Carbon Quilt — Want A More Visceral Sense Of The Scale Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Take A Look Here

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Not exactly clear what the numbers and figures put out there by various scientific bodies actually mean? Want to get a more visceral sense of the scale of modern anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions?

Then I recommend that you take a look at the Carbon Quilt — a visualization resource created for just such a purpose.

As an interesting example of what the site offers, take a look at the image/tweet below — depicting London’s CO2 emissions next to a number of well-known landmarks.

If you’re curious at all, I think checking out the Carbon Quilt is worth the time. 🙂

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

4 thoughts on “Carbon Quilt — Want A More Visceral Sense Of The Scale Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Take A Look Here

  • It’s a difficult concept to wrap ones mind around. Scaling to solid mass doesn’t help me wrap my brain around it as emissions are clearly distributed. hmmm

    • Here’s what they did. I had to unclog my brain synapses to do this exercise for you. Given that brood in the photo to the left of your name, you don’t have much time for getting into the details – except pithy comments made regularly.

      Ma = Mass of atmosphere = 5.1 x 10^18 kg (see link below)

      MWa = Molecular weight of the atmosphere = 28.97 g/mole (average for components, see link below)

      na = moles of atmosphere = Ma / MWa * 1,0000 = 1.76 x 10^20 moles

      The concentration of carbon dioxide last month is 401.3 ppm (make this 400). This is actually a mole fraction or 400 moles of CO2 per 1,000,000 moles of atmosphere.

      nco2 = moles of carbon dioxide = 400 / 1,000,000 * 1.76 x 10^20 = 7.04 x 10^16 moles

      The ideal gas law works well for dilute solutions below 2 atm – so on earth it works nicely. PV = nRT. To calculate volume ist V = nRT/P

      P = 1 atm

      n = 7.04 x 10^16 moles carbon dioxide

      R = ideal gas constant, 8.2 x 10-5 m^3 atm/mol K

      T = 288 K = see source linked below

      V = 1.65 x 10^15 m3 or 1.65 x 10^6 km3

      This would be a cube of carbon dioxide with a height of 112.7 km

      The carbon quilt website discussed the post had a carbon dioxide of 116.2 km

      I’m always right so they are off by 4 km. Kidding. I rounded up or down to move this discussion along.

      Here’s my data source from nasa:

      • I feel lazy that I didnt just calc it up myself…nothing like a bit of stoichiometry to get the blood flowing. Thanks for scaling it for me 🙂

  • Presumably the blue is the volume of liquid CO2 for a years emissions.
    That “quilty” thing on the right, I’m guessing by the curvature it is either UK or world emissions (just a part of the sphere).

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