A cybernetic approach to reducing atmospheric CO2

Set up a CO2 meter and try experiments and trials to make the CO2 reading go down. A pragmatic way to forge new social systems and solutions needed for the Low CO2 emission society of the near future.

This is a Raspberry Pi educational computer (green device), a 3.3 volt regulator (blue board) and a COzIR infrared Carbon Dioxide sensor (round black device). A program in the Python programming language reports CO2, temperature and humidity values.

The pragmatic essential item is realistic CO2 readings that reflect activity within an entity. The trials and experiments undertaken are social experiments aimed at reducing CO2 readings.

Carbon Dioxide meter, mapper and logger. Uses Arduino Due microcontroller..

This is a device for measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide. It writes four lines of data per minute to an SD card. Each line of data has time, location, air pressure and humidity  in addition to the CO2 reading.

Starting in September 2014 I began doing problems in a college organic chemistry textbook that had an extended treatment of spectrometry. Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, 7th edition, Skoog, West, Holler,  1997.

 I did experiments with reflective and transmissive diffraction gratings. I researched the Internet for examples of spectrometer projects.

A particular  question that I have not seen writing about is why can't I point a spectrometer at the sun and directly graph the CO2 absorption taking place on the air column from my location to the top of the atmosphere? If a jet plane flies near the air column, can I see increased absorption taking place due to the water vapor and CO2 being released by the plane?

I am not done building instruments, but due to my need for a quantitative CO2 measuring  instrument I purchased a commercial CO2 meter.

I purchased an atmospheric CO2 meter over the Internet from an organization aptly doing business as CO2meters.com.

The AZ-0001 CO2 meter has a rated accuracy of 50 parts per million. It is sold as an instrument for measuring indoor air quality. Closed buildings like skyscrapers typically turn on fresh air circulation fans when the CO2 concentration is over 500 parts per million (ppm).

The CO2 meter has a digital output for CO2 data. I decided to combine the CO2 meter digital data with location information from a global positioning receiver (gps) and further add barometeric pressure and a second  temperature value from a microbarometer. For recording the data, I used a device called a SD Card writer which also has a battery backed real time clock similar to the device used in many personal computers. Reading and writing all of this data requires a fairly fast microcontroller with quite a few input and output connections. An Arduino Due is a really good choice for this mapper device.

Major components list:

Power for mapper supplied by:
  • 9 volt wall wart (for major logger) and 6 volt wall wart (for CO2 meter)
Alternate power, suitable for about 8 hours:
  • AA Lithium battery pack with 8 cells for main logger and 4 more AA batteries to power the CO2 meter. 
Software running on the Arduino Due is essential for organizing the data being collected and writing the data out.

The software currently in use is the result of four months amateur part time development.

A recent working copy of the software is at the following link. The development platform for loading the software into the Ardino Due is downloadable from arduino.cc. Take note that the development package you download does program Arduino Due devices.

The software requires some drivers that are either present in the Arduino development environment or are available from Adafruit.com . Contact the author if you can not find them.

A Short Conversation with a Climate Change Denier

CO2 meter jumps from 400 to 700 when engine is started. An electric fan blows the exhaust 4 meters.


Ms. T says: "We will all be sitting at home, freezing in the dark if we go for this global warming climate change stuff. "

The argument being presented by Ms. T is essentially that if we must change our society to abate global warming, then the social changes required are so severe that life in America will be unpleasant.

One estimation of how energy would be generated and used in a low CO2 emissions society with a principally British or English focus has been worked out by Dr. Donald Mackay in his book: David MacKay: Sustainable Energy - without the hot air: Contents.

To return to Ms. T's argument, the freeze in the dark school of thought is built around the assumption that a low CO2 emission society is a linear scaling down of all present CO2 generating practices.

An observation, a counter argument, and a course of action:

  • The USA is extremely conservative and slow to do social change.
    • Example,  the USA only adopted universal health care in 2010. 
  • Nobody knows what the future will be. 
  • A course of action. We need to perform social experiments or social trials to develop new low CO2 emission social systems.
In the Socratic dialogue The Meno the slave boy says "I know what arete (excellence) is. By the end of the dialogue, the slave boy says "I don't know."

I would say to the readers of this blog: That is the situation we are in. We don't know what a livable, productive and happy low carbon emission society will look like.