quantum Computer
Editors of Nature have also chosen their favorite graphs of 2022, and one of them wins the prize for the most exotic, if not the most understandable: physicists imagined in 2022 a quantum computer which would generate an “emerging black hole”. “, through which would pass a message. It’s by virtue of this principle of quantum physics that says that two particles can be linked or “correlated”, even if they are very large distances apart.
5) Misinformation kills
Political partisanship shouldn't be a killer, and yet it is. In most countries, it is very difficult to distinguish what role a political party may have played in health choices from other factors. But the United States, with only two parties, and a social climate more polarized than ever, continued to provide in 2022 the opportunity to measure the impact of misinformation. After the association, observed the previous year, between the counties which had voted the most for Trump and those with the highest death rate from COVID, we learned in 2022 that the death rate in Republican counties was not only higher for major causes of death—cancer, heart disease, and even gun deaths—but the gap had widened since the 2000s.
< /p>Source: “Political Environment and Mortality Rates in the United States, 2001-19: Population Based Cross Sectional Analysis,” by Haider J. Warraich et al., in BMJ, June 2022.
As a bonus: the New York Times made an impressive popularization effort. The Gas Footprint greenhouse by city and town, across the United States. A way to subtly bring the “skeptics” or the “indifferent” to visualize a scientific fact, knowing that it is always more striking when it happens close to home.