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Industrial Capitalism Still on Course to Consume the World

Echoing the now weary warnings of scientists, environmentalists and other well-meaning people, a United Nations report released Thursday says: “By 2050, humanity could devour an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year — three times its current appetite — unless the economic growth rate is ‘decoupled’ from the rate of natural resource consumption.”

“Decoupled” in this case means a condition in which high resource consumption is no longer considered a marker of healthy economies. –ARK

Inter Press Service:

The world is running out of cheap and high quality sources of some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold, the supplies of which, in turn, require ever-rising volumes of fossil fuels and freshwater to produce, the report found.

… During the 20th century, the rate of resource use has increased twice as fast as the increase in global population. Now, resources are being consumed at an even greater rate and are on pace to triple by 2050, the report calculates. Except there simply aren’t enough resources left on the planet to manage that.

… North America’s infrastructure, including transportation, sanitation, food production and so on, are all high-energy, high-material-use systems, said report co-author Fischer-Kowalski. They were designed with the assumption of never-ending access to cheap and plentiful energy and resources. Efficiency improvements can be made but it is more expensive and limits to what can be done.

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