Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Where That Giant Coal Fire Is Coming From

The main thrust of trying to reduce global warming- or global climate change, or whatever term you wish- is reducing carbon emissions. In order to do so, one must first figure out where the emissions are coming from. And most of that has, to date, come from targeting specific items- a car here, a lightbulb there. If one wanted to figure out how much of an impact they personally have, they could, but asking someone to calculate their own 'carbon footprint' is a tad on the labor-intensive side, and a matter of self-reporting. Doing so on a large scale has gotten blurry in a bit of a hurry, with world maps generally being the order of the day.

Researchers at Arizona State have figured out a way to change that. A new system they've developed, called Hestia, allows them to see annual carbon emissions as a bar graph on a street level, with residences, commercial and industrial areas, and streets individually marked. They're going city-by-city; the picture in the article shows the first city they've done, Indianapolis, and are working on Los Angeles and Phoenix next. (If you notice one big bar shooting up way past everything else on the Indianapolis map, that's their coal plant, the locally notorious Harding Street Generating Station.)

The next step in Arizona State's plan is to have this done for every major American city, allowing covered cities to see exactly where the problem areas are. Which, it should be noted, is how Google Street started out.

The website for Hestia is here.

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