The World’s Soaring CO~2~ Levels Visualized as Skyscrapers

This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

If you want an unusual but punchy telling of the world's explosion of climate-warping gases, see no further than this visualization of CO 2 [9459005]

" 2 A Brief History of CO 2 Emissions "Portraits the cumulative amount of this common greenhouse gas that humans have produced since the mid-1700s. It also projects to the end of the 21st century to show what may happen if the world disregards the Paris Agreement an ambitious effort to limit warming that 200 countries signed on 2015. (President Donald Trump At this point, the CO 2 -plugued atmosphere could see jumps in average temperature as high as 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, the animation's

"We wanted to show where and when CO 2 was emitted in the last 250 years-and may be emitted in the coming 80 years if no climate action is taken, "emails of Boris Mueller, a creator of the viz along with designer Julian Braun and others at Germany's University of Applied S Ciences Potsdam and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research . "By visualizing the global distribution of cumulated CO 2 we were able to create a strong image that demonstrates very clear the dominant CO [1 945 9 005] 2 -emitting regions and time spans. "

The visualization began with a small, white lump growing on London around 1760- the beginning of the Industrial Revolution . Increasingly appearing throughout Europe, increasing prominently in Paris and Brussels in the mid-1800s, then throughout Asia and the US, where in the early 1900s emissions skyrocket in the New York region, Chicago, and Southern California.

By the time the present day rolls around, the world looks home to the largest construction project in existence, with spires that 'd put the Burj Khalifa to shame in the US, China, and Europe-currently the worst emitters in terms of volume of CO 2

For this project, the team pulled the historical data from the US Department of Energy- affiliated Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center . The "CO 2 emission estimates are deduced from information on the amount and location of fossil-fuel combustion and cement production over time," says Elmar Kriegler, the viz's scientific lead. "Therefore, the visualization also tells the history of the Industrial Revolution which started in England, spread across Europe and the United States, and finally the whole world."

Astute observers will notice a couple of troubling things, such as the huge amount of emissions pouring out of urban areas like London, New York, and Tokyo. Cities and the power plants that keep them humming the world's largest source of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Also notable: the relative absence of the planet That is not necessarily a good thing "Some regions, in particular Africa, still do not show a significant cumulative CO 2 -imissions signal," says Kriegler, "highlighting that they are still in the beginning of industrialization and may increase their emissions rapidly in the future, if they follow the path of Europe, the US, Japan, and recently China and Southeast Asia. "

How likely is the worst-case scenario Portraited in our home? The viz's creators argue that some current damage is here to stay. But they have some reason for optimism, too "Reducing CO 2 emissions to zero in the second half of the century can be achieved with decisive, global-scale emissions-reductions policies and efforts," Kriegler says. "The Paris Agreement can be an important [catalyst] for this development if embraced fully by the world's leading emitters and powers. But as we say in the movie, the time to act is now. "

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