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Use Up Resources At The Same Rate As Deposition

Set a maximum resource use for each material at the rate of natural production
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Right now, it appears that many materials are mined faster than they are being laid down. At a rough guess, these would include calcium sulphate, calcium carbonate, coal, crude oil, natural gas and various non-sedimentary products such as granite and pumice. Although this situation is not sustainable, it probably isn't that simple either because as a species we must have an influence on the geological processes of the planet which might encourage the production of some minerals through the likes of changing the pH of the oceans or increasing soil erosion, so it's not simply a question of exploiting the mineral resources of the planet. Also, almost none of the subtances we use permanently leave the planet, and there is a net increase in mass due to meteorites.

It ought to be possible to audit geological activity to determine how much of various materials are deposited per unit of time. Some of this production will be our "fault". For instance, presumably there is now a lot more sulphuric acid than there used to be in the form of precipitation, and I would imagine also more shale, and to a lesser extent slate.

We could therefore set international, or maybe individual or national, quotas to determine how much of each substance the human race, smaller populations or each of us use of these materials, calculated by dividing some kind of minimum total production over a lifetime or less, in order to provide a conceptual quota similar to a carbon footprint. Also, our activities which do things like encourage sulphuric acid production, thereby, I imagine, reducing limestone production, could be similarly calculated so that we could each use more of the other substances. In this example, you would think about using less concrete or cement but you would then be allowed to use more sulphuric acid.

There could also be projects which would encourage the production of materials via planetary engineering, so for example we could make more concrete or cement, having taken account of the by-products of their production, in order to compensate the loss of the resources in our industrial and domestic activities. To a limited extent, this already happens in the use of biomass to produce hydrocarbons, but maybe we could also do things like build massive underwater calcium carbonate structures to replace the coral reefs and so on.

Eventually, and this is a very extreme use of that word, the entire surface of the planet would be completely artificially manufactured, but it would still have the same composition as it has today.

nineteenthly, Mar 16 2016

Elesorter Elesorter_20(and_20Isosorter)
Recycle anything. As mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, Mar 16 2016]

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       There's a problem with this. 500 years ago we didn't use oil, and in another 200 years we might not use it much, again. Likewise, most minerals pass in and out of use.   

       If we use up 90% of the neodymium ores for magnets, and then discover a new and better alternative in five years, what's the problem?   

       Your proposal only makes sense if demand stays constant over geological timescales.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 16 2016
  

       What about recycling? For various reasons besides food supplies, global population should eventually stabilize. That means constant demand for various things, and constant waste production. With appropriate processing, much of the wastes could be recycled to supply the demand. I'll add a link....
Vernon, Mar 16 2016
  

       We are consuming resources at the same rate as thy were laid down. We're just making up for many million of years of under-consumption.
hippo, Mar 16 2016
  

       [MB], it would be possible to change what we replace as technology changes. Also, I wasn't thinking in terms of all possible resources because some of them are presumably not regularly formed or cast up to the crust, and the likes of rare earths and various others are, I suspect, not amenable to that kind of replacement.
nineteenthly, Mar 16 2016
  

       //only makes sense if demand stays constant over geological timescales.//   

       One of the more comforting features of Rentishams is that it's supply remains stable over geological timescales.
bs0u0155, Mar 17 2016
  
      
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