How much of the world's non-renewable mineral resources is really left? Are we heading for an economic crisis or collapse? How do population and exponential growth affect the mineral supply equation? More below...
This book was published 7 years ago, prior to the shale oil and gas boom in the US. The latter has served to keep the price of oil lower than expected but does not, however, change the conclusions of the book. More oil and gas only means more greenhouse gases and an acceleration of the global warming process, or at least a serious dampening of our efforts to slow it down.
Unlike oil, non-renewable minerals like iron ore, copper, and other metals do not have widely available substitutes. The problem for them remains the same. As such, this book is as relevant today as it was then. Obviously, some statistics have changed--for example, Canada (not China) was the US biggest trading partner at the time of the writing... that is no longer the case. That being said, the trends and processes outlined in the books remain true.
Non-Renewable Resources, Population Growth, and Economic Collapse
We have seen how oil shortages can wreak havoc on the global economy and result in dramatic shifts in politics and regional balance of power.
Are other minerals close to being depleted? What impact would that have on the world economy and international politics? These are questions that The Depletion Wall attempts to answer. It is the second book of the Waves of the Future Series.
It bring us up to date on the latest mineral reserve data and years of supply. It also looks at model simulations to see what would happen when shortages of non-renewable resources begin to occur.
In the early 1970s, the Club of Rome ran interactive computer simulations (Model3) and released the results in a report called Limits to Growth. Model3's business-as-usual scenario pointed to a potential world collapse in the second half of this century. This was met with a lot of disbelief and criticism at the time.
But, is this really a possibility? The world economy has been relatively fragile for decades, being thrown off more than once by oil crises and almost collapsing more recently as a result of the global banking crisis.
Interestingly enough, a new study by Graham M. Turner compared statistics from 1970 to 2000 to see whether real world data would vindicate the Club of Rome or its critics. The results:
Henderson's book analyzes the latest mineral reserve data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to see whether those also point in the same direction and reaches the same conclusion.
The book covers many more topics (historical examples and causes of social collapse, population growth forecasts, Malthusian theory and population growth cycles, economics of poverty, the wall effect of exponential growth, market size myths, depopulation economics and strategies, the aging baby boomer generation problem, etc.), non only to set arguments within context but also support and firmly establish conclusions:
While the symptoms have only begun to appear, the disease--which was diagnosed as far back as 1972 by the Club of Rome--is firmly established and will have deadly and dire consequences. At this point, even aggressive policies will only mitigate the consequences of four decades of neglect... but tough measures are better than a severe and prolong economic crisis or collapse.