3.9 Problems With Material Use: Resource Shortages

 

 

3.9 Problems With Material Use: Resource Shortages

The concepts of exponential growth applied to fossil fuel depletion are applicable to all resources required for material production.  Iron ore for steel, hydrocarbons (oil) for plastic, lime for concrete and alumina for aluminium are all finite resources which at some point will deplete.

As more raw materials are mined, the ore becomes less easy to obtain so more energy is required to mine it.  In fossil fuel terms this is refereed to as Energy Return on Energy Invested, and the same concept can be applied to obtaining natural resources   In some cases the energy return is becoming very small for the energy invested.

The fact that the world will run out of materials is obvious, however this is a long way off.  What's more pressing is the disappearance of good sites of extraction, causing more energy and money needed to be invested to exploit less convenient sites.  This will in turn drive up the prices and create conflict due to the uneven geographical distribution of the resources.