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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Bye-bye Carbon

Bye-bye Carbon

Photo by K B on Unsplash

Ours is a carbon based economy. On the other hand, carbon emissions are wrecking the climate; for proof just take a look at this short tour de force from Paul Beckwith. In related news UK emissions in 2023 fell to lowest level since 1879. But why is that so? Are we on a path to a green Nirvana, or something entirely different is going on? If you suspect that it is the latter, then this one is for you.

For starters, take a look at this chart, from the Carbon Brief article linked above. Wow, the UK is back to 1879 levels of emissions, when steam locomotives were all the hype, and we didn’t have neither airplanes nor cars! I mean, isn’t that shocking?! This is a precipitous, relentless fall, clearly signalling an end to an era.

There is one minor snag though: this has little to nothing to do with climate policies. And while the well researched and fairly objective Carbon Brief article admits so, it fails to name the elephant in the room. Beyond the many blips and dents what you can see on this chart, dear reader, is a textbook example on how peak carbon looks like. The UK has unwillingly provided us with a Petri-dish experiment on how the depletion of a finite energy resource puts an end to an era of economic, military and geo-strategic dominance together with rising living standards.

Missing entirely from the conversation around both emissions and economic growth is the fact that this is what happens when a country is running out of cheap and easy to access carbon, like easy to mine coal, or oil and gas gushing out from a well. Take a glance at the chart above once again…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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