Information Design

The Sixth Extincton Infographic

In response to the world's climate change dilemma, I created an infographic which shows how human activity is leading to our planet's next extinction event. It includes research about the five past extinction events. Additionally, it compares current scientific findings about the Earth's climate conditions to the conditions which existed during these past extinction events.

The Focus: Explaining Pictorially Rather Than with Words

My aim was to explain the connection between modern day climate change and past extinction events using minimal words. I wanted the design to be engaging to the eye so that the information was easy to take in and understand. While I planned to include longer explanations for the viewer to read should they be interested, I wanted the ideas of the poster to be easily conveyed through a brief look at the illustrations and iconography. I started the process by creating a process map to explain how all the vocabulary related to each other. Additionally, I sketched a draft of the infographic which played with the placement of the elements (Both seen above). I arranged the previous extinction events around the modern-day Holocene period Earth to bring emphasis to Holocene. However, in retrospect, the first draft devoted too much space to the extinction event timeline and did not give enough explanation.

The Process

After creating a sketch, I created a digital version of the same format, as seen above. After undergoing group critique, I decided to shrink the extinction event timeline and push it to the bottom of the poster to conserve space for more info about modern climate change issues. This would bring more a sense of urgency about the Earth's current situation and ensure the reader read the most important info first. Then, I represented the graph about rising sea levels with a water image below the data points and the graph about CO2 with a smoke image that corresponds with the data points. I placed icons next to each extinction event in the timeline in order to show what type of issues were involved with each event, so that they could be compared with the conditions of the modern Holocene period more easily. I also played a lot with opacity to help with readability, as much of the text would be placed over images. Overall, this project is one of my favorites as it hits on an important issue in a visually engaging manner.

Coded and Designed by Charles Andrews

Boston, MA | September 2019