To solve any environmental issues associated with us in the best “interests” of the planet would require the human species have a cyanide breakfast tomorrow. So to halt or reverse our impact on our environment we would need to return to a net gas and solid transfer in line with that of what our ancestors (granted, they had a population a fraction of our size).
So for a 180 lb mammal who is on an omnivorous diet what should our “carbon footprint” look like? I know that you’ve got to factor in returning organic material, nitrates, and remove our toxic leavings etc… so lets say we effectively live the life of a tropical hunter/gatherer and let our excrement take care of the rest. Given a hyper technological, extreme recycling regime, strive for a “closed system” society, how far off the mark are we when it comes to what we contribute to our environment in regard to the “natural” currencies?
I don’t understand the question. You talk about a hypothetical “tropical hunter/gatherer” society but also include “hyper technological” solutions. These seem incompatible, or at least redundant. Particularly given that you conceed that our ancestors were enviromentally neutral without hypertechnology.
I suppose what I’m clawing at is we won’t willingly revert to hunter/gatherer tendencies, but to halt/reverse environmental damage we must match our ancestors “environmental footprint” so to speak.
For example, say one ancestor on average removed 200 kg of carbon per year from their surroundings, deposited 160 kg of carbon into the lithosphere, and 35 kg of carbon into the atmosphere. Those numbers of course are completely fictional, but I’d imagine that as a modern North American I am contributing several dozen times more than that to the environment.
I would like to point out that I know CO2 is only one piece of the puzzle, and that the variety of substances and cycles involved is very complex.
I suppose I’d like to know by what factor must I reduce my impact to mirror that of a “one with the nature” ancestor? And is it possible with high technology?
Don’t use any fossil fuels, or eat any food that was grown by using fossil fuels, or any products that were manufactured with fossil fuels. Burn as much biomass (wood, grass, dried dung, etc.)as you like, as long as it wasn’t harvested using fossil fuels.
Now you’re just as short-term-carbon-neutral as your typical hunter gatherer was.
Alternatively, you can use some fossil fuels, you just have to plant trees equivalent to the amount of fossil fuels you burnt, let them grow to maturity, cut them down, and preserve them for near-eternity (a few million years should do) so that they never rot or decompose. Or figure out some other way to sequester your own personal atmospheric carbon production from the fossil fuels you used.
Technically, you don’t even have to sequester the trees. You can do this without biomass whatsoever, if you sequester the carbon chemically (Make a bunch of limestone or whatever).
You could also do it by just increasing living biomass in proportion to your sequestered carbon release. Say you have 1 acre of forest, and each year you burn one acre of forest’s worth of fossil fuels. If you then plant a second acre of forest, you’ve made up for your year. Repeat as needed. It doesn’t matter if some trees die, new ones will grow, so carbon will remain sequestered in a living forest just as well as in dead buried trees. Works until you run out of space, unless you develop more efficient per area plant species.
The important thing to remember is that you want to remove carbon from the biosphere and put back into inert-ish forms. Stop recycling paper today – take it to the landfill instead.