Tag Archives | Natural Resources

Earth Could be ‘Unrecognizable’ by 2050

Earth As Seen From Apollo 17Via Discovery News:
A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday. The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council. To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). "By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.
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U.S. Called Vulnerable To Rare Earth Shortages

Photo: Peter Morgan

Via The New York Times:

The United States is too reliant on China for minerals crucial to new clean energy technologies, making the American economy vulnerable to shortages of materials needed for a range of green products — from compact fluorescent light bulbs to electric cars to giant wind turbines.

So warns a detailed report to be released on Wednesday morning by the United States Energy Department. The report, which predicts that it could take 15 years to break American dependence on Chinese supplies, calls for the nation to increase research and expand diplomatic contacts to find alternative sources, and to develop ways to recycle the minerals or replace them with other materials.

At least 96 percent of the most crucial types of the so-called rare earth minerals are now produced in China, and Beijing has wielded various export controls to limit the minerals’ supply to other countries while favoring its own manufacturers that use them.

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The Coming Chocolate Shortage

6c66ce92540fc24397b4a1d51cc0_grandeWould smiles still exist in a world without chocolate? We may find out. Global chocolate consumption is far outpacing cocoa production, portending an ominous future in which chocolate prices rise drastically, and cheap chocolate products as we know them become a relic of the past. The Independent brings the gloom-and-doom:

John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, has forecast that shortages in bulk production in Africa will have a devastating effect: “In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”

The reason for this unimaginable shortage – which has been presaged by the doubling of cocoa prices in six years to an all-time high over the past three decades – is simple.

Farmers in the countries that produce the bulk of cocoa bought by the multinationals who control the market have found the crop a bitter harvest.

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Portable Solar Powered Desalination System A Reality

I’ve been clamoring for this kind of tech to break out of development status and into marketability for most of the last decade, and it’s just great to see it finally manifest in a way that allows for ease of transport and comparatively simple maintenance. In a world top-heavy with serious issues, this is a breath of fresh air … or more to the point, a drink of fresh water. Stephen C. Webster writes on RAW Story:

Desalination System

About one in eight humans do not have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. That’s approximately 884 million people.

The repercussion of this reality are a daily reality in developing nations: an estimated 1.4 million children perish each year due to diarrhea brought on by waterborne bacteria. In spite of breathtaking advances in human technology, over 97 percent of the world’s water is still undrinkable.

And while salty or impure water can be cleaned through existing water desalination technologies, the facilities needed are massive and consume vast amounts of energy.… Read the rest

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The German Military Believes ‘Peak Oil’ May Bring About the End of Democracy and Free Markets

Hubbert Peak Oil

Hubbert peak oil plot. Chart: Hankwang (CC)

Der Spiegel reports that a German military think tank believes ‘peak oil’ may occur this year, and that it could cause the collapse of both democracies and free markets within 30 years.

The political and economic impacts of peak oil on Germany have now been studied for the first time in depth. The crude oil expert Steffen Bukold has evaluated and summarized the findings of the Bundeswehr study. Here is an overview of the central points:

  • Oil will determine power: The Bundeswehr Transformation Center writes that oil will become one decisive factor in determining the new landscape of international relations: “The relative importance of the oil-producing nations in the international system is growing. These nations are using the advantages resulting from this to expand the scope of their domestic and foreign policies and establish themselves as a new or resurgent regional, or in some cases even global leading powers.”
  • Increasing importance of oil exporters: For importers of oil more competition for resources will mean an increase in the number of nations competing for favor with oil-producing nations.
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International Young Water Professionals Discuss Water Fears

This week in Australia, the International Young Water Professionals meet to discuss the repercussions of climate change, war, and other factors on our water supply. In the driest continent, 25 countries are represented to voice concerns and contemplate solutions so that our growing populations and destructive habits don’t put an end to our tap water. Phil Mercer of The National covers:

Experts from Oman, Kenya and Austria joined others from across the world to discuss sustainability and how communities in drier regions must adapt to warmer temperatures to safeguard precious supplies into the future.

The meeting dealt with basic issues of survival, said Katerina Ruzicka, a research assistant at the Institute of Water Quality at Vienna’s University of Technology.

“A huge problem we are facing besides climate change is water for food,” Ms Ruzicka said. “We have to feed a growing population and you need water to produce food.

“Somehow we will be able to cope with it because humans do always somehow cope with huge challenges in one way or another.”

Ensuring that supplies continue to flow to the nation’s homes and businesses has been a pressing concern for authorities in Australia.

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The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti

Mineral Map of HaitiF. William Engdahl writes on Global Research:

Behind the smoke, rubble and unending drama of human tragedy in the hapless Caribbean country, a drama is in full play for control of what geophysicists believe may be one of the world’s richest zones for hydrocarbons-oil and gas outside the Middle East, possibly orders of magnitude greater than that of nearby Venezuela.

Haiti, and the larger island of Hispaniola of which it is a part, has the geological fate that it straddles one of the world’s most active geological zones, where the deepwater plates of three huge structures relentlessly rub against one another — the intersection of the North American, South American and Caribbean tectonic plates. Below the ocean and the waters of the Caribbean, these plates consist of an oceanic crust some 3 to 6 miles thick, floating atop an adjacent mantle. Haiti also lies at the edge of the region known as the Bermuda Triangle, a vast area in the Caribbean subject to bizarre and unexplained disturbances.

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