In 2010 New York City added 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (75% from buildings, the bulk of the rest from transport) but that number means little to most people because few of us have a sense of scale for atmospheric pollution.
Carbon Visuals, supported by Environmental Defense Fund, have created a film that makes those emissions feel more real - the total emissions and the rate of emission. Designed to engage the ‘person on the street’, this version is exploratory and still work in progress.
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. Mayor Bloomberg’s office has not been involved in the creation or dissemination of this video.
See how we can help cities engage their citizens in carbon issues.
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Street-level view of 10 metre (33 ft) spheres of carbon dioxide gas emerging at a rate of one every 0.58 seconds
For the technically minded:
In 2010 (the latest year for which data is available) New York City added 54,349,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere = 148,903 tons a day = 6,204 tons an hour = 1.72 tons a second.
City of New York, Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, September 2011, by Jonathan Dickinson and Andrea Tenorio. Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, New York, 2011
At standard pressure and 59 °F a metric ton of carbon dioxide gas would fill a sphere 33 feet across (density of CO₂ = 1.87 kg/m⊃3;).
If this is how carbon dioxide gas was actually emitted in New York we would see one of these spheres appear every 0.58 seconds.