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In the present:  Invisible energy, invisible exhaust







In most of America and Western Europe, the air is cleaner now than it has been in living memory, even as poorer countries suffer greatly from pollution. No billowing smokestacks or black car exhaust reveal the invisible carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere every day; even cigarette smokers have quit. Yet emissions continue to grow apace.  We seem to have separated smoke from fire, making it more difficult to see the culprit.  (more) 

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Major solar and wind power installations and areas with potential for wind and solar

Adapted from Solargis and Department of Wind Energy, Technological University of Denmark

High potential for solar generation

Major solar installations

High potential for wind generation

Major wind installations

In the present:  Current Measures of Critical Indices

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Day to Day

Every day carbon moves in both natural and industrial cycles.  As the sun rises, plants begin photosynthesis, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to capture energy from sunlight. Through the day plants and animals trade oxygen and carbon dioxide in a natural ebb and flow that supports both, without changing the total quantity in the atmosphere. 

In the industrial world the morning commute releases a pulse of new carbon dioxide into the air.  Fuel burned in cars, ships, and airplanes leaves invisible linear clouds of exhaust on the landscape, the seas, and in the skies Throughout the business day, a significant amount of energy flows through the air in electro-magnetic waves from cell phones, radios/TV, gps, and every sort of wireless network, bluetooth and wifi.  Although energy use moves

with people, much of the carbon release is concentrated at electrical power plants, point sources that can be seen with an infrared camera. In the evening, internet use peaks, firing up server farms across the globe.  And at night, when the highways are quiet, long-distance trucks deliver goods to market, trains rumble into cities and cargo planes fly.


Every day the sun showers the Earth with about 10,000 times the energy that we currently use.  During the day solar energy increases in a parabolic curve that crests at noon then declines as the sun descends in the sky.  Off-shore breeze in the morning turns to on-shore breeze in the evening.  At night, heat that has been absorbed by buildings, rocks, and water reradiates back into the cooler air.



Image: Composite from photos taken by author

Map: Solar Farms: Cohen, J. (2017). "Solar Energy Maps."   Retrieved 21 Sept 2018, 2018, from

Solar Potential: Solargis. (2018). "Solar Resource Maps of World."   Retrieved 21 September 2018, 2018, from

Wind Farms:

Wind Potential: Department of Wind Energy Technological University of Denmark and World Bank Group. (2018). "Global Wind Atlas."   Retrieved 21 September 2018, 2018, from

CO2: Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (2018). "The Keeling Curve: Carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory."   Retrieved 20 September 2018, from

Temperature: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. (2018). "Global Temperature 2017: Monthly Temperature Anomalies."   Retrieved 20 September, 2018, from

Sea Level: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (2018). "Sea Level:  Satellite Data: 1993-Present." Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet,  Retrieved 20 September, 2018, from

Population: Worldometers. (2018). "World Population by Year." Retrieved 20 September, 2018 from

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