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That is, the equilibrium point should have long since been reached given the present rate of carbon-14 production and the old age of the earth.
Strahler presents a graph of the earth's dipole moment going back 9000 years.Sometimes it slows down to a trickle so that much more water is leaking out the barrel than is coming in; sometimes it goes full blast so that a lot more water is coming into the barrel than is leaking out. Lingenfelter's paper was written in 1963, before the cycles of C-14 variation we described had been fully documented.Thus, the mere fact that the present rate of water coming in exceeds that of the water leaking out cannot be extrapolated back to a starting time. The point is that fluctuations in the rate of C-14 production mean that at times the production rate will exceed the decay rate, while at other times the decay rate will be the larger.We stick the garden hose in and turn it on full blast.The water coming out of the hose is analogous to the continuous production of carbon-14 atoms in the upper atmosphere.