CO2 Mashup – Largely Hot Air

| April 8, 2008

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Word via io9 that Purdue has put together a map of the US showing their guess of CO2 emission density.

They call the System “Vulcan” and it’s interesting because there is no sensor grid for CO2. Instead Vulcan derives a guess on CO2 density from local air pollution data from the EPA sensor grid. (here as well)

To create the Vulcan maps, the research team developed a method to extract the CO2 information by transforming data on local air pollution, such as carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions, which are tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and other governmental agencies.

While it’s fun that they are trying to show this data, the science behind it is (in my opinion) quite flawed. First off, they do not have the means of directly measuring CO2, so they take a guess based on other air pollutants. One thing that drives me insane is opaque scientific data. If you are confident in your approach, share the source data and let us “trust but verify”. Who knows how they cooked up their guess?

A preliminary analysis of the Vulcan data suggests that previous maps of U.S. fossil fuel emissions were inadequate for current scientific and policy-making needs, Gurney says.

“When you compare the old inventories to Vulcan, the new data show atmospheric CO2 differences that are as large as five parts per million in some U.S. regions in the late winter,” he says. “The levels in the global atmosphere only rise one and a half part per million every year, so this is the equivalent of three years of global emissions in the atmosphere that isn’t where we thought it was. This will be important for policy-makers and is enormous from a scientific point of view. It’s shocking.”

Anyone surprised that they are finding data that shows things are more severe than they thought? Give me a break people, how about some scientific honesty here?

Gurney is Kevin Gurney of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center (PCCRC). He is also the author of “Mending the Ozone Hole“, which was another big scare in the 90’s that caused massive misallocation of capital for something that turned out not to be a real problem after all.

I am surprised not to see massive CO2 “red spot” in eastern central California; an area of heavy volcanic emission of CO2, Carbon Monoxide and other “green house gasses”. This omission alone calls the accuracy of this visualization into question.

Professor Gurney – how about CO2 uptake as well? Did you take vegetation into account in your models? The sad truth is we just don’t know do we? We get the “cooked” data and have to trust someone who clearly is pushing an agenda. Advocacy journalism is bad, advocacy science is much worse (almost as bad as advocacy intelligence).

If I could wish for something here, it would be for the Global Warming shills on the take from “Big Green” would be more transparent in their sources and methods, and allow everyone who is skeptical to either convince themselves or point out the flaws.

A system such as Vulcan will be an important tool to understanding our lack of understanding of emissions and what impact (if any) they have on the environment. But it will require transparent methods for data collection, aggregation and display to be credible in what has become a politically driven, agenda subscribing sector of atmospheric science.

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Category: Climate Change, Commentary, Environment, Main, Mashups, Visualizations

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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