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One Scoreboard to Track Them All

Join us in designing the ultimate scoreboard to facilitate winning the race to net zero carbon.

chat Posted Dec 27, 2014 by Rezwan | Category : Scoreboard
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Photo by Agberto Guimaraes

Data driven scoreboard

Without a compelling scoreboard, there is no way to win the race to zero carbon. A scoreboard is a platform of accountability. It connects the progress of individuals to the whole. It tracks cumulative impact. It targets information to performance. Every player needs to know the total score and how the other players are doing to know their true position and their best moves.

A compelling scoreboard makes the race winnable. Without it, you are flying blind. Without it, the herd of elephants is churning on itself.

For some reason, a lot of people don’t get the value of the scoreboard.  They don’t notice the lack.  They are content with intermittent scoreboards that help them win points in an argument. Some may even be opposed, because it’s not in their interest to clear up the information signal.

We don’t want to win points in an argument, we want to win the race to zero carbon and beyond.

We see the need for a rigorous scoreboard and we’re on a mission to fulfill it. We’ve got an excellent framework. The data is available. Our job is to pull together a team of developers and the funds to make it happen.  Get involved! Join the team. Contribute to fund the team.

In designing the scoreboard, we are looking at the best ways to express action on multiple levels, with metrics that allow people to quickly switch back and forth from a picture of the whole, to that of the individual.  The following are some things to keep in mind.

State Carbon Emissions: Total v. Per Person

For a winning scoreboard, the best way to measure State carbon emissions is per person. 

For some reason, many people only look at total State carbon emissions. But consider.  If you don’t count the people, the State of Texas has the worst emissions, followed by California. 

But Texas and California are our most populated states.  Dividing total emissions by population gives you the per person emissions.  With this measure, Texas is still bad, but not the worst.  It is #37, thus there are 13 states that are less efficient at meeting their citizen’s needs.  California is the second cleanest state instead of the second dirtiest.  Other states whose emissions were masked by a small population (Wyoming!) are shown for how inefficient they really are.

What a difference population makes. 

Another way to compare the utility of per capita emissions v. total emissions is to break down the emissions equation:

Total State Emissions =  Population   x   Emissions per Person

As you see, in order to get “total State Emissions” to equal zero, you can either zero out the population, or zero out the emissions.  Zeroing out the population is considered a fascist move. Also known as “evil”.

Focus on getting emissions per person to zero, and you can have as many people as you want. 

Speaking of which, heads up!  We’re going to have ten billion people to serve on this planet whether you want them or not.  Focus on how to meet the needs of all people, carbon free and the emission will take care of itself.

Decarbonize, not depopulate.

State Energy Supply/Consumption Field

A winning scoreboard needs a clear and systematic way to depict energy supply information and options. 

We show this as a field. (“The Energy Supply/Consumption Field”).  It is both consumption and supply, because consumption drives supply, and because there are two ways to reduce the carbon emissions here. On the demand side you can reduce consumption, and on the supply side you can decarbonize (switch to non-fossil energy).

For some reason, few people look at the whole energy supply field. They often just look at the electric power, which is about 1/3 of most State’s energy use.

It is easy to present this field in a way that everyone can appreciate.  Taking the data from eia.gov for the state of New Jersey, we produce the following field. Note, the data is not completely understood here. For example, the “Interstate Flow” block of energy needs clarification - we do not know if this is clean electric power or fossil fuel based.

When you show the field this way, insights and options emerge, and the conflicts also become clear. You can see right away how big of an impact automobiles have (“motor gasoline”) and what a big difference electrification of transport would make.  You wonder how much of the Natural Gas is used for heating buildings, and how much of an impact LEED certified buildings would make. You may be surprised at how few renewables New Jersey has, and how significant the contribution of nuclear energy is. Some will argue the merits of biomass.

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