I like Douglass Adams’ metaphor: “The Shoe Event Horizon”, where archaeologists find a planet rebuilt upon a layer of shoes covering the entire planet (like our K-T boundary layer). Consumerism will leave a layer of chemical compounds, metals and plastics behind.
Carbon isn’t our problem. Extractive consumptionism is. What we used to call “colonialism” has now advanced from countries to the planet. Humans created civilization (cities) as a way to isolate ourselves from our environment. We could then hunt and extract resources with no worries about the resources coming into our homes and fighting back…until now. Now, we have tried to ‘colonize’ the entire planet without returning any value to its existence.
The predicament we are in is that humans believe they are more important than everything else on the planet. Just ask one. What we don’t believe is that future humans(and their environment) should be more important than present humans. We provide cheap food to keep the peasants from revolting but even with all of our technology, we don’t believe the future humans will build a time machine and come back to fight us. They would already have done so, because the critical junctures have all passed.
Does anyone think we have leadership that can intentionally reverse the way human economies work (put our wealth toward land instead of toward banks)?