Calling all citizen scientists


Sandra Leander

More than 40 percent of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from power plants that burn fossil fuels. Arizona State University researchers are calling on citizen scientists to help provide information about where the world's power plants are located and how much COthey are emitting.

A recent article in Scientific American highlights ASU's Ventus Project – an effort by scientists to gather information on power plants to help conduct basic research on climate change.

Kevin Gurney, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and lead scientist for the project, estimates there are as many as 30,000 power plants around the world burning fossil fuels. While a list of those facilities (created by the Center for Global Development) does exist, scientifically accurate information the researchers need to map each power plant’s location and carbon dioxide emissions does not.

“A big portion of the climate change problem is due to the production of electricity everywhere in the world,” said Gurney, also a senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability. “While you might imagine that we would know where all the power plants are and how much they’re emitting, it turns out we don’t. With the growth in countries such as China, India and Brazil, this lack of information poses challenges for both basic science and climate change solutions.”

This story has also been featured in the following publications:

Nature: Scientists ask public to hunt for power plants
Los Angeles Times: Citizen scientists: Help crowd-source climate change research
Yahoo! News Canada: The Ventus Project needs climate change crusaders!
Voice of America:  Citizen Scientists Map Global Emissions