saul had a good map of where the carbon is stored on the planet.
the problematic cycle is that we’re emitting 7Gt/year co2 and only 5Gt is being reabsorbed. by comparison, there are 600Gt in the atmosphere and 100 times that in the oceans. (Gt is gigatons)
my view is we need to innovate our way out of this mess. if we tighten our belts and don’t invest, it’s just a slower collapse.
makes me wonder about the use of carbon dioxide in metabolism
carbon dioxide is not the only form of carbon. is life also a carbon sink? can algae blooms act simultaneously act as a co2 buffer and something to moderate the temperature shifts that co2 will bring about?
18% of the human body is carbon, 65% is oxygen.
let’s think about binding carbon: each person binds 18kg carbon. you need 55 billion people to bind a gigaton.
you can get 115 tons of algae per hectare.
assume that’s 20t of carbon. so to bind 100Gt (enough to keep up for 50 years, which I’ll assume is the time we need to hit equilibrium), we need 5 billion hectares of algae… 19 million square miles. that’s a square over 4000 miles on the side.
this would actually fit in the middle of the pacific. it’s continent sized, so we’d have to live on it. but we could use energy generated by the photosynthesis of the algae to do something else… maybe generate something white to increase the albedo of the earth to decrease heating.
saul also mentioned electricity
i think electricity should be generated centrally because there are economies of scale, but the stupid thing about it is it has to run along cables. the tendency of things is to become abstracted from their substrate. i think we’ll end up with batteries that look like gravel that are a universal fuel: replacing gas, electricity, petrol, etc. buy it anywhere and shovel it in.
he also has a great breakdown of the watts is takes to run different things. eg, his share of the usa nuclear deterrent is 50W.
there’s also a gorgeous mockup of “consumption facts” on the side of a fruit bottle, showing how many watts it takes from your daily watt allowance.