Big Brother: Real-time CO2 emissions monitoring

Global warming will get even more Orwellian.

Forbes India reports:

… Corporations will spend billions of dollars in the coming years on carbon permits to comply with limits imposed on greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, California and elsewhere. Just how many carbon credits a steel mill or data centre might need to buy depends on accurate measurement of their emissions. Those emissions are currently self-reported and calculated according to a UN protocol based on computer models, or “inventories”, of carbon spew at a fixed point in time. As Picarro is learning, those models do not always represent reality.

Picarro has developed technology originally licensed from Stanford University that measures actual emissions continually. In Davos, Picarro put one desktop-computer-size machine in the Swiss hamlet and another in the surrounding mountains. The analysers suck in atmospheric gases, and a laser shoots a beam into an “optical cavity” to measure the unique frequency of carbon and methane molecules. Given that those molecules are absorbed at different wavelengths, the machine can measure the amount of absorption and calculate the concentration of greenhouse gases in parts per million.

“If emissions in a city are believed to be X … but then we find out that they’re X plus 40 percent, then we have a real problem,” says Michael Woelk, Picarro’s chief executive…

2 thoughts on “Big Brother: Real-time CO2 emissions monitoring”

  1. This is actually a great idea for the US! Studies have shown that the US absorbs more CO2 than it emits. In fact, almost all human CO2 emissions east of the Rocky Mountains are already absorbed before they reach the Great Plains.

    The CO2 detector as described above appears to have a fatal flaw: burning fossil fuels produces a different isotope of carbon than natural carbon emissions. If the detector can’t tell the difference, the whole effort is worthless to anyone, ‘green’ or not.

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