The Guardian's 'National carbon calculator'
Yesterday we published on guardian.co.uk an incredibly complex interactive to calculate the carbon output of the UK. It gives the reader the opportunity to be virtual PM, and to set policies to try to bring our emissions down to the levels we are promising too. It has been a huge amount of hard work crunching spreadsheets and fuzzling XML files, and my colleague Mairead O'Connor has written a blog post about the methodology behind the tool.
What I particularly like is that it isn't just an interactive where you slide some sliders and twiddle some knobs. It has a story to tell. As you use it, you begin to realise that no political party is going to be able to meet the UK's carbon emission reduction targets without pursuing some policy decisions that will be very unpopular.
Given that we are in the middle of the election campaign, our environment team also got the three main parties to use the tool, and to say how their policy proposals mapped onto it. Actually, the Liberal Democrats and Labour used the tool, but Greg Clark for Conservatives wrote his piece without displaying the results he got. And sometimes the comments below the line on newspaper articles are worth their weight in gold, with contributions like:
"Nice ideas about funding insulation etc, but by refusing to use the calculator we're left with no idea of how much effect your plans will have."
"Interesting that he didn't want to mimic Conservative policy on the calculator, instead choosing to obfuscate their position by boring us to death."
As we always try to do, the source data has been released.
Still, I think the thing that really sold me on it was that when I bookmarked it on Delicious yesterday for my link round-up, one of the suggested tags was already 'geek'.