Next, an American researcher is making an appeal to what he calls "citizen scientists." Would you like to participate?
These scientists are seeking more information about gasses that traps heat in the atmosphere. They have launched a project in an effort to better understand how one such gas, carbon dioxide, affects climate change. The project will depend on people just like you providing information about all of the world's power plants. June Simms joins us with the details.
Kevin Gurney is an atmospheric scientist at Arizona State University. He is making a map of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Power plants are major producers of those gases. They are believed to cause more than 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Kevin Gurney says there is good information about emissions in the United States, Canada, India and the European Union. But, he says, estimates for the rest of the world are not complete.
"And if fact, it's so inaccurate that is really insufficient for the type of science that we're trying to do."
Kevin Gurney's project is called Ventus, a word that means ‘wind' in Latin. He has set up a website where people around the world can provide information about power stations.
"We need two pieces of information. We need the amount of electricity generated at a power plant, which if you live near one or you know somebody that works there, that information is pretty readily available. Most people will know that. We also just 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."
The Ventus project database currently lists about 25,000 power plants. Mr. Gurney says there are plants missing from the list. He is asking others to provide the missing information. One of the project's goals is to create a regularly updated map of carbon dioxide emissions everywhere in the world.
"We will produce the emissions on a map, every hour, every year. 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 first version of the map will be available on the Ventus website within the next several months, the map will be amended as new information is received. Kevin Gurney says he hopes it will help better inform policy makers and the public. He also expects citizens engaged with the project to become activists for change.
The Arizona researcher wants citizen scientists to register on the website. The person who provides the most usable information will be named Supreme Power Plant Emissions Guru. That honor comes with an award and recognition as a co-author on a scientific paper about the project. I'm June Simms.
Thanks, June. By the way, you can see the map on the Ventus website. The scientists change it as new information comes in. Kevin Gurney says he hopes it will help better inform policy makers and the public. He also expects citizens engaged with the project to become activists for change.