Don’t wait until we’re toast!

International Day of Climate Action – Toronto, ON + Victoria, BC, 10.24.09
CO2 Toaster Widget is a collaborative project by Michael McGee,, Franke James,, and Billiam James, The James Gang.

CO2 Toaster Widget

by Franke James

A chicken in every pot?

Nope — a toaster. For’s International Day of Climate Action we’re giving everyone in the world a toaster. Because we think that’s the best way to deliver this message:

Don’t wait until we’re toast!
Cut your CO2 Now!

Use the CO2 Toaster Widget To Track CO2

Today, in more than 181 countries, over 5200 climate actions are taking place, showing us why “350 is the most important number on the planet.”

“350 is a very tough number. We’re already well past it—the atmosphere holds 390 ppm today, which is why the Arctic is melting and the ocean steadily acidifying. To get back to the safe level we need a very rapid halt to the use of coal, gas and oil so that forests and oceans can absorb some of that carbon.”
Bill McKibben, founder of

350 is top-of-mind today, but what about next month?

So, awareness of 350 is high today thanks to Bill McKibben, and the International Day of Climate Action. But months down the road, how many people will know whether we’re any closer to our goal of reaching 350ppm? Will you be able to say what the current CO2 level is?

Plug the CO2 Toaster in!

That’s where the CO2 Toaster comes in. Just plug this toaster into your website or blog, and you can keep track of CO2 from now on. (You can also see what the CO2 level was for that same month, twenty years ago.) The widget pulls data for atmospheric CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory (and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in the United States. It’s THE authoritative source for CO2 emissions and has been tracking them since 1959. Data is updated once a month.

Widget Installation

Co2 Toaster Widget: 200 x 280 pixels

1. Copy the HTML code below.

2. Paste it into the source code at your website or blog.

<!–Start CO2 Widget–> <object width=”200″ height=”280″ > <param name=”movie” value=”” > </param> <param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” > </param> <param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” > </param> <embed src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”200″ height=”280″ > </embed> </object> <!–End CO2 Widget–>

Co2 Toaster Widget: 160 x 224 pixels

<!–Start CO2 Widget–> <object width=”160″ height=”224″ > <param name=”movie” value=”” > </param> <param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” > </param> <param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” > </param> <embed src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”160″ height=”224″ > </embed> </object> <!–End CO2 Widget–>

Making the CO2 Toaster:

The CO2 Toaster Widget came about because Michael McGee, creator of, admired the original toaster drawing I’d done for my book launch. He said, “You know that would make a really handsome little widget…”

And I agreed. With a little bit of data intelligence from Michael, plus technical wizardry from my husband and design partner, Bill, the CO2 Toaster was born. Proving that right-brain metaphors and left-brain data can mix and produce lively offspring. How many toasters get replicated around the world is up to you.

Michael’s verdict, “CO2 prefers to keep quiet and out of site. The CO2 Toaster widget yanks away the invisibility cloak and reveals CO2 for the culprit that it is. This widget grabs attention and shares important information about our planet. Not only does it say what CO2 is right now, it shows what CO2 has been, and what it should be. Great job Franke and Bill! Great climate action.”

Plugging in the CO2 Toaster is easy and fun.

It’s going to help me track our progress towards the 350 goal.

Because if we don’t take action now — we really will be toast.

350 logo

CO2 Toaster widget © 2009 Franke James, MFA

CO2 Now Widget Resources
Examples of websites with a CO2 widget
The data speaks for itself
Widget help centre

Off-the-Record Video Journalism at Camp VJ

Well, I had a little bit of a problem using the camcorder. Thought the red dot meant “Stop”, and the green dot meant “Go”. (Hey, I was at Camp VJ because I’m not usually the person holding the video camera. And of course, because Robb Montgomery was in town doing his guru thing on Video Journalism.)

Anyways, I got it completely backwards. On-the-record was off. And off-the-record was on! So I didn’t get any of the “good footage” I thought I was recording. I just got the edges… Fortunately, that’s where the story turned up.

Note: The music is “Showdown” by Manolo Camp and is from Opsound and is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

For the Record: Top Ten Things I learned at Camp VJ

10. Wear headphones to “hear” what your microphone is actually recording. Otherwise you’re recording blind.

9. Use a tripod for interviews. Let it be the cameraman, so you can concentrate on interviewee.

8. A newspaper story is NOT a product. It is a service. So, your story must evolve and respond to your customer’s needs.

7. The grammar of photography (and videos) is made with the type of shots you use — wide, medium, close-ups.

6. Use a sequence of images to tell a story through time.

5. Remember 3-6-9: Walk the line between camera and subject: Wide, medium tight (3 shots) – 6 seconds each – Three angles for 9 sequences.

4. Hold your camera like a weapon. Steady. Use two hands, centered on your spine for stability.

3. Keep eye contact with your subject. Listen, nod and try to keep your mouth shut while they’re talking.

2. Do all your tech prep (Make sure everything works and double-check it!) before the interview.

1. The red light on a video camera does NOT mean “Stop.” It means “Recording…”

Thanks to Robb Montgomery, Roger Gillespie, Kathy Vey, and the Toronto Star for putting together three great days of learning!