Peak everything: global resource depletion rates

This is something I’ve been looking for for quite some time – the depletion rates of various non-renewable resources. This graph shows the number of years of supply that remain, if we were to carry on consuming at today’s rates.

Of course, consumption of every one of these resources is growing rather than remaining at a steady depletion rate, so we don’t actually have as long as the numbers here might suggest. They also assume that all known reserves are recoverable, but the easily accessible reserves are mined first. The last dregs might be in mountainous terrain or war zones, and just uneconomic to exploit.

On the other hand, recycling means there will be life beyond these figures. Gold and silver will be melted down and recast, although expect the prices to rise considerably. There are also alternatives. Indium is a metal that can be spread in uniquely thin layers, and is used to make LCDs and touchscreens. There may only be 13 years of naturally occuring indium left, but it can be produced from zinc or copper refining processes.

I’d also like a second opinion on these figures. They’ve been compiled by the information agency CIRCA and published in their book Where we are now, using data from the University of Augsburg. If anyone knows of a more immediate source, please let me know.

Either way, it’s pretty crazy to think that in 50 years time we may have used up all the economically accessible supplies of some very useful and important things, such as tin, lead and oil. Managing the decline of natural resources could turn out to be one of the political priorities of the century.

More:

Tags: ,

13 Comments on “Peak everything: global resource depletion rates”

  1. Sam Norton January 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    The coal one looks a bit high, in the light of the various analyses done over the last five years – lots of stuff on the OilDrum about it, search under ‘Routledge’.

  2. Suhit Anantula January 13, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    One thing that can be different is that more the known reserves will increase and/or alternatives for their use will be found including more recycling.

  3. Jeremy January 13, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    I see what you mean Sam. Interesting that in this case global reserves have been revised downwards rather than upwards. Rather than finding more, we’re discovering there’s a whole lot less than we thought.

  4. Robert Rapplean May 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    I was noticing that you said that indium can be produced from zinc or copper. This is an odd statement because indium is an element, and can’t be synthesized with anything less than a particle accelerator. Are you referring to extracting indium from zinc or copper ore?

    • Jeremy June 1, 2010 at 9:06 am #

      Sorry, an unclear statement from me – it cannot be created out of zinc or copper, but it can be extracted from the zinc or copper refining processes. It is unusual to find pure reserves of indium, but it is often found mixed with other metals.

  5. Custers November 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Hi, New Scientist had some very good graphs in 2007. Best, Raf Custers, researcher, Brussels blog http://www.soulpress.be

  6. permaculture kentucky December 23, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    In terms of a practical understanding of nature, compared to the bees we are but infants.
    When the ‘counter-culture’ movement was in full swing in the United States in the late 1960s,
    many younger people began a ‘back to the earth’ movement in an attempt to draw a closer connection the
    land that they instinctively knew sustained them. Offering
    a variety of specialty produce alongside strong selling products establishes a foundation
    of success with any business and this includes a fruit-stand or Farmer’s Market enterprise.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Peak everything: global resource depletion rates « MAKE WEALTH HISTORY -- Topsy.com - January 14, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Donnie Maclurcan, Tony Durham and Jeremy Williams, Joshua Nelson. Joshua Nelson said: Peak everything: global resource depletion rates http://bit.ly/5mZe0U […]

  2. Science fiction, or the future of clean energy – what is nuclear fusion? « Make Wealth History - July 29, 2010

    […] the issue of radioactive waste, and the limited stocks of uranium. At current rates of use, we have around 59 years of uranium left, but that will quickly reduce if nuclear power grows much beyond the 16% of the […]

  3. A non-renewable resource stock check | Make Wealth History - November 12, 2012

    […] that we live on a finite planet, and are dependent on resources that are non-renewable. I’ve written about it before, but this is a neater presentation than […]

  4. 10 Reasons to Care about the Environment | The Adventures of Tulip and Tom - October 16, 2013

    […] if mining continues at its current rate.  Studies have recently shown that the world run out of oil completely within the next 50 years.  It is up to us now to find renewable sources of energy […]

  5. Dear America | True Newz - May 21, 2015

    […] 11. Global Resource Depletion Rates: https://makewealthhistory.org/…/peak-everything-global-reso…/ […]

  6. Five Fast Facts about 1% for the Planet (And Why You Should Care) - Leap | Organic Vegetable & Fruit Smoothie - September 29, 2016

    […] for the remainder of 2016, we’ll be living on resources borrowed from future generations. And at the rate we’re depleting Earth’s resources, our children will be the ones who are suffering from our actions. They’ll be the first […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: