How much CO2 is created by a banana? A wedding? A flight to New York?

We teamed up with GE to turn ‘tons of carbon’ into an interactive visual landscape.

Enter a CO2 value. Hit the ‘random’ button for serendipity. Or just click through objects like stepping stones.

(There are nearly 200 objects so it may take a second to load)

Designed by David McCandless | Code by Daniel Goldsworthy.

cool things I like about this app

Like billions of dollars, “tons of CO2” is another widely-used metric that is deeply abstracted from our lives. What is a ton of CO2? It’s impossible to imagine. But perhaps it can be better understood relatively and visually?

The data here mixes direct CO2 emissions with CO2-equivalent emissions. CO2e is a calculation that includes the supply chain and production process of a given object. So for a banana, the emissions involved in growing, packaging and getting the fruit to your supermarket.

All the numbers are sourced from reputable news outlets, government studies and from the awesome book How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berner’s-Lee (US | UK)

The app features deep-linking. Each object in the app has its own web-address. So you can link directly to it.

And, like Snake Oil, this is a ‘living app’ which spawns itself from a Google Docs datasheet. That means the moment we edit, add or subtract info, it’s instantly rippled into the app.
See the data here:

So if you find any CO2 amounts in news reports or studies, post a comment below with a link to the source and we’ll try to add it. Or if you want to know the carbon emissions of XXXX, we’ll try to find it out for you.

GE have some other vizzes on their Visualization blog, including some recent work from maestro Ben Fry.