Greenhouse gas emission caps are useful in theory, but there's a problem: Emissions calculations are made based on the raw materials that go into power plants and factories using a technique known as "predictive modeling", and not on the actual greenhouse gases released in energy production or manufacturing. Enter Earth Networks (formerly AWS Convergence Technologies), a company that plans to move beyond static emissions measurements by building the world's first commercial greenhouse gas measurement network.
Earth Networks—the company behind the popular WeatherBug application—is teaming up with the Scripps Institute of Technology to build the network, which will see 100 emissions-measuring instruments installed worldwide over the next year and a half. The company will use a technique called "inverse modeling," which combines real-time weather data with atmospheric data from the sensors, to figure out where carbon dioxide and methane gases are coming from and where they are headed.
Earth Networks is investing $25 million over the next half decade to build out the network and establish the Earth Networks Center for Climate Research at the Scripps Institution. Earth Networks anticipates moving beyond just CO2 and methane to other gases in the future.
Only one sensor has been installed so far—at Scripps in La Jolla, California—but Earth Networks plans to start charging commercial customers for its services in the near future. Once more sensors are up and running, the possibilities for tracking emissions are nearly limitless. The company's sensors could, for example, be used to make sure that countries and companies are following local greenhouse gas emissions requirements. The challenge is, of course, to ensure that enough commercial customers care about their emissions for Earth Networks to turn a profit.