Articles | Volume 13, issue 2
Earth Syst. Dynam., 13, 1021–1028, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-13-1021-2022
Earth Syst. Dynam., 13, 1021–1028, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-13-1021-2022
Research article
15 Jun 2022
Research article | 15 Jun 2022

Lotka's wheel and the long arm of history: how does the distant past determine today's global rate of energy consumption?

Timothy J. Garrett et al.

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Short summary
Current world economic production is rising relative to energy consumption. This increase in production efficiency suggests that carbon dioxide emissions can be decoupled from economic activity through technological change. We show instead a nearly fixed relationship between energy consumption and a new economic quantity, historically cumulative economic production. The strong link to the past implies inertia may play a more dominant role in societal evolution than is generally assumed.
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