Think Globally, Map Locally
Now you can watch your city spew CO2 in 3D! Researchers at Arizona State University recently unveiled The Hestia Project, a modeling program that visualizes an urban area’s carbon dioxide emissions all the way down to roads and individual buildings. (Until now, planners and lawmakers have had to work with much broader data.) Aggregating information from public databases, traffic simulations, and building-by-building energy-consumption models, Hestia (named after the Greek goddess of hearth and home) has created dramatic high-resolution visual representations of Indianapolis, Indiana, with Phoenix and Los Angeles next in line. The researchers hope to cover all major urban areas in the U.S. eventually. According to the American Geosciences Institute, seventy-five percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use comes from cities.
As reported by Discovery News, “multi-colored columns resembling skyscrapers reveal where, when, and how greenhouse gases were emitted. The map breaks them down into three segments, one for residential areas, another for vehicles, and a third showing industrial, commercial, electricity production, and airports.” Those red columns towering over Indianapolis are hard to miss. The tallest pinpoint the city's international airport and a coal-burning power plant.
Image by the Hestia Project.
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”