We at TreeHugger are constantly asking questions about carbon footprints, energy consumption or embodied energy -- so often that having an easy search box to just type a term into and have data spit out at us would be a dream come true. And that dream is coming true with the creating of a new tool called Ask AMEE.
Making Carbon Data Easily Accessible to Anyone
TechCrunch notes that since launching in 2008, AMEE, a carbon mapping, measuring and tracking company, has "won contracts with the likes of the UK Government, CNN, Google, the list goes on. But what it hasn’t cracked is a consumer-facing app which gets the issue of ‘carbon footprints’ into the mind of the ordinary member of the public."
James Smith, Platform Evangelist for AMEE, says, "The idea is to take the (fairly specialist) information in AMEE and open it up to be more accessible and useful. AMEEdiscover lets people find standards and data, but what they normally want is a simple carbon emission answer. Hence Ask AMEE."
How amazing would it be for said "ordinary member of the public" to have at their fingertips a search tool for finding out just how much embodied energy is in the new cell phone they bought, or what kind of carbon footprint their upcoming road trip will create? Let's just say it'd be really, really amazing.
Ask AMEE is becoming that very tool, though it is still in the early stages. All one needs to do is enter a search term with a numerical value, and the search engine can start returning information.
Polishing Up Ask AMEE
Smith notes, "For the moment it needs some numerical information to work with, so searches like '10kg of beef' or '500 kWh of electricity' are the exact sort of thing it likes. We are intending to make it more intelligent though... The data is there in AMEE, it's just a matter of making Ask AMEE understand what you're talking about - humans describe things in so many ways. Some of the big things to add are: Making it understand things like 'fly from New York to Los Angeles'; work with things without units, like '400 cows'."
The search is still being refined and so may seem a bit buggy at first. For instance, I entered "1 pound of ground turkey" just to see what happens. It came back with results for 1 pound of ground limestone. Hummm. Turns out that was a bug that Smith was able to fix pretty quickly. So that means: Use Ask AMEE. The more you use it, the more you can help find issues that need polishing. And the more polishing this tool gets, the more valuable it will be to everyone from students to scientists, from journalists to the curious Joe.
Smith states, "There is a lot of scientific data out there, but it's hard to find and understand. AMEE's mission is to make all that available so that anyone can use it."
Now that is a beautiful goal.