The HQCasanova Weekly CO2 API is incredibly simple. It’s also a frighteningly clear measurement of how our planet is doing. It measures the level of CO2 in the air in parts per million (ppm), a major player in causing global climate disruption. In an interview we conducted over email, Hector Quintero Casanova explained that he was prompted to write it,
“…because I couldn’t believe that such simple yet important data wasn’t already being served by someone else, let alone public institutions such as NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory itself. At least not in the straightforward way I was expecting. Also, I needed a CO2 counter for my own website that I could embed in the HTML.”
He notes further that there is a graphical read out available at co2now.org, but he wanted a numerical version.
Taking data from the RSS feed of the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the API returns plain text. I usually include colorful graphics in my posts. Today, the truth comes in black and white. Here’s a measurement I took with the API for January 28, 2013:
Did I say incredibly simple? To get updated data to the above readout, just type www.hqcasanova.com/co2/all into the address bar on your browser, and voila! If you want just the number for the weekly read out, put www.hqcasanova.com/co2. If you want just average one year ago, you would use www.hqcasanova.com/co2/1. Using www.hqcasanova.com/co2/10 gives just the average 10 years ago.
But how do we make sense of the results? 350.org, as many know, is the group whose name represents the upper limit, the top number of ppm of CO2 that our environment can tolerate having in the air. By that measure, the current readout of 395.64 ppm is 46 higher, about 13% higher than it should be. And nearly half of those parts per million, 20 of them according to the readout above, have arrived in the last decade. To put it more graphically, here’s a chart over time. The left hand side shows the increase in ppm from about 1975. The baseline pre-industrial level was 280 ppm. The right hand side of the graph shows the same increase in percentage terms.
During World War II, as Winston Churchill was giving one inspirational speech about Britain’s finest hour after another, he had a special team of officers to keep him informed of exactly how the war was going, charging them with the responsibility for unvarnished delivery of both the good and the bad news. That’s how he simultaneously spurred people on while adjusting strategy to match the level of the task at hand.
HQCasanova can serve the role of one of those officers in our own time, keeping us up to date on what direction we are headed in and how far we have to go.