There's nothing intrinsically wrong with any type of chart, you just have to use them correctly. You also need to carefully consider that most people can't easily read charts so you need to remove all ambiguity from them. Pie charts are good for showing percentages of a whole, where there are not too many categories as to make it illegible. The worst crime of pie chart usage is to use multiple pie charts for time series. e.g. comparing the profit % this year with the profit last year % can be misleading if the total revenue has changed significantly.
Everybody loves to jump on the Tufte piechart bashing bandwagon, I've seen some very apt usage of pie charts, like this example.
I'm not sure about that. My household consumption is so out of whack in the energy report comparison my electric utility sends me that I find it really hard to believe its using good comparables. I don't think, for example, that it's enough to show comparisons between houses on the same block. My house is virtually the same as the one two doors down -- except there only two people are in residence and here five (and six when my daughter is home from college). That's generally three times the amount of laundry being done, and dishes, and cooking, etc. Plus there's the fact that I work in a home office, and so on.
Noreen - Whoa boy. I guess this falls into the "good" data visualization but showing a bad result. About the only improvement that would help the visualization is to put a piece of toast on the Really Scary Things row next to the "Ocean floor methane released causing runaway climate change. Possiblity of mass extinction."
At least it will only take up to 300,000 years to re-absorb the atmosphere's CO2 and we can start over again.
One of the most helpful data representations I receive comes in the form of our electricity and water bill. At the back of the bill you get two graphs showing the national average for water and electricity consumption for my house type along with my monthly consumption. This generates awareness. Inevitably if I have consumed more than the national average I would become more conscious about that fact. The next month I would most likely try to conserve more.