Read the full post at New York Times Green.
One of the most significant political problems facing campaigns against air pollution these days is this: by and large, you can’t see it. You can track its molecules, watch emergency room admissions go up and down as it waxes and wanes and estimate the number of lives shortened by it. But none of that provides the jolt of, say, a picture of a tornado’s path or a river on fire.
Back in 1948, when killer smog descended on Donora, Pa., it was a visible scourge. But carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless, so the eye is no judge of gauging when pollution is better or worse. That is, until the magic of digital data visualization is used.
That is what California’s Air Resources Board is now offering. This week, state air regulators announced a new online tool that mashes their data on statewide greenhouse gas emissions from the 625 or so largest polluters with images from Google maps. Anyone with a Web browser and Google Earth can “see” how much carbon dioxide or methane or other types of greenhouse gases each facility is sending into the atmosphere.