Deutsche Bank has erected a seven-story sign in the heart of New York City that ticks off the tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere — a public relations move designed to raise awareness of global warming.
Designed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and hanging outside Madison Square Garden, the giant counter shows that the amount of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere is at 3.64 trillion metric tons, the highest level in 800,000 years. Number whirring on the counter show that CO2 is being added to the atmosphere at the rate of 800 tons per second.
Unveiling the sign, Deutsche Bank officials said it was designed to highlight the crisis of global warming and the urgency of reducing CO2 emissions. “The minute you convert that (carbon) to a real-time number, it can serve as a backdrop to a lot of conversations,” said one Deutsche bank executive.
This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 at http://e360.yale.edu
Is the sign powered by NY city’s electric grid? Does Deutsche Bank say how much CO2 is the sign itself adding?
I wonder what the life cycle total emissions of the sing’s electronics and canvas’ fiber are.
Clearly the sign is adding a very tiny amount of the 800 tons per second.
Everything we do, from eating, to using a computer, to breathing, to farming generates CO2.
What is important is that people understand the total CO2 picture and this sign’s high profile boosts awareness in a very public way!
@Pablo Stop being foolish.
It takes energy to raise awareness. Just like it takes money to make money. The hope that is that awareness, education, and knowledge will translate into action that will reduce global CO2. People that complain about Al Gore’s CO2 emissions while traveling on an airplane miss the point entirely. Yes, an individual will have to emit CO2 to raise awareness, educate, and impart knowledge. But without some people making an effort to educate, we will never make the critical step of turning knowledge into action.
The promotion of environmental awareness will ultimately negate any negative effect the sign may have on the environment. I believe that readers need to research how we have arrived at this dangerous crossroad, and develop a lifestyle that will reverse the consumer based economy that now threaten all life. Here are a few examples:
1. Stop using plastic bags (plastic bags end up in our lakes, rivers, creeks, streams, and oceans through our storm water system).
2. Stop buy bottled water (bottled water is no better than tap water and empty bottles end up everywhere).
3. Stop eating at fast food restraunts (think globally act locally). Support businesses that are local, that give something back to the community.
4. Help ensure that future generations will enjoy a reasonable quality of life by working to protect, preserve, and conserve our natural resources.
Skeptical people ask shallow questions. It does little good to even take the time to answer them.
The undeniable proof of manmade global warming caused by burning fossil fuels becomes clearer every day.
I thank God for those of us who have the common sense and love of nature to accept it and advocate efforts to combat it.
You guys are right. Anything we do emits: breathing, typing on a computer, blogging, educating.
I believe, however, that there are ways more efficient, and emit less greenhouse gasses (GHGs), than others to type, blog, travel, educate, etc. – I am afraid there’s nothing we can do about breathing 🙂
In the case of this GHG counter sign, for example, solar power would reduce emissions. I don’t know whether they are using solar or not; hence my original questions about the grid.
Both of you (i.e. Jorden and Erasure) referred to education. I agree education and awareness are important. But I believe education should be aimed at teaching how to be more energy efficient, not at showing a number.
True, it could be argued that having an idea of how fast GHGs are being added to the atmosphere is important; but, in my opinion, having an idea of how to make that number grow slower is even more important.
If GHG awareness and education are the sign’s objectives, I believe that space should be allocated to teach how to curtail GHGs instead of using about 2/3 of it’s space to show a gigantic graph which, I believe, does little to educate. (I concede that, for some people, it’s easier to look at a graph than a number, so you don’t have to write back saying that the graph is, indeed, useful.)
I am not against raising awareness; I’m not against the sign. I am pro educating about energy efficiency and conservation. My original questions, if answered, would help me understand to what point the sign is energy efficient.
The Carbon Clock is great!
Public Awareness is needed. On a Large Scale like this helps.
This stands on it’s own for it’s own sake.
I guess what I want to know in the back of my mind, which is a seperate issue…
What is someone with the power like Deutsche Bank doing?
Is this a PR ploy to boost their stock? I sure hope not.
I would hope that they are planning to put up solar cells or such to power this clock just as a little example and they just haven’t got to it yet. I would hope that they would use this as an opportunity to show other banks all of the things that they personally are doing to change our energy generation and efficient use. That they are succeeding by true Green Investing and pulling the plug on investing in outdated problems. Can they show they have more invested in Green Technologies than Coal Plants? Basically are they making a real difference or are they trying to look green for investors? We’ve all seen so many “Fake Green” corporate ploys of saying one thing while all the time making money off the opposite. Does anyone know if these folks are real?
Thanks to all for your interest in the Carbon Counter. We at DB took energy consumption into account when designing the sign. It uses low-energy LEDs and any consumption is being offset with CERs. You can find more details here: http://www.dbcca.com/dbcca/EN/_media/dbcca_Factsheet_FINAL_6-17-09.pdf
You can find info about Deutsche Bank’s sustainability program at http://www.banking-on-green.com, and about DB Climate Change Advisors here: http://www.dbcca.com/dbcca/EN/about-us.jsp
Deutsche Bank Communications
You are missing so many points, I don’t know where to start:
1. The clock is a poster with a few LEDs on it. Not much energy consumption at all.
2. The fact that animals exhale CO2 does not add anything to the carbon in the atmosphere, since the origin of that carbon is from food (plants, and meat which gets its carbon from plants), which takes its carbon from the atmosphere in the first place. That is a closed cycle which adds nothing to the total.
3. Yes, there are many important things we need to educate about and call to action, like energy efficiency and and alternative energy. But there are still many people living in ignorance and affected by the previous administrations propaganda, for example about how CO2 is emitted from breathing…
oh, also, the clock transmits a sense of urgency: it is constantly going up, showing what is happening NOW. This is important, because the climate change issue is invisible.
Certainly this is looks like a big/scary number but I’m left with many questions. A few of them are:
1) Oceans store TREMENDOUS amounts of CO2 during cooling cycles of the earth and release them during warming periods (like the one we’ve been in since ~1800, the end of the ‘little ice age’). Do these calculations on the sign somehow distinguish between the two to show a net human-only fossil fuel burning contribution or does it include the oceans contributions (as well as other sources like volcanoes, etc.) which continue to dwarf those of man?
2) Plants use TREMENDOUS amounts of CO2 to survive. It is estimated that a field of corn growing in full sunlight in the middle of the day uses up all the carbon dioxide within a meter of the ground in about five minutes. NASA satellite images show that since the late 60’s, total plant life on earth has increased about 30% (resulting in some degree from rising temperatures combined with increasing CO2 levels). So my question is, what is the volume (in tons per second) that plants consume of CO2 and has this been included in the big/scary number on the sign? A follow-up question to this would be, since plant life is increasing, what is the estimated increase in tons/sec needed to sustain the increase in plant life.
Even if these components have been included, I am troubled by the implication of this number without context. We’re talking ‘atmosphere’ here so most numbers having anything to do with it are going to be monstrous – especially to the average person. CO2 levels have increased from 280 PPM to 380 PPM over the past 100 to 150 years. It is a ‘trace’ element. To put this in perspective, if you were to represent this amount in a pie chart showing all of the components of the atmosphere and if the chart were large enough to fit on a standard sheet of paper, CO2 would barely be a line in the pie (not even a sliver). And the majority of this tiny increase to this trace element came from the ocean and volcanoes. Even if humans were to continue at their increasing rate consumption – it will take 5 years to raise the levels from 380 PPM to 400 PPM (which is still nowhere near the earth’s highs of 1000 PPM as already recorded during period which most plant/animal life evolved and expanded).
Note: I have not mentioned other critical components to the discussion such as ‘positive feedback’ or whether CO2 is actually a pollutant or not. I’m trying to keep this short(ish) and on point – the scary number everyone will now look at every day.
So where did my information come from? Well, many sources but a great place to start would be the Senate Testimony given on Feb 25th, 2009 by William Happer (Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics – Princeton University).
Which leads me to my last question:
3) will my text/questions be posted or will they ‘accidentally’ get lost in the posting system?
You DO have too much time on your hands, Dave! 🙂
DB’s Carbon Counter is an advertising gimmick that exists primarily to raise viewers’ awareness of DB Climate Change Investors. “first asset manager to launch a climate change mutual fund in the US…” etc. at http://www.dbcca.com/dbcca/EN/about-us.jsp
Secondarily, though, we’re chatting about climate change, carbon in the atmosphere, lifestyle changes, the amount of CO2 that plants use (I didn’t know that!), and other environmental issues.
So, whether the numbers are completely accurate or not, we’re just a small portion of the total number of people who will look, wonder, comment – and maybe become more aware of – and do something about – their impacts on the earth. That’s a good thing!
Dave you are making sense your comments are not welcome here …. lol
I just want to say thanks for this interesting thread about Giant Carbon Clock Unveiled in Center of New York City | CleanTechies Blog – CleanTechies.com! Regards, Alexia Berater
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