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California Installs World’s First Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network

Elusive greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals be damned–California is about to take decisive action and set up the first statewide GHG monitoring system. The network is being built using GHG monitors from Picarro, which up until this point has only sold monitors for research purposes.

California will start out by installing seven of the $50,000 desktop PC-sized Picarro devices around the state to monitor methane emissions. In the next few months, the devices will be placed atop towers in the San
Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys (hotbeds of agriculture and oil fields), and outside LA on Mount Wilson. Seven devices may not sound like enough to cover the whole state, but the single Picarro machine on top of Mount Wilson, for example, can track emissions throughout the LA basin.

If all goes well with Picarro’s devices, California hopes that they can be used in complying with the state’s law that greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. The Picarro set-up will likely be watched closely by other states as well. According to Picarro’s chief executive, Michael Woelk, the U.S. would need 500 to 700 devices to cover the entire country. It’s a big investment-especially for cash-starved California–but with so much government money already going towards renewable energy, it would be helpful to know if we’re actually succeeding in cutting down on emissions.

[Via New York Times]

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