The Washington Post had an article in the Sunday paper that really did a nice job of laying out some of causes of the current world food crisis. It had an illustration that really works for me:
The Global Grain Trade: The Haves and Have-nots
This image makes it easy to see where the food supply problems are.
Another nice piece is this little interactive about Reasons for Rising Food Prices. It's nice when there is lots of blame to go around.
Note: these pieces aren't as affective as Charles Joseph Minard's graphic of Napoleon's Russian campaign, but they are pretty nice. Minard's illustration is a cold, futile journey across Europe. Just looking at it makes me cold and tired.
Visual designers who use really good information architecture can create graphics that do more than present information. They can tell compelling stories that help us all understand situations or events.