What New York City Would Look Like If Carbon Emissions Were Solid

Imagine if carbon wasn’t a formless gas, but rather a solid ball. We’d be forced to deal with our emissions problem much faster, because look at what would happen to New York as the carbon piled up.

Fast Company has a great graphic depiction of what carbon gases would look like if they were solid balls. We be able to clearly see how much of our air is taken up with carbon emissions. One of the many reasons why people fail to acknowledge the seriousness of greenhouse gas emissions is that they’re invisible. You can’t see carbon dioxide piling up on the street; you can only see the disasters that happen in the wake of climate change. A project from Carbon Visuals and the Environmental Defense Fund imbues emissions with a sense of physicality by showing what it would look like if New York City was literally covered in its CO2 emissions (depicted in the video below as blue bubbles).

Should this scare you? Sure, but New York already cut down its emissions in 2010 by 12% compared to 2006 emissions. The city is also working to slash emissions 30% by 2017. As Yale e360 points out, the city is a model of environmental responsibility compared to most other areas in the U.S. As of 2009, the metro NYC area emitted 7.1 metric tons of greenhouse gases per person annually, which is 30% less than the U.S. average. And according to the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability report, NYC is responsible for fewer emissions than even “green” cities like San Francisco.

Cities are responsible for 70% of all emissions worldwide, though, so there is still plenty of room for improvement–and not just in NYC. Even though it’s not so tangible, all cities are currently engulfed in that giant pyramid. It might be time to dig ourselves out.

ARIEL SCHWARTZ Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more. 


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Written by Lorenzo

Lorenzo has been hanging around the RDNY.com office for the past 20 years, and, in the process, has become the president of RDNY.com, Rent-Direct.com, and Acmelistings.com. His mission is to build RDNY.com into New York's largest no fee apartment rental service. Before RDNY.com, Lorenzo was a Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc., one of New York's largest converters of rental buildings to coops and condos. Lorenzo was once a part owner of Swift & Watson Real Estate in NYC's Greenwich Village.

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