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Your help is needed: Scientist seeks help in mapping global emissions

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Global warming, along with carbon dioxide emissions are a major ecological concern. The chief problem in tracking who or what company is responsible, however, is described as "Sketchy." Good data exists for the United States, Canada, India and the European Union. The rest of the world - not much is known. To this end, a college professor is asking for the public's help in finding power plants.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Arizona State University atmospheric scientist Kevin Gurney says he's mapping carbon dioxide emissions around the globe and is asking for the public's help. 

Seeing as power plants account for more than 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, Gurney wants more information on the 25,000 plants scattered around the world.
 
Gurney is frustrated with how so many of these plants remain under the radar. "In fact, it's so inaccurate that it is really insufficient for the type of science that we're trying to do," he said. 

Studying how carbon dioxide moves around the earth and affects global climate change, Gurney's project is called Ventus, Latin for "wind." He has set up a Web site where you can zoom in and drop a virtual pin on the power plant map that shows your location.

Gurney then wants participants to provide an accurate address and other details about the plant.

"We just need the amount of electricity generated at a power plant," Gurney explains. "We also need to know the primary fuel. And with those two things we can actually create a better estimate of CO2 emissions than we do right now." 

Gurney says the uploaded data will be included in a virtual map of CO2 emissions in 10-kilometer squares across the planet. "We will produce the emissions on a map, every hour, every year, he notes. "We will use that within models of climate change to more accurately characterize emissions, greenhouse gas concentration and the projections of those concentrations into the future." 

The very first version of the map will go online in the coming months. The map will be updated as information is received.

Gurney hopes the project will help to better inform policy makers and the public, and create advocates for change.

"I think that the power of bringing that information to the scale at which people live, allowing them to see it on a map, contribute information about this real physical thing that is around them, tends to lessen the abstraction of this problem. It makes it more real."

There's also a quirky reward offered. The citizen scientist who provides the most usable information will be named Supreme Power Plant Emissions Guru, an honor which comes with a trophy and listing as a co-author on a scientific paper about the project.

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