Be A Carbon Hero

NASA is quite proud of its spinoffs technology developed for the space agency’s needs in space that in turn contribute to commercial innovations that improve life here on Earth. And rightly so. Just as a quick example, improvements in spacesuits have led to better protection for firefighters, scuba divers and people working in cold weather. But the list of NASA spinoffs is quite extensive.

Just like NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) has a Technology Transfer office to help inventors and businesses use space technology for non-space applications. The latest invention touted as an ESA spinoff is a small hand-held device called a Carbon Hero that might help make people more aware of the carbon footprint they are leaving behind due to vehicle emissions.

Used in conjunction with a cell phone, the Carbon Hero receives data from navigation satellites to determine the mode of transportation being used. The device’s algorithm is able to use the speed and position of the user to determine how they are traveling, and how much CO2 they are generating. The user doesn’t have to enter any information, the data is computed automatically.

The user would get feedback on the environmental impact of different types of transportation – whether by train, plane, bike or by foot. The Carbon Hero lets the user compare one kind of travel with another and calculate the environmental benefits daily, weekly and monthly.

“If you go on a diet you want to see if all that effort has made a difference so you weigh yourself. The beauty of our system is that it’s easy; you have a “weighing scale” on you all the time giving you your carbon footprint. When you make the effort to walk instead of taking the car you can immediately see the result, so it feels more worthwhile doing it and you are more likely to stick with it,” says Andreas Zachariah, a graduate student from the Royal College of Art in London and inventor of Carbon Hero.

The device has been tested using the GPS system, but will be fully operational after Galileo, the European global navigation system is fully up and running.

Learn more about ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office.

Learn more about NASA Spinoffs.

Original News Source: ESA Press Release

32 Replies to “Be A Carbon Hero”

  1. I’d like to know how it determines your mode of transport purely from your speed. Car stuck in a traffic jam moving at walking pace? Zero emissions for you!

  2. What’s going on with Universetoday??? I come here several times daily and it’s about to end forever. Drop the global warming nonsense. Carbon footprint? This is part of the whole carbon credits shell game being spun by our politicians. Enough with the eco-trumpeting, guys! Let’s get back to the fun articles on the universe again. If I want global warming articles, I can get them daily from any one of the eco-kook websites out there.

  3. I TOTALLY agree! I get that “info” from the newspapers and TV. I DON’T need it being trumpeted here. i come to read articles on the happenings “off world”. I can quite easily google for that “prattle”. Don’t get me wrong, it IS a serious issue but not one that should be here.

  4. I disagree. The operators of and contributers to this site have a perfect right to write about whatever apocalyptic nonsense they choose.

  5. Three comments, two bashing global warming, two bashing UT.

    First, notice that this device is a spinoff from ESA technology, so it is actually space-related.

    Second, as the last poster mentioned, this is UT’s site. They are not being paid to do this (well, some donations, but I suspect that is for upkeep and bandwidth, not author salaries). Let them post what they want.

    Finally, “global warming nonsense” and “apocalyptic nonsense”? The IPCC and a few thousand scientists (way overpowering the so-called “dissenting” scientific opinion) all agree that it is neither nonsense nor minor.

    You are free not to believe in global warming, if you choose to ignore the solid evidence showing it, but do not mock a science site for putting up a science tech article based on space technology, please.

  6. It’s pertinent, we’ve been tearing up this planet too long. Time to enhance our stewardship, what’s wrong w a lil planet husbandry?
    Technology transfer has been pushed hard by universities recently. Only fitting that NASA join the parade, because they have such neat innovative stuff.

  7. I agree, with Scott G.

    What good does it do us if we’ve discovered the secrets of dark matter, intelligent life in the universe, etc… when we are destroying, our own planet?

    Also, less pollution means clearer skies ;-).

  8. Daniel Medicis, Bjarne, Mark –

    Is that an axe I can hear, grinding away? Clearly seeing as you hold such a strong view on this subject and feel the need to spitefully inform the rest of us of it, I can only assume that you have some ulterior political or philosophical objection to the idea that we may be harming the planet.

    If you don’t like the content, write your own science blog with your obviously informed opinions. I’m sure it will be really popular. You could call it something like “Results in Science that I find Particlularly Palatable”. Nice ring to it, yeah?

    Whether you agree with an article or not, UT owes you nothing. It presumably caters to a large and diverse audience, many of whom will find the articles interesting. How about reading them all, and penning some thoughtful and reasoned comments, rather than vomiting your idealogical position all over everyone at every chance.

  9. Universe Today: another formerly decent media source that has been infected by junk science. Makes me sick just to be here. What’s up, UT, did you pick up an enviralist hack on staff that was kicked out of his university job for being non-productive?

    I came here to read about the wonders of the universe and, instead, I have to look at this garbage. Have a heart, UT, real science isn’t for everybody.

  10. Astrofiend,

    I see I hit a nerve there! It’s amazing what happens when you doubt the global warming zealots. I’m told that I’m ‘vomiting’, et al.

    Let’s review, shall we? Just a couple of the more important points of this so-called ‘global warming’:

    1) No sunken coastal cities yet, though every summer I hear the warnings that we’re all going to be under water.

    2) Still no concrete evidence that global warming is caused by man, or even if global warming is a short term trend.

    3) Weather-predicting is still as reliable as it always was – usually wrong within 24-48 hours, nevermind for the next 100 years.

    4) Many of the ‘leading scientists’ in the field doubt the accuracy of global warming theories.

    5) The loudest voices demanding we do something to prevent global warming (read Environmentalist Wackos, political leaders, and Hollywood celebrities) do the most to cause that which they say all the rest of us should cease immediately. They fly in private jets, heat multiple 10,000 square foot homes, drive enormous pleasure yachts, enjoy a day at the auto-races, drive and own limousines and SUV’s, play golf on forest-stripped land, consume titanic amounts of goods, etc., while demanding we all limit what little we have already. Their lavish lifestyles are too intricate to describe here.

    6) Follow the money – who’s really making money off this and how? Carbon credits? C’mon! What a Ponzi-scheme!

    7) You really want to help? No one should own a TV, boat, more than one car per household; we should have fuel and heating rationed, no driving for pleasure of any kind as it wastes fuel unneccessarily, no large homes allowed or an additional family has to live there, and certainly NO WASTEFUL ROCKET LAUNCHES! No need for that, now, is there? Why, how can we look at Europa when the Earth is almost dead? Also, tear down the observatories, they cost a fortune to maintain and leave a huge carbon footprint while doing nothing to help the earth.

    UT is an awesome site; it’s why I come here as much as I do. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to be told directly or indirectly to change my lifestyle and foot hefty financial increases in my style of living because some bunch of politicos and junk UN committees decide that I, not they, need to stop the end of the world. An end which many of them can not prove is truly coming. Remember, 30 years ago we were all going to freeze to death in the Great Ice Age from Global Cooling.

  11. A tremendously great comment by Daniel Medicis.

    If you GW advocates are really serious about reducing your carbon footprint, start planting trees and do it every year. I’ve got 1.7 million in and am still going strong. THAT is the kind of positive action that will lessen a so-called “carbon footprint”.

  12. Let’s put aside the question of global warming for a moment and admit that the tracking idea is novel and interesting and relies on satellites (Space? Yes?)

    I am interested if they’ve figured out how to distinguish between walking and being stuck in traffic. Perhaps there is AI software that analyses the entire trip. But it might be difficult to parse a public bus trip with transfers.

  13. It is sad how some people claim to be interested in science but reserve the right to only take in scientific results that agree with their prejudices. Do you understand the scientific method? At all? How do you think climate scientists around the world have arrived at a consensus?

    And dropping a ten paragraph rant here how the editors of this site don’t conform to your conspiracy theories really shows how classy and rational you are* …


  14. I think the Carbon Hero is a good idea. If AGW is true, it will be a great piece of kit. If AGW turns out not to be true, it might be worth even more as a collector’s item (a memento of the Great Carbon Panic, perhaps.)

  15. @Keith Nealy
    Traffic Jam: How about determining the maximum speed of the trip, if it was ever above a speed a human can’t walk (like 10+ mph for a couple of minutes), but never reached 0 for more than a few seconds, it can be assumed that transportation began by car and that this hasn’t changed ever since. I guess it’s all about behavioral patterns. Like a traffic jam movement is also too unusual for a human way of walking.

    However if you erase the previous information from the device, reset it or whatever, it could probably not tell the difference unless you do some typical drive maneuvers.

  16. well Fraser ..looks like ya got them stirred up with that one…at least you know they’re out their watching

  17. This is the coldest winter for the Northern Hemisphere since 1966. China is undergoing its coldest winter in 100 years, and the Arctic icecap is 20 centimeters thicker than it was a year ago.

    I agree with everyone that we should not pollute our dear old Planet Earth, that’s a no-brainer. But global warming? I don’t believe a word of it. I too, remember the “global cooling” scaremongering of the 1970’s.

    If you still insist on getting the Carbon Hero, get the really sexy, razor-thin one. They are SOOOO HOT!

  18. First, should this article say “Paid Advertisement” somewhere??

    Second, Will the computer also tell people to reduce their carbon footprint in the slow, right lanes of the highway and leave the fast, left lanes to those of us who know it’s all bunko?

    Third, will the computer be WiFi so it can wire money directly from Al Gores account to purchase all of my carbon credits, the credits of all of the Universe Today readers and the credits of the thousands of others that are required to offset the carbon footprint of “The Great Prophet”?


  19. Philosophical Question: Can the author of a newsletter be a troll in his own board? He certainly has us all stirred up reading and commenting!


  20. One Question for the Global Warming Advocates:

    If increased carbon dioxide causes an increase in the Earths temperature, why does the data show that the carbon dioxide increases lag the temperature increases by as much as 800 years?

    Has causality been repealed?

  21. The people who repair air conditioners and refridgerators and freezers and heat pumpswill tell us that when you change the chlorine content of any system you change the capability of that system to transfer heat. Many refridgerants boil at anywhere from -21F to -43F and even lower! Humans do have th capability to change the chlorine content in the ocean by affecting the salinity content. The transfer of heat from the equator to the polar regions is done by the ocean currents and changing the salinity content does change the weather or are some of you telling me that freezers and heat pumps and air conditioners don’t work?

  22. First off its space derived tech, so it belong here. Second Earth montitoring sciences – that includes global warming trends wouldnt it? Would qualify as well. So this text qualify for the site in several ways.

    So at the end a personal note.
    Living in the sub actic we’ve have had the warmest winter and warmest decade since temperature measurements started – no doubt we’re heading for catastropic changes in this area. Winter is officially over already by the end of february!

    But im sure that fact wont rock the boat for those who are in a state of denial even when the facts yell them straight in the face.

  23. DM –

    Hmmm… Where in my post did I say that I strongly supported a GW position?

    I stated only that it seems like you have a strong anti-GW position, and feel the need to rant about it. And then in reply, you rant about it again!

    But let’s respond to some of your claims for fun:

    1) Coastal sea level rise isn’t even predicted to be happening yet, you douche! So the fact that it isn’t happening to a large degree at the moment proves nothing either way.

    2) I agree to a certain extent with this claim, but would say there is evidence that is strongly indicative of human-based causes of a sharp increase in av. global temps.

    3) This is the point that makes it painfully clear that you are have no idea what you’re talking about. Comparing weather prediction to climate modeling? Seriously, learn the difference between weather and climate.

    4) Of course there are some scientists who doubt the models. They may yet prove to be correct – that’s why science works so well. But the overwhelming consensus and the best data analysis and modeling currently available suggest that they are wrong.

    5) I agree.

    6) I agree. Follow the money. But who’s making the big bucks? Not the scientist that are working on these models, that’s for damn sure. Maybe special interests in Washington, who instead of committing to something meaningful, dream up new ways to make dollars out of the situation, like carbon trading etc.

    7) I never said that it’s not hypocritical to make GW claims and own and do the things you’ve listed. Nor do I advocate ceasing all progress and innovation because of GW. It’s not practical or sensible. That doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist though, or that we can try to limit further damage through innovations in various technologies.

    I mean seriously, do you understand the proposed mechanisms for GW? Have you read and analysed the scientific papers? Do you understand the various aspects and causes of climate change that they model? I strongly suspect that the sum total of the information you base your opinions on comes from the O’Rielly Factor, or some equally informative Fox network trash.

    And why wouldn’t we want to reduce our emissions? The way we live at the moment – pumping tons of chemicals into the air and environment at large – is akin to pissing in the bathtub before jumping in.

  24. Those with the most to gain from debating the reality of global warming are those arguing for the status quo. “Don’t make me change anything while I plunder more resources than the rest of the planet. It’s my right because an accident of birth put me here.

    This article was about space based technology. The authors didn’t promote any one idea other than the reality of a product – regardless of its value or usefulness.

    It’s “global warming” not, “warming at theAnts house”. as the above article states, various levels of snow at any given location are anecdotal evidence, at best.

    Threats of coming ice age scared me as a third grader in the 70’s. Do these sound familiar?

    “There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically…”

    “The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. ”

    “But they are almost unanimous in the view…”

    “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.”

    “The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”

    Any of it sound familiar? It should, I’ve heard most of it in the hype surrounding global warming. Sad fact is, these quotes all came from Newsweeks 1975 article on global cooling by Peter Gwynne. We were given ten years before food production dropped and life on earth began to starve if immediate action wasn’t taken.

    Regarding chlorine – I can change the thermodynamic properties of any system by changing any of the components. All easy on the scale of a heat pump. Try it on a planetary scale. I’m familiar with the conveyor – it’s driven by salinity differences and it keeps northern Europe from freezing. Once it wasn’t there. Did mans activity create it? In the future it may be gone. You’re saying that man will be solely responsible for it’s destruction?

    PUt a glass of water on the stove and turn the burner on the lowest setting. Add some chlorine. add some salt, take away the chlorine and salt, do whatever you want but, I’m betting the it’s the burner that affects the temperature of that was more than anything else you could do short of a violent chemical reaction. Doesn’t it just make sense that the Sun is the biggest effector of climate change on the Earth??

  26. Whoa!! All this over an article? I agree that UT caters for a wide & diverse audience, with various levels of interest & understanding.
    NASA, like a number of institutions, also have diversified their work & some of there developments end up the consumer’s world (eg. SatNav; Military GPS satellites).

    Regarding global warming, as I understand it, in that great tradition of science, scientists generally agree that SOMTHING’S going on, but the devil’s in the details (ie, what the hell’s causing it & the effect IF ANY humankind is contributing to thw situation) – cue mis-information, pseudo science & general bull-headedness

    Common sense dictates it’s not really clever to keep polluting the environment, but like with any question of this type, surely scientists working to find an answer (like life on Mars) is part of what makes things great?

  27. I have been following this site for several years, and have been dismayed by the one-sidedness of articles published here concerning “Global Warming”.

    This is supposed to a scientific site, not a religious or political one, so why are there no stories that contradict the alarmists? Despite what proponents claim, there are tons of articles and peer-reviewed papers by prominent scientists in fields directly related to the climate that disagree with part or all of the supposed (but non-existent) “concensus”. Global warming, and especially the hypothesis of human activity causing it, are in no way proven, and there is much evidence against it as well.

    It would be refreshing to at least see some balance here, so we can make up our own minds about a subject that has so many draconian political and economic ramifications.

  28. Actually, the content of chlorine on a global scale can be changed and probably has changed by nature on its own in the past, killing off many species. During glacial periods the Great Lakes did dump excess fresh water into the oceans through the St. Lawrence Seaway by changing the direction of its current.

    If you release stronger forms of chorine into the air, which was done by ref mechanics repeatedly for years, you can burn a hole in the ozone and freon is lethal enough to effect the atmospheric cycle, which in turn contaminates the water cycle.

    Never mind all of that. Most posts here against GW are not even aware of the strongest argument against it. It goes as follows:

    The earth wobbles in its orbit. Polaris is the North Star right now but thousands of years ago it was Vega. During that time the northern hemisphere would be pointed more directly at the sun at the winter solstice and would be closer during those summer months (Dec thru March) than it presently is in our summer months ( June July and August.). There is extreme evidence from the subsoils that the Ohio River Valley was a rainforest and that its summers were much hotter than the present rainforests on earth since most of the planet’s land mass is in the northern hemisphere. Average temperatures likely were in the upper 90s back then.

    As it wobbled to the other extreme the planet wound up with ice ages. Further, studies of the sun’s activities suggest that the number of solar flares and sun spots were large in the cases of the effects of el ninos and ninas where the number of X-rays penetrating the ocean were much larger than normal.

    Further, the sun has an 11 year solar cycle, matching the length of a Jovian year. Every 11 years Jupiter is in opposition during January, teaming up with the sun to tug us a little closer during January, coinciding with the warmer Januaries we have had recently, only to find February and March acting more winter-like (which we are all experiencing right now). Just look in the morning sky and you will see that Jupe finished being in opposition a while ago.

    So there seem to be a number of astronomical influences over our climates. I still didn”t mention that recently it was found that when we pass through density waves in our galactic path, we wind up with ice ages and they match data with our journeys through those extra star dust times.

    However, science is a process in which we first experiment with a prototype in a controlled risk environment, an environment where we can afford the failure of our hypothesis being tested. If we cannot afford failure, then we must take a step back wait until our technological advancement allows us to.

    Every scientist must distinguish his or herself from pseudoscience. Science is not seeking out truths that cannot be disproven. Pseudoscience does that. Science seeks falsification and realizes beliefs that are less false. Seeking out truth is to seek out dead ends that cannot be questioned. Therefore, what happens if those against GW are wrong and GW is ignored? Can we afford those consequences? What happens if GW advocates are wrong and the amount of CO2 is reduced? What is that fallout? The latter looks more affordable if they are wrong. The former will only listen when a runaway effect is realized…which is too late.

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