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The Many Shapes of the Carbon Pulse | Frankly #44
This week, I am breaking down an oft used concept from my work - the Carbon Pulse. A one time massive consumption of fossil hydrocarbons at a pace millions of times faster than they were created. In this reflection, I outline the many shapes that this pulse could take, as well as some shapes it will never take due to the finite nature of these compact, energy dense fossil hydrocarbons.
Compared to previous carbon pulses that led to mass and minor extinctions, how does the modern pulse compare? What can what we know about ecology and human behavior tell us about the most likely paths into descent? Can thinking about these graphs on such grand geologic time scales help guide us away from the Precipice and towards a more Sapient Future?
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In case you missed it…
While this show frequently covers the importance of energy itself, the ability to store and access energy has been just as critical in shaping societies. On last week’s episode, scholar and engineer in the field of energy, Graham Palmer, joined me to discuss the history and future of humans and energy storage.
From agriculture, to wood, to coal, to oil, each transition has marked a new way for humans to interact with the world around them. What would it mean for economic growth if we no longer have access to these storable energies? What does the necessity of storability mean for electricity - an inherently flow-based energy form? Would human societies moving back to a flow-based energy system also mean once again becoming in-sync with the Earth and her ecosystems?
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