Art installation in Milan shows how much CO2 trees capture

Natural Capital is one of the largest data visualizations ever created, and it is suitably impressive. This installation has been erected in the famous historical botanical garden in Milan, the Orto Botanico di Brera. It shows exactly how plants absorb emissions in a way that’s beautiful, informative and poignant.

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Bubbles light up with different colors at night in a forest area

Each tree species is matched with a sphere that shows how much CO2 the trees can capture and store. This installation is the result of a collaboration between design office Carol Ratti Associati (CRA) and energy company Eni. Natural Capital will examine the key role that trees play in creating oxygen and by showing how much CO2 each tree species can capture and store. The installation is spread out over 500 square meters of garden, a striking series of floating bubbles.

Related: How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

Left to right: A close up of kilograms of CO2, a close up of another bubble in a garden

Eni is committed to protecting forests as part of its decarbonization strategy. Each large globe showed exactly how much CO2 would be in the air if the trees weren’t here to collect it. You can visually see how much dangerous gas would be in the atmosphere for each and every single tree. It’s a lot to take in and that’s exactly what this installation is all about.

Bubbles floating in a garden area with people walking through and viewing the exhibit

The entrance to the garden has a giant sphere that’s right on the ground. This is the amount of CO2 that is produced, on average, by a human body every single year. Humans need nature and that’s why we must preserve nature.

Bubbles floating on a bush lit up with lights inside of it

Together, CRA and Eni plan to explore circular economy and sustainability paradigms. This data visualization is an excellent reminder of how important forest ecosystems are.

+ Carlo Ratti Associati