Climate Pathways app enables everyone to investigate climate change

My first app for iPhone and iPad has been published in the App Store by my development partner Climate Interactive. I started with the idea of publishing an ebook with embedded simulations to explain the science behind global warming and climate change. The climate system is complex with many surprises in its behavior. I thought it would be interesting for people to find out for themselves how delays in the system mean we have to reduce greenhouse gases now, before the really bad impacts have become apparent.

I needed a climate model that would run fast enough on an iPhone. This led me to Climate Interactive and their C-ROADS model. They work with policymakers, helping them understand how various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios will play out. Their first outreach to the public, the Climate Scoreboard, was a big success, and they wanted to do more. They had just developed a simplified climate model in JavaScript that I could embed in an iOS app.

When Drew Jones at CI proposed an app that would deliver the key insights in a focused way, I ditched the ebook idea and worked with the CI team on realizing Drew’s proposal instead. The result is Climate Pathways.

There’s a thermometer on the left that shows the temperature rise at 2100. To use the app, you trace a greenhouse gas emissions curve from 2010 to 2050. The gray curve shows our current, disastrous path for reference. The app instantly calculates the temperature rise in 2100. Your task is to find a scenario that results in a temperature rise of 2ºC (3.6ºF) or less.

If you get stuck, you can try “auto mode” and sweep your finger around to find 2ºC pathways calculated by Lori Siegel at CI using the full C-ROADS model. The little info button gives you some background information on the climate system and our current situation.

The app page at CI features a demo video showing the app in action, narrated by Drew Jones of CI. This video shows how effective an interactive simulation can be for illustrating the behavior of a complex dynamical system.

Climate Pathways Demo

The Climate Interactive team took iPads to the UN climate conferences in Cancun and Durban. People there really liked how it gets the point across. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do a lot more with it soon.

Testing C-ROADS for iPhone at COP16

So if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, head on over the App Store to download your free copy of Climate Pathways today!


ZippGo moving boxes: roomy, sturdy, easy, ecological

I move a lot—every year or two. I hate buying lots of expensive moving boxes only to throw them away after a couple of weeks. It wastes trees and energy. But now there’s a better way if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For my last few moves, I used a stack of file boxes from the office supply store. File boxes are relatively inexpensive, assemble quickly without tape, and are sturdy enough to hold heavy loads like books.

This time I stumbled on a San Francisco startup company with a great new idea. ZippGo delivers big, plastic boxes to your old home, and then picks them up two weeks later after you move. The boxes can be reused hundreds of times. The cost is about the same as buying cardboard boxes. My ZippGo boxes were roomy, sturdy, easy, ecological—what’s not to like?

I started by ordering the 24 box package online. I wasn’t sure from the website how big the boxes are, or if there was an assortment of sizes. 24 boxes turned out to be enough for my one bedroom apartment, with 10 of the boxes devoted solely to books. I had to use a few old file boxes too.

The ZippGo order form allowed me to request two, 2 hour windows on my delivery and pickup dates. They called me the night before to confirm my delivery. One thing I didn’t like is that they charged extra for delivery because I had an elevator in my old apartment. That didn’t slow things down at all. The new place had stairs and a gate to deal with, which did require a lot more work. I can see charging extra for stairs, but not for an elevator.

I was surprised how compact the boxes were. They stack up like food containers. I had visions of piles of boxes turning my apartment into an obstacle course, but it wasn’t like that at all.

I was also surprised at how big the boxes are inside. This is really helpful for bulky items like kitchen equipment and clothes. Here’s a picture of a file box inside a ZippGo box to show the size.

The boxes come with adhesive labels and several colors of cable ties. You don’t need tape with ZippGo boxes. You just shut the cover and hold it closed with a cable tie. The different colors enable you to indicate to the movers which room the box should go to. ZippGo removes the labels after your move, so you don’t have to deal with that. I guess it’s part of cleaning the boxes (and they were all very clean).

Notice the boxes don’t have an URL on them, only a phone number and a Twitter @ name. Thinking ahead there!

The boxes are made of heavy plastic. You can easily stack them four or even five high. This was really great after the move. They didn’t take up so much room that I felt like I had to dig myself out right away.

ZippGo provides a special dolly that fits under a stack of boxes. The movers really liked this.

I had two weeks after the boxes were delivered to move and unpack. The pickup time was scheduled when I ordered, but I was ready to turn them in a couple days early. I emailed ZippGo and they immediately scheduled an earlier pickup.

The ZippGo truck shows their whole value proposition. It looks like a web page on wheels to me.

And here go the boxes.

I would recommend ZippGo boxes for anybody who would throw away their moving boxes after they move. The cost is the same, unless you are reusing random boxes from the grocery store dumpster, but I stopped doing that a long time ago. The service is only available in the Bay Area for now, but hopefully they will expand their range in the future.

Philips LED lamp is the real deal

I’ve been using compact fluorescent bulbs for 20 years, back when they were a fringe item at Real Goods. I’ve been trying the new LED lamps for several years with uniformly disappointing results. Until now.

LED lamps use white LEDs, which emit “cool white” light with a bluish tint that many people find unpleasant. This is the same problem that compact fluorescent lights had until recently.

The big problem with LED lights is that they just aren’t very bright. Buyer beware: a “40W equivalent” or “60W equivalent” lamp probably isn’t.

That’s why the new Philips LED lamp from the EnduraLED line is such an exciting development. It really is 60W equivalent–a full 800 lumens. And the light is soft white. I’d say the light is not quite as warm as an incandescent bulb, but it’s pretty close.

When I first saw the package, I thought it must be a spotlight because of the opaque yellow sides. But when you turn on the light, the whole bulb illuminates in soft white light.

Philips 12 watt LED bulb

This lamp only seems to be available at Home Depot in the US so far. It’s pricey at $40, but then it should last 30,000 hours or over ten years. The Philips part number is 409904. If anybody can find an alternate source, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Philips 12 watt (60W equivalent) A19 Ambient LED Soft White Light Bulb at Home Depot