We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Global Resource Consumption to Triple by 2050
As usual we get the hand
wringing.In the end resource
consumption will be huge and every human being will participate.Get over it and allow pricing to do its
job.The demand increases slowly enough
to allow price signals to do their work.
To start with we are entering a
world of freely available energy that will not be tied to fuels.Goodbye to coal, oil and uranium.Just that will make a lot of other resources much
cheaper.If power drops in cost by an
order of magnitude, electrical separation becomes cheap.That means aluminum becomes very competitive in
place of steel.
Recall that all materials have
slightly more expensive alternatives and a price increase brings these on.Just what do you think the oil sands are all
about except the replacement of cheap oil with great gobs of expensive oil?
Oh well, as long as there are
forecasters and simple models, we will have to listen to the end of happiness.
Global consumption of natural resources could almost triple to 140 billion tons
a year by 2050 unless nations take drastic steps, the United Nations warned
A UN environment panel said
the world cannot sustain the tearaway rate of use of minerals, ores and fossil
and plant fuels. It called on governments to "decouple" economic
growth from natural resource consumption.
With the world population expected to hit 9.3 billion by 2050 and
developing nations becoming more prosperous, the report warned "the
prospect of much higher resource consumption levels is far beyond what is
A UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
panel said the world is already running out of cheap and quality sources of
some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold, which in turn need
rising volumes of fuel and water to produce.
It said governments must find ways to do more with less, at a faster
rate than economic growth -- the notion of "decoupling".
"We must realize that prosperity and well-being do not depend on
consuming ever-greater quantities of resources," said the report.
"Decoupling is not about stopping growth. It's about doing more
with less. Global resource consumption is exploding. It's not a trend that is
in any way sustainable."
Total world resource use has risen from about six billion tons in 1900
to 49 billion tons in 2000 and has already gone up to an estimated 59 billion
Currently people in rich nations consume an average of 16 tons of
minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass -- fuels and other products from
plants -- per year. In some wealthy countries the figure rises to 40 tons.
however, the average person only consumes four tons per year, the report said.
The panel said there has to be a major rethink of resource use and
in technological, financial and social innovation to at least freeze
consumption levels in wealthy countries.
"People believe that environmental 'bads' are the price we must
pay for economic 'goods'. However, we cannot and need not continue to act as if
this trade-off is inevitable," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.
Mark Swilling, a professor at the University of Stellenbosch in South
Africa who was one of the authors of the report, said rapid industrialization
and the growing population was leading to the resource crisis.
"There is another billion middle-class consumers on the way as a
result of rapid industrialization in developing countries,"
He said that current rates of efficiency to make goods and services
mean that "we are looking at that massive growth to 140 billion
With populations in rich countries stabilizing or falling, the main
challenge would be in developing countries.
The latest of a series of UNEP reports on economic and environmental
sustainability said decoupling has started but is not being activated quickly
Between 1980 and 2002, the resources required for 1,000 dollars of
economic output fell from 2.1 tons to 1.6 tons. The increasing move of people
from the countryside to cities as helped as this aids campaigns to achieve
economies of scale, the report said.
The authors praised Germany
for their move to set goals for energy and resource productivity. It
highlighted how South Africa's
constitution requires "ecologically sustainable development and the use of
China has also set out to build an
"ecological civilization" and the report said that China would be
a "test case" because of its huge population and growing
"The measures that China
introduces to reconcile these objectives will be of crucial significance for
every other developing country with similar policy intentions," the report
A world summit on sustainable development is to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June