In the process of researching a feature for the Earth Observatory, I always come across fascinating tidbits that just don’t quite fit into my article. For instance, there’s this great carbon calculator tool from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Early during the development of the recent carbon cycle feature, I heard NASA scientist Peter Griffith speak to a group of National Park rangers. Most scientists speak from slides full of data, and I fully expected Peter to do so as well. But he didn’t. He stood at the front of the group with just a banana and a piece of coal. In a matter of minutes, he demonstrated both the carbon cycle and why burning fossil fuels has such a big impact on the carbon cycle. It was a simple and powerful demonstration. At the end, he concluded that by burning fossil fuels, we move carbon from the slow, old carbon cycle to the fast, young carbon cycle.
The talk shaped the way I think about the carbon cycle. And while the analogy never made it into the article, the way he organized the ideas and his conclusion did. As I was finishing the article, a colleague shared this two-minute video Peter made based on that talk. Enjoy!