For the most part, when we consider carbon-dioxide [CO2] emissions, we deal in averages and estimates. Because the problem is so broad, averages make it somewhat easier to deal with.
Statistics, though, mean nothing to the individual. While it’s good to know that about 44% of the US power grid is powered by coal, releasing 1.9 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, it’s hard to tell what kind of impact that has on each of us, personally.
Researchers at Arizona State University [ASU] and Purdue University developed a tool that brings together a number of different streams of information and creates an interactive map of a given area.. The Hestia Project compiles data collected from building energy simulations, traffic patterns, power generation, and local pollution measurements, enabling an extremely detailed visualization of say, Indianapolis, IN, which has already been completely mapped, down to the block.
Kevin Gurney, associate professor at ASU and a senior scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability sums up the value of the Hestia project, “Cities have had little information with which to guide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – and you can’t reduce what you can’t measure. With Hestia, we can provide cities with a complete, three-dimensional picture of where, when and how carbon dioxide emissions are occurring.”
“Hestia offers practical information we can use to identify the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions and track progress over time,” Gurney said. “Scientists have spent decades describing the seriousness of climate change. Now, we are offering practical information to help do something about it.”
Researchers are still working on building the interface for the public, and will be targeted first to residents of Phoenix, AZ, Indianapolis, IN, and Los Angeles, CA. From their page, and I can’t wait to see it live, “The Hestia Project will quantify and visually simulate the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions in real time. This section will provide you with scientific information on carbon dioxide emissions from which you can make decisions about your choices and emissions.”