The new YouTube video posted below uses computer modeling to show how and where carbon dioxide is expelled by U.S. industrial and mobile sources that rely on fossil fuels. The video is the result of Project Vulcan, funded by NASA and DOE, and researchers at Purdue University. The video has received widespread attention for its visual impact: by overlaying a map of the United States with the high-speed animation of CO2 emissions, it creates an impression of life — like you’re watching the country breathe.
According to Purdue, Project Vulcan is expected to complement a CO2-monitoring satellite that NASA is slated to launch late this year. According to the researchers involved, Project Vulcan reveals new details about the sources of CO2 emissions and the regions where emissions are most prevalent. It “makes utterly clear…that CO2 emissions cannot be exclusively affixed to SUV drivers, manufacturers or large power producers; everybody is responsible,” said Kevin Gurney, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric science at Purdue and the project leader. Although Gurney doesn’t want his team’s research “used to affix blame,” he hopes lawmakers will turn to it as they look for ways to address rising emissions levels. “Before now the only thing policymakers could do was take a big blunt tool and bang the U.S. economy with it,” Gurney said. “Now we have more quantifiable information about what is happening in neighborhoods, on roads and in industrial areas, and track the CO2 by the hour. This offers policymakers something akin to a scalpel instead.”