Because I’m something of a graphics geek, one of my favorite books is Edward Tufte’s semi-cult classic, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which starts out with what Tufte calls the single greatest graphic ever done: Charles Minard’s 1869 map of Napoleon’s invasion of and retreat from Russia in the ill-considered campaign of 1812-1813. The main bar shows the size of the army along its way from France to Moscow and back again, and the graph at the bottom shows the temperature along the way:
If you don’t have a copy of Tufte handy, here’s a good description and explanation of the details of this famous chart.
Now, this came to mind in connection with a graphic of another campaign and potential rout, this time of
Emperor Napoleon’s President Obama’s stubborn opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. I had looked at official Department of Energy sources some months ago looking for maps of existing pipelines in the U.S., and although I found a few, I discovered that after 9/11, detailed pipeline maps, at least from U.S. government sources, were now hard to come by. But courtesy PennWell, and flagged for us by SmallDeadAnimals and Glenn Reynolds, behold the graphic that ought to cause Obama to retreat before his poll numbers on this issue track the temperature trend of Napoleon’s Grand Armee:
John Mauldin (registration required), offers several more at different levels of detail, displayed here. The first is just natural gas pipelines, about which Mauldin comments: “To say it looks worse than your grandmother’s varicose veins is no exaggeration. It is hard to find a state that does not have a natural gas pipeline. Without them the US would simply come to a grinding halt.”
The next one shows just major oil pipelines (in other words, excluding a lot of local 8 inch pipelines that criss-cross just about everywhere):