How to Avoid Extinction

John Musser
Nov. 16 2007, 02:05AM EST

How much impact does your daily activity have on the environment? You might be able to answer this question using new carbon footprint calculation mashups built with our recent API listing: AMEE, the Avoid Mass Extinctions Engine. AMEE launched their platform in June of this year and their mission is to "Enable any climate campaign to use a common standard for Carbon Footprint Profiling and Measurement". The underlying data comes from a variety of sources including the UK government. The software portion is available as open source and the developer, dgen.net, offer professional services to groups looking to build on the platform.

What are CO2 calculations? Wikipedia defines carbon footprint as "measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. It is meant to be useful for individuals and organizations to conceptualize their personal (or organizational) impact in contributing to global warming."

To get a sense of how this API can be used there's the UK Carbon Footprint Project (see our full mashup profile here). This is a platform for a carbon calculator gadget, built as a partnership among Google, the Energy Saving Trust, and RSA. It uses the AMEE engine and draws on the UK CO2 calculator for its data, calculations, and approved methodologies.

The AMEE API has a fairly rich data model. Below is an outline of some of the basic building blocks:

CO2 emissions are calculated as part of a Profile. Profiles belong to an individual, group, organisation or other entity. Profiles track the CO2 emissions of various Profile Items. Each Profile Item can represent a car, a flight, a fridge or anything else that contributes to CO2 emissions.

By aggregating all the Profile Item CO2 emission values within Profile Categories and Profiles we can determine an overall CO2 emission figure for the entity being measured (such as an individual like you).

As environmental issues like climate change become increasingly important we're likely to see more "green APIs" on the programmable web. (For more on this topic see James Governor's greenforge).

John Musser

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