Dr. Henry Janzen, CMU Scientist in Residence — Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times (video)

Carbon atoms flit ceaselessly through our lands and lives, conveying the sun’s sustaining energy in endless cycles between air and life and back to air again. These silent streams of carbon, propelled by sun, thus connect all species in a planet-wide continuum: carbon atoms released to air from decaying garden compost may be wafted far afield to be captured by a tropical tree and reappear in your neighbour’s banana.

People have always depended on these carbon flows, but as our numbers and wants have multiplied, we have been meddling more and more with the natural carbon cycles, by despoiling our lands and burning of fossil fuels. Symptoms of our use and misuse of carbon are reflected now in global worries about climate, hunger, extinction of species, energy, and societal conflict. These stresses will not be resolved by science alone; they demand also our learning to live more wisely and creatively within Earth’s carbon cycle.

Dr. Janzen aims to describe the story of carbon flowing through nature and society, and then to explore some questions that emerge: questions relevant to all of us, enfolding interwoven strands of science, of ethics, of wonder—and ultimately—of hope.

Recorded February 4, 2015.