Visualizing controversy

on climate change

A Digital Humanity project aiming at de-fuzzing the controversy on climate change about deforestation.

IPCC data on food fibre and forest products

The project is the result of the Integrated Course Final Synthesis Studio at Politecnico di Milano A.Y. 2011/12.

The natural system is strictly bonded to production processes through a series of two-way relations. The productive system, nonetheless, strongly depends on climate, soil and natural resources for it’s well-being. Earth’s current rise in CO2 levels, and consequently in temperature, is having a harsh effect on its croplands and pastures.



Course reference

Final Synthesis Studio | MsC in Communication Design | Politecnico di Milano

Project Team

Professor: Paolo Ciuccarelli

Designers: Lorenzo Apriliano | Achille Calegari | Guido Chiefalo | Alex Piacentini | Giacomo Traldi | Laura Varisco

Scenarios for environmental futures

Predictions about future climate change scenarios point out substantial differences in production levels from those we are used to. While moderate warming may be beneficial to crop and pasture yields in mid-to-high regions, it will have an adverse effect in low-latitude regions which will immediately face a drop in production. Still, if global warming will continue it’s actual rush, every region will be strongly affected in it’s production capabilities, and SRES’ 4 scenarios define at which exact point in time a sudden drop in production is due, described as the “critical point”. Apart from temperature, farming and forestry production is also severely influenced by the increased frequency and harshness of extreme climate events, as proven by the unexpected drought that Europe faced in 2003. Food trade is foreseen to increase in response to climate change, with increased reliance of low latitude countries on food import. 

We have four: pick one

These four scenarios are modeled after different socio-economic models. Every model’s trend is defined by different environmental and productive sociopolitical choices.


Deforestation is one of the main causes of atmosphere’s Co2 increase. REDD is an initiative of climate change mitigation that provides investment of funds in forest protection towards developed and developing countries. Funds management, fund receivers, human rights of indigenous people and the still unresolved question about ethical use of carbon credits represent just a glimpse of internal disputes to the program REDD.

From a first overview and analysis, it became clear that geography plays a main role in REDD’s macro-controversy. A new map about REDD was then conceived around three main questions: Which countries talk about REDD ? Which countries are named in REDD’s discussion ? How REDD is discussed in all these countries ? To answer these questions geo-localization and semantic analysis was applied to web pages talking about these controversies. The goal is to understand countries’ voices and relations that occur in discussing these nations, and to finally confront every country about the on-going “REDD’s discussion”.


Final storytelling video for the communication of the research results.