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Last week I attended a conference that considered the scale of the challenge of climate change facing us all.  There was a lot of talk about achieving ‘carbon neutrality’ and reducing the ‘carbon footprint’ of our buildings. It’s a very important consideration as buildings are estimated to be responsible for 75% of carbon emissions. 

Rather memorably one speaker said “The problem is that carbon dioxide is invisible.  If we could see the carbon dioxide I’m sure we would all have owned and addressed the problem by now – rather like the Victorians did with the problem of urban sewage!”

Two days later I stumbled across an amazing film which has tackled this very problem of CO2’s invisibility.  It seeks to communicate the scale of the problem in New York city by visualising the city’s actual CO2 generation based on the latest available annual data.

The amazing film by Carbon Visuals and the Environmental Defense Fund shows the hourly, daily and total annual emissions – a staggering 54 million metric tons! – in the city.  Whilst the originators describe it as ‘still work in progress’ it’s an amazing and truly memorable achievement.

One hour’s CO2 emissions

One year’s CO2 emissions

One year’s CO2 emissions

The facts:

54,349,650 million tons a year = 148,903 tons a day = 6,204 tons an hour = 1.72 tons a second

At 59 °F a metric ton of carbon dioxide gas would fill a sphere 33 feet across

Emissions in 2010 were 12% less than 2005 emissions. The City of New York is on track to reduce emissions by 30% by 2017 – an ambitious target.

To see the youtube movie please see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtqSIplGXOA&feature=youtu.be

For more images from the movie please see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonquilt/sets/72157631827283027/

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