As if New York City’s national debt clock wasn’t depressing enough, the city is now the proud bearer of a 50-foot high sign with a digital display tracking the greenhouse gases entering our atmosphere. In addition to scaring the living daylights out of anyone who passes by Madison Square Garden, the sign is an advertisement for Deutsche Bank, which has a Climate Change Advisers group to help companies benefit from a low-carbon and climate change-affected world.
The real-time carbon counter adds up the effects of all greenhouse gases, including heavyweights like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and translates them into their carbon dioxide equivalents–presumably because CO2 is by far the best known greenhouse gas of them all. The counter doesn’t take into account aerosols or natural cycles like El Nino, but it does use economic indicators and adjusts as new gas measurements become available.
Deutsche Bank’s carbon counter is scary, to be sure, but will it incite people to act? Scientific American’s informal poll of local reactions ranged from the nonplussed to the freaked out. Still, as the carbon counter becomes a more permanent fixture, people might start to ignore it. The sign could become a symbol of hopelessness; with trillions of tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, it’s hard to fathom how a single person could make a difference. That’s not to say individuals can’t make a difference–just that scare tactics like this might not be the best way to get people to track their carbon footprints.
[Via Scientific American]