Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Show HN: Carbon Doomsday – Graph and API of Earth's Carbon Dioxide (carbondoomsday.com)
118 points by titojankowski 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments

You might want to clarify that the data you're plotting are from a ground-based station on Mauna Loa. One symptom of this is that your plot does not have a title or y-axis label.

Similarly, the "global" CO2 number you display as text may be (?) an average of selected ground-based stations.

CO2 varies with altitude, and with time and spatially, of course. The ground-based stations give part of the picture, but there are also various total-column CO2 measurements, prominently from TCCON (http://tccon.ornl.gov/), and remote-sensing measurements (https://co2.jpl.nasa.gov/).

This is why clarifying what you mean by "global CO2" is important. In the light of the sophistication of what's out there, it might be good to think about where you're trying to add value.

Great suggestion, thanks! We will expand upon that in our Data Sources section, and also improve the labeling on the graph.

Oops, the TCCON link I gave is dead. Use instead: https://tccon-wiki.caltech.edu, or http://www.ndsc.ncep.noaa.gov.

The domain is "carbondoomsday". Expecting reliable objective anything from such a site is naive.

We chose "carbondoomsday" to be provocative, and to push into a silly level of seriousness about climate change. Similar to http://blog.ycombinator.com/why-toys/

Sometimes, faced with a fate such as this, all one can do is laugh.

Why not let the data speak for itself? To be honest the "provocative" tone you take makes me trust you a lot less.

Nice enough design work. But as someone who works in the climate data space I think there isn't much value add here. CO2 data is already free and open and not challenging to use. It seems like a half-wasted use of electricity and contributors time to just show data and not have any call to action or resources for how to do something about the problem. From the branding and social media integration I am guessing there isn't any deep interest in actually _doing something_ about carbon emissions. It feels like the villager who is screaming about a house on fire instead of joining in the bucket line.

Something like ClimateWatch[0] is actually building a strong platform for aggregating disparate data sources around climate change, GHG emissions, climate resilience practices, and multinational legislation. Granted ClimateWatch isn't built by an online community of volunteers, but maybe it is something to look at for further inspiration.


What are the things people can actually do - realistically the only way to fix this is a carbon tax that includes the environmental costs of burning carbon. Becoming vegetarian on an individual level will basically be a drop in the ocean, there are not enough people going to change.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKCuDxpccYM

Actually one of the only realistic things you can do is advocate a large scale rollout of nuclear power to replace coal, primarily in the US, China and India.

I'm not advocating dinosaur approaches like the AP-1000, but instead new, innovative designs like that championed by ThorCon Power.


"A comparison of all offered sources of nuclear found ThorCon’s power to be 4 to 5 cents per kWh lower than the competition and the only clean source of non-intermittent power that was competitive with coal."

What's realistic about calling for a large-scale rollout of something which has never been built, in an industry where cost-overruns are typical? Shouldn't you build at least one before betting the farm on it?

Meanwhile, coal is already on the way out in the US, replaced by... unrealistic? ... power sources.

"What's realistic about calling for a large-scale rollout of something which has never been built, in an industry where cost-overruns are typical? Shouldn't you build at least one before betting the farm on it?"

(Sorry for the delay in responding, busy times...)

If you read the ThorCon material, you'll find that there's nothing controversial about its design. It's all based on the solid ORNL molten salt work. ThorCon is in the process of building a first reactor, which will likely be in Indonesia due to the broken nuclear approach in the US.

"Meanwhile, coal is already on the way out in the US, replaced by... unrealistic? ... power sources."

Most of the true replacement (reliable) power is natural gas, which still produces very significant CO2. Wind and solar will never really be effective replacements without reliable backup power, even with grid storage. The problem is there will eventually be an outlier event where there is too much calm air, and too much overcast, to supply enough electricity. At that point lots of people will die, if it's very hot or very cold. Reliable power is very important.

ACTION: Here’s 70+ startups that see carbon dioxide as a profit opportunity: http://airminers.org

Climate change will create the first trillionaire.

Great idea. Will apply.

Yes! The situation is dire enough that we need all hands on deck pushing forward on all solutions. The creators of AirMiners.org talk about active solutions here https://goo.gl/oUFg9c. An active project seeking STEM experts: Open NanoCarbon, an open science effort to solidify all the anthropogenic carbon. It's listed on the Air Miners and in the video, and is having a 2/15 meetup at Google SF: https://goo.gl/kbhuUk

Later on, we'll need makers, hacker and coders to help build hardware with high recycled solid carbon content, i.e: glasses, metals, plastics, electronics, etc.

You are entirely right that almost any change you make on an individual level will not stack up enough to transform the world to carbon neutral or carbon negative. Actions must be collective.

Help your neighborhood, city, state, build and implement a climate resiliency plan. Support and foster societal practices that are less carbon intensive (more bike stands and less parking spots; support public transporation;). Act within your network to promote more sustainable behavior. Does your work have a carpool system? Does your work __or the business you own__ provide incentives to their employees to ride bikes? Does your work recycle? Do you work in an energy efficient building? Is your house/apartment energy efficient? The "Green" trend should never stop. Optimization and efficiency are key.

Monetarily, divest your wealth from high carbon enterprises. Spread this suggestion and work with your employer to provide investment funds that are low carbon. Don't work in an carbon-heavy field. Work to actively solve the problem. Don't buy that Tesla. Don't own a car if it isn't a necessity. Tell other people about your wonderful car free life. Save money on insurance, gas, oil, tires, brakes....

You don't have to go to a completely plant-based diet. Host a party once a month and only serve vegetarian. That converts N hypothetical meat-containing meals into plant-based meals. Maybe someone likes your tofu dish and starts making it every other week for themselves.

A top-down carbon tax is a very logical economic mover, but it is only one tool in the tool belt. Recarbonization of the biosphere (plants, forest) is a necessity to have any chance of going carbon neutral or negative. Also climate change will not be stopping. We __are__ going to be in a different world and people will be in different places than today. The actions taken now will still mean everything to 10+ billion people.

We need a personal carbon profile. E.g. this means that when you buy meat, etc. it is added to your personal carbon balance. Of course, it will require a complete overhaul of payment systems, but eventually this can lead to more awareness and hence a reduction of emissions.

A carbon tax at source (presumably, at a wholesale level) for electricity, natural gas, diesel, petrol etc would capture most of that, with a lot less effort.

That would certainly help, but paying != solving, unfortunately, unless you charge for storing CO2, which is rather expensive.


Sorry to do this but could you stop spamming the comments with these updates and stuff?

8,000 POUNDS OF CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVED PROOF: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jyp5xctoqyr4asj/hacker%20news%20ca...


About the same as if you got 7000 people to substitute a 1 mile car drive with walking, once.

I can't believe that a car dumps a pound of CO2 every mile..

If my numbers are right, that would be a car that does 20 miles per gallon.

The EPA says [1]

> The average passenger vehicle emits about 411 grams of CO2 per mile

Now that's only tailpipe emissions, so once you include the emissions from producing the gasoline/diesel, it's more than a pound per mile.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-t...

And they mention 21.6 mpg as an assumed average, so that seems to match up.

OK I'm feeling kind of dumb - let's say a car gets 20mpg - if we are emitting 411 grams of CO2 per mile that comes out to 8,220 grams of CO2 in that 20 miles, which is 18.1 pounds of CO2. How do we get 18.1 pounds of CO2 out of a gallon of gas that weighs 6 pounds?

Not a stupid question, it's actually a common one.

The answer is that only the C in CO2 comes from gas, the O2 comes from the air.

Good perspective! I hear you on people screaming and freaking out about climate, we have too many of those already.

That’s part of the inspiration for Carbon Doomsday. The skulls escalate it more to a Monty-python type of violence and humor. Tis but a scratch!

And in case you didn’t know, No One Gives a Fuck About Climate Change: http://titojankowski.com/no-one-gives-a-fck-about-climate-ch...

Also this: http://blog.ycombinator.com/why-toys/

Climate change needs more toys

Any suggestions for actions we can guide visitors towards? We’re a bunch of hackers and coders, and that’s who this site is for.

Maybe there’s other open source projects that need development help?

Ok,today, Deep learning experts needed to help ONC meta1 project https://goo.gl/yutZP8 That's extending the sanity server and extracting relevant CO2 dissociation data. I intend to have it completed by next week's ONC meetup https://goo.gl/nz2wHr, and welcome additional help.

Sorry for the dumb question but I don't understand when the Doomsday is....

Looks like we have gone from 300 to 400 in 50 years. What number is Doomsday and when are we projected to hit it?

That's what I was expecting to see here, and if that isn't information we have or you want to project, maybe the title shouldn't be so provoking.

Good perspective! Doomsday levels in the works. Relevant article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2...

I'm guessing that there's a continuum of doomsday levels. Rate and extent of temperature increase. Tipping points for melting of major chunks of grounded ice, and sea-level consequences. Regional changes in arability, and impacts on food production. Tipping points for melting of permafrost, and positive feedback on climate forcing. Reduction in climate forcing by SOx emissions, and spike in warming after SOx emission reductions.

Don't worry. The globe has been in a cooling period for the last 18 years despite a 6x increase in emissions. The only people saying we have a climate crisis on our hands are the political organizations that wish to implement taxes and de-industrialize the west. Plenty of reputable scientists have shown that the CO2 crisis is highly exaggerated if not completely unfounded.


> The globe has been in a cooling period for the last 18 years

No, it hasn't.


My friend, NOAA and IPCC have been proven to purposefully manipulate the data to achieve their political agenda. These orgs build all their charts with Models on theorized data even for dates that have already passed. Their models do not factor in heat from the sun, geo thermal cycles, nor orbiting cycles around the sun (which changes from circle to ellipses). Please look into how these orgs are ran & the whistle blowers that have come out. Also see the emails that wiki-leaks has released. Climate change is a trillion dollar industry built entirely on deception and FUD.

Edit: 18 year cooling proven with satellite data https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2014/02/24/the-per...

The RSS dataset that article is based on (other than the storied scientific principle of cherry-picking your end-points to obtain the most favourable trend for your conclusion) turned out to be incorrect, according to RSS, mostly because of failing to fully account for orbital drift:


You essentially just linked me a document that admits they have to fudge the data to get the result they are looking for because the actual readings don't support their conclusion. It also makes no mention of the fact that Every 25 to 30 years the oceans undergo a natural cycle where the colder water below churns to replace the warmer water.

On the topic of CO2 and doing something about it, I am interested in a good counter point to iron fertilizations and algae blooms. It seems like a relatively low cost solution to implement and would be easier than getting uncooperative state actors on board with carbon policies against their interest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_fertilization#Debate https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fertilizing-ocean...

Iron fertilization a great example to spark thinking about low cost / high benefit solutions. That's why we created AirMiners (http://airminers.org) to track all the people mining carbon from the air. There's a lot going on!

As with all geoengineering, it is hard to test. There no beta Earth. So, while the risks are not absolutely intractable, and acceptance of some form of geoengineering seems inevitable, it would be a mistake to embrace it without first reducing harm to a minimum.

Geo-engineering is serious stuff and has been banned by the UN if I'm not mistaken.

Project inspired by a post on HN in June. Within a week 4 people responded to the post and started development! This: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14492180

Congrats to Luke, Steph, Marty, Purin, Dan, and Phillip on this latest redesign!

Yep! Django back-end dev here who built the API here. It's been a really cool experience with people coming from all over the place to join in and hack on the project. We're mostly hanging out at https://gitter.im/giving-a-fuck-about-climate-change/Lobby with a stable team of ~4. We're recently thinking a lot about datahub.io and how we can take it further. Big shout-out to our front-end devs who made the new re-design! Any questions, just shoot. Want to contribute, please do! Shape the project any way you want, it's free software!

Maybe you could include a full graph for the last 500 million years. It would show a steady decline of CO2 levels in the last 50-60my, whereas levels were previously ranging 2-5 times higher than in the recent holocene. [1]

The real doomsday would have been a further decline of CO2 levels to the point of global plant starvation. Many plants already died off due to the previously shrinking supply of CO2. [2]

[1] Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 500 million years (2002). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.022055499

[2] Carbon dioxide starvation, the development of C4 ecosystems, and mammalian evolution (1998). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1692178/

This is a very good point and I agree. We are actually in a 300M year low as far as CO2 goes. The rise in CO2 is arguably not even a negative thing.

Id also like to add that the majority of your first time visitors are gonna have no reference point for what a good or bad PPM is. It would be helpful to have projection scenarios for the future and introduce labels for specific points in the time line with significant theoretical effects at that carbon level.

Woa, that would be cool! Any suggestions for theoretical points you’d like to see?

GitHub repo: https://github.com/giving-a-fuck-about-climate-change

Theoretical rises in sea level, irreversible runaway effects, some actual 'doomsday' scenarios (e.g. the clathrate gun, algae blooms, jellyfish blooms, etc.)

Really this would require some research. There are a lot of models, and I frankly am not sure which are more accurate.

Check out ONC's technical wiki: https://opennanocarbon.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/REF/pages/2... Linked and referenced.

The biggest and most immediate problem is we've put too much carbon in the air to expect the natural carbon sinks of trees, land, oceans, the biosphere, to absorb it before runaway effects start unlocking vast prehistoric amounts of carbon accelerating climate change https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/01/24/5752202.... The sooner we lock up carbon, the sooner we get out of the danger of having much high sea levels, and runaway global climate warming.

Yeah that sounds like a cool tool. More like Clathrate Fun! Maybe turn it into a game haha.

Anything else you’re curious about regarding climate change?

I also would like to see some in-your-face actionable advice for the average user. I give a fuck now about climate change, what can I do, really, to influence a change in this and prevent doomsday? You could do something similar to what FFTF did for net neutrality.

That action list sounds great, want to continue building that out on the site. Checking out FFTF now: https://www.fightforthefuture.org

I disagree. I think the idea of 400ppm being a tipping point is well established, considering that years of effort were invested to raise awareness of 350ppm as a sustainable goal.

I think you're greatly overestimating the average person's knowledge of climate change and CO2 levels. I also don't believe that, even if awareness was completely spread, we should give up on keeping that information in the public mind and minuscule attention span.

Sure, but we don't have to put everything into everything. If you overload people with information you foreclose curiosity and obscure core data and clear design with dull detail. This is a headline/embeddable tool, rather than introduction to the subject.

If possible, you may want to add in alternative views with the carbon budget. There's a lot of chicanery with the IPCC scenarios and negative emissions technologies that don't exist yet. It gives context to what the ppm means in terms of the point-of-no-return that we're facing alarmingly soon. The site looks really promising, though!

Some good info in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2b68JFsnkA&t=10m58s

or maybe a tool to model the data? We want to make it more interactive.

Pac Man for carbon would be a cool game using the data :D

this guy gets it! What about putting a line up at 500 or 600 ppm for a “critical level”?

In case you are clueless and curious about the May peak like me: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2013/06/04/wh...

Yes!! What do you think of that answer? Does it spark any new questions?

Your font is hard to read because of the similarity between uppercase I and lowercase i & l. "Il" is identical and "il" only has one pixel difference.

You haven't used any j characters but they'd be similar to J.

Some comments:

1) The tagline at the top "since 1958" makes it seem like the website is since 1958, instead of the data. Obviously false, but may reduce trust.

2) The graph is good, I like it!

3) In the Data Sources section, it would be very helpful to have a link to the original data. Don't make me hunt for it. I was wondering if this was an average of multiple locations or from a single location.

4) It may be helpful to have a link or explanation about the yearly period of the CO2 level. Something like https://www.co2.earth/seasonal-co2-cycle.

1) good point! Suggestions for a better tagline?

3) We’ll get that added!

4) The yearly up-down is the most common question I get! Cool guesses on why even though they’re wrong — like maybe air conditioning usage? I’m split - is there a way nurture this curiosity/question rather than just giving the answer straightaway?

You might want to start the axis at 0 ppm. This makes the rise look even larger.

Not necessarily and probably not given the amount of historical data we have. This is why you should start from 0: https://flowingdata.com/2017/02/09/how-to-spot-visualization...

The graph can start from 0 if 0 is meaningful. But it isn't - we don't want a 0ppm atmosphere, we want one similar to that of 150-200 years ago.

Maybe take a more scientific approach at showing carbon counts? For example, what were the carbon counts 1000s/1000000s of years ago as compared to now? Was carbon ever higher in the distant past than now, for example before humans? The "Carbon Doomsday" idea seems more a political idea than a scientific one, but maybe that is the point too. The correlation between carbon and temperature is just not scientifically working out, hence all the bad climate predictions based on carbon counts.

The arctic has fossils of crocodiles and palm trees, and that's not because of continental drift, so the earth has been much warmer in the past, and life adapted. It's a problem for civilization because we would have to adapt quickly, causing a lot of disruption. But we're not headed for Venus-like conditions.

I don't get anything out of this, frankly. There's no scientific context, exposition of the data/data collection methods or even what ppm means.

For the interested, the ESRL Global Monitoring Division (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/index.html) is a more complete treatment of work being done in global greenhouse gas monitoring -- charts, maps and data included.

Thanks for weighing in! It's true it may be a bit science-lite on actually communicating details but we're definitely working on that. We have found a lot of inspiration from esrl.noaa.gov but we want it to look nicer (beyond this shallow need, we believe there are other benefits). I'm created https://github.com/giving-a-fuck-about-climate-change/carbon... to track :)

Why does ppm seem to peak in April/May each year?

Trees and plants die off in the fall/winter, and grow back in the spring/summer.

Longer answer here from Scripps/UCSD: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2013/06/04/wh...

Thanks, fascinating read!

#1 question! First, why do you think it peaks?

Seems like population has grown significantly more than carbon since 1960? https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/update...

Thanks for all the feedback everybody! Luke plugged in all your thoughts into issues on GitHub so we can keep track: https://github.com/giving-a-fuck-about-climate-change/carbon...

Did this year’s peak decrease vs last year? That looks like an extremely rare event if so.

I had the same thought this morning — but I think it’s just a little flat period in the data, and will continue to climb through the spring. No power in the ‘verse can stop it!

"Since last five years" should be more like "In the past five years"

ooo good point! Will fix. Thanks!

wk/month/year scaling of stock markets doesn't seem to fit here. Even monthly it just looks like a jaggy mess with no coherent trends. It doesn't start taking shape until the year mark.

The jaggy chart sparks my curiousity. Why is it a jaggy mess on the month scale?

The world already has enough super-processed, tell-me-what-to-think climate data.

Because there's noise inherent to any physical measurement. On the monthly chart, the range on the y-axis is 0.7 ppm. There's absolutely no sensor in the world capable of giving a reliable and valid measurement of CO2 in the atmosphere with sub-ppm accuracy. Just consider e.g. changing wind speed and directions which influence both the degree of atmospheric mixing and what the mix is of CO2 sources/sinks in the upstream direction.

Really, the smallest range on the y-axis should be 10 ppm, no matter how small the time interval. No need to spark general curiosity about noise.

Indeed. For a Bay Area comparison showing local fluctuation to gauge CO2 saturation, see the Exploratorium's Beacon Data: https://www.exploratorium.edu/environmental-field-station/cu... https://www.exploratorium.edu/environmental-field-station/se.... It varies quite heavily, some of the latest measurements are in the over 500PPM.

Well said!

Thanks. Also, try adding a overlay line that shows the larger trend like the Keeling curve, to keep some of the variance.

Because it's scaled to maximize showing the jagginess of it. It's only 1 PPM of fluctuation at the small scale - this is basically noise.

Was the UI borrowed from the Coinbase Dashboard?

“No One Gives a Fuck About Climate Change” was inspired by the awesome Coinbase charts: http://titojankowski.com/no-one-gives-a-fck-about-climate-ch...

Coinbase is great!!

y-axis please and some bullet points on what the data says re: long term/ mid term

noted, thanks!

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact