Ask the Experts: What's the Greatest Resource Scarcity We Now Face?

Horatiu Gheorghe/CC BY-ND 2.0

We're facing serious resource constraints in a number of key areas, what's the most critical of these and what's the biggest factor in creating that scarcity?

Janet Larsen of the Earth Policy Institute answered:

"With our human population expanding and resource consumption growing even faster, we are close to hitting the wall in a number of arenas—fresh water, oil reserves, minerals like phosphorous for fertilizer, oceanic fisheries, and nature’s ability to absorb climate-altering carbon dioxide, among others. But the scarcest resource of all is time.

We do not know exactly how much time we have before the problems created by our excesses are too big or too far along for us to handle, but we do know that time is running out.

Fortunately we also know what needs to be done to allow people to plan their family size to get a handle on population growth. We know how to protect and restore earth’s ecosystems. And we know that moving with wartime speed on efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, and diversified transport systems will give us the best chance of getting off our dead-end fossil fuel habit. That is what we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent climate change from spiraling completely out of control. Beating this ticking clock will take all hands on deck."

Janet Larsen is the Director of Research for the Earth Policy Institute. For more information see www.earth-policy.org, where you can find free downloads of all the institute's publications, including Lester R. Brown's latest book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse.

© Earth Policy Institute

Tags: Ask The Experts | Consumerism | Environmental Footprint

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