When I saw Christopher Mims’ tweet about this, I thought: hey, new infographic showing the world’s energy, cool! But this is an infographic that is so mindboggling that you will have to build the image it in your own head, using just the word picture in this post. Astonishing, this world we live in and take for granted.

Originally posted on Heliophage:

I’m fascinated by the fact the Earth-system is a massive conduit of power, with energy flowing into the system in the form of sunlight, flowing out of it as infrared. The flow involved is simply extraordinary: 120,000 terawatts. That’s 10,000 times the amount that flows through our industrial civilisation – all the world’s reactors, turbines, cars, furnaces, boilers, generators and so on put together. Yet so firmly are we tethered, and so smooth is the flow, that we hardly notice this torrent thundering past and through us. It just feels like the world.

So here’s an image to try and capture the immensity of the flow in which we are embedded. Picture Horseshoe Falls, the most familiar, forceful and dramatic cataract in Niagara Falls, in full spate.

Now increase the height of the falls by a factor of 20; a kilometre of falling water, a cascade higher even than Angel…

View original 109 more words

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About aranyak

I am an associate professor of vertebrate ecology at California State University, Fresno.
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