The Mayor Warns Us Of NYC’s Carbon Emissions… With Balls!


It’s no doubt that we New Yorkers live in a fumed-out city; just take a gander over to Broadway in Midtown around 4pm on a weekday and you’ll find it difficult to look beyond the cloudy exhausts coming from the thousands of taxicabs that clog the streets. Some may say it’s an essential part of New York’s grittiness (really?) while others may argue the urban sprawl offsets the sheer amount of carbon we’re letting loose in the environment.

Or, if you’re Mayor Bloomberg, you may see it as a huge, huge problem.

This little informercial seen above came from the Hozziner’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. It’s based off a September 2011 study conducted by the Office entitled “PlaNYC, Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions: September 2011.” And has enough balls to get you worried about just exactly how much we New Yorkers are unknowingly screwing with Mother Nature.

The video takes New York City on a great day: 59 degrees and sunny, where a ton of CO2 gas fills up a ball 33 feet wide. Now, keep in mind that, according to NPR’s Robert Krulwich, each and every one of us (those living in the Five Boroughs) emit about 7.1 tons of CO2 gas. That number is a third of the average per capita for the United States as a whole and places New York as fifth on the list of Dirtiest Cities. The first? Washington D.C. with 19.4 tons per person.

And this study he’s referencing is supposed to show that cities are actually much lower than the national averages in terms of carbon emissions. …Well shit.

Anyway, let’s return to the math. The people over at the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability wanted to see just how many balls would build up next to the Empire State Building. This accumulation is a total of traffic, our own carbon footprints and, most importantly, buildings, which make up 75% of New York’s emissions. So, in one hour, we have about half of the Empire State Building covered. In one day, you can barely see the monument any more. And, in one year, you have a horrifying sight. Just see for yourself.

Now, this video can be defaced for corniness or whatever but, like any overdose of snark, where the hell does that get us? We’re serious adults here (and, to tell you the truth, this bit is much more visually alarming than simple data) so let’s act serious for a second. It’s hard to not be a little freaked out when the surrounding shot zooms past the Statue of Liberty and stretches to fit the enormous load of our yearly emissions or, as we should start calling it, our Eventual Yet Fixable Doom.

As New Yorkers, we like to comfort ourselves by telling people that we have little to no carbon footprint – we walk everywhere, take mass transit, recycle and shop at Trader Joe’s. And that’s all fine and dandy but that comfortability shouldn’t stall any further action. Watch this video and then we’ll talk.