In the present: Invisible energy, invisible exhaust
2023 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded bringing climate change into the news, yet the connection to emissions remains unfelt. In most of America and Western Europe, the air is cleaner now than it has been in living memory, although poorer parts of the world suffer greatly from pollution. Ironically, countries with the highest emissions have no billowing smokestacks or black car exhaust to reveal the invisible carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere every day; even cigarette smokers have quit. We seem to have separated smoke from fire, making it more difficult to see the culprit. (more)
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
Day to Day
Every day carbon moves in a natural cycle. From morning to evening and through the night, plants and animals trade oxygen and carbon dioxide in an ebb and flow that supports both, without changing the total quantity in the system.
However the oil and gas burned to power the industrial world adds to the total every day. The morning commute releases a pulse of carbon dioxide that spreads from the highways outward. Through the day fuel burned in cars, ships, and airplanes leaves invisible linear clouds of exhaust on the landscape, the seas, and in the skies.
Energy itself also flows invisibly through the air in electro-magnetic waves from cell phones, radios/TV, GPS, and every sort of wireless network, bluetooth and wifi, moving with people in their daily work.
In the evening, internet use peaks, firing up server farms in a wave across the globe, which push powerplants to burn yet more fuel, releasing yet more carbon dioxide. 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 lights the Earth with about 10,000 times the energy created by burning fuel. 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, from https://blog.solarenergymaps.com/2016/05/#.W6VP9lJRe_g.
Solar Potential: Solargis. (2018). "Solar Resource Maps of World." Retrieved 21 September 2018 from https://solargis.com/maps-and-gis-data/download/world.
Wind Potential: Department of Wind Energy Technological University of Denmark and World Bank Group. (2018). "Global Wind Atlas." Retrieved 21 September 2018, 2018, from https://globalwindatlas.info/en.
CO2: Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (2018). "The Keeling Curve: Carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory." Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/.
Temperature: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. (2018). "Global Temperature 2017: Monthly Temperature Anomalies." Note that temperature is measured relative to average surface temperature 1951-1980, 14°C (57°F). See: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/global-temperatures Current temperature retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/.
Sea Level: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (2018). "Sea Level: Satellite Data: 1993-Present." Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet, Sea level measured since 1993, when sea level was 135cm above level in 1900. See: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1 Current sea level retrieved 26 March 2022, from https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/.
Population: Worldometers. (2018). "World Population by Year." Retrieved 26 March 2022 from https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/