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Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

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  1. Chapter 4 Sustainable Resources

  2. 4.1 Introduction • Previous chapters examined whether there exists a global population problem: whether it is an issue of production or distribution • Chapter looks at the supply side of sustainability: within the context of available resources, • “are current global lifestyles sustainable” --- are there enough resources to meet limits to growth imposed by biology and society --- or, will decreasing supplies of finite resources be the factor that imposes limits to growth

  3. A fundamental question: What is a resource? Resource – supply of anything that may be regarded as useful or necessary for human being, a store upon which we can draw as we need it. (p. 109) Note: this definition make no provision for the needs of anything else in the environment

  4. Inherent in this definition is that a resource is only one if we perceive it to be one… this is perception largely guided by: (1) level of technology (2) accessibility (3) cost (4) politics (5) alternative resources for use (6) societal complexity and preference

  5. 4.1.1 Some Basic Considerations • Much of our definition of a resource is defined directly or indirectly by economic perspectives (NOT all though) --- thus, we must distinguish between: (1) Earth resources (natural resources) (2) Manufactured capital (materials made from Earth resources) (3) Human capital (physical and mental resources of a population)

  6. We further examine natural resources – natural product deemed by humans to be useful (p. 164) – as being: stocks – fixed in reserve over the short-term; they are thus non-renewable flow – renewable, so that they can be harvested indefinitely over time - The classification non-renewable resource is particularly bothersome

  7. Conflicting View of Non-renewable Resources (from economic geography) - Preserving a supply of non-renewable resources for future generations is at best an uncertain task … complicated by quantitative (quantity) and conceptual (what they are) problems - Arguments over definition and quantity may viewed according to environmentalist and economist perspectives

  8. - environmentalist – world as a fixed population carrying capacity, so resources are finite … technology can increase current levels, but cannot exceed world basic productivity … environmentalists take a long-term view - economist – “… resources are not fixed in amount but created, in response to needs, through market mechanisms.” … if a resource becomes scarce, prices rise and consumption falls … price increase increases the supply of a good and stimulates search for a substitute

  9. - The economist would argue that carrying capacity is tied to level of technology… and thus to societal complexity - We popularly relate global population growth to a “J-Curve” … realistically not a smooth curve, more a series of population “spurts” associated with technology change… each of which raised global economics to support more population

  10. These developments were: (1) tool making (2) agricultural revolution (3) industrial revolution (4) post-industrial revolution (computers and robotics)

  11. Aside “Continuing population growth brings into question the earth’s capacity to provide the necessary food, energy, and industrial raw materials during the coming century.” “The Third World, being the last to achieve population equilibrium, will exert most of the new pressures upon resources.” “Thanks to new technology the global food supple will probably be adequate for the near term, beyond A.D. 2000, however, the outlook is not yet assured.” “Population growth and industrialization likewise exert pressures upon nonrenewable resources.” “The intensifying use of the earth’s resources also threatens the quality of the environment.”

  12. Can the World Support Its Future Populations? Growing Pressures ? Does the Earth have enough material resources to provide for the 11 billion expected to ultimately inhabit the planet? --- answer will depend on what happens to the two parts of the resource / population ratio … and this will depend on the standard-of-living we seek While we remain concerned about the rate of population growth (/ decade), we are encouraged that the J-Curve is evolving into an S-Curve

  13. While encouraging, there remain problems with this J-to-S: (1) stabilization will not occur at the same time across the globe (2) because of the delay function nature of population change, if we reach a replacement level population pattern today, it would be up to 50-60 years before we see this stabilization occur With current growth patterns, it is the Third World that will increasingly drain global resources

  14. As population increases, a natural consequence of this growth in resources is: (1) per capita resource use is increasing (2) new types of resource needs are arising The main reason for increased consumption of food energy and raw materials per person is the general rise in the level of development ? Neo-Malthusian growth?

  15. The equation of population growth is also changing: (1) food supply was once considered the ultimate factor limiting population growth (2) mechanical energy was added as a necessity for continued development (3) pollution control was added in recognition of pollution’s constraint, poisoning both cultures and environments (Robert Kates, The Human Environment: Penultimate Problems of Survival, 1983)

  16. Relationships between population growth and resource use are complicated by economic cycles of economic activity • A resource problem that has not been given much attention (outside of the popular press, maybe) is the political problem of resources • The politics of resources are problems arising from the location and control of a necessary resource being concentrated in one region, and the demand for that resource being concentrated in another location ex: agricultural lands, strategic minerals, petroleum, transportation, markets, water, etc

  17. Food Supply Food as a Limit to Growth • Potential of population to exceed ability to feed it is as much concern today as in Malthus’ time… urgency of this concern is a point of debate • Two contrary trends source this debate: (1) soil erosion, urban encroachment upon farmland, and other human and natural processes are acting to diminish food supply (2) technological advances are raiding food production efficiency by increasing output/unit of physical resources

  18. --- additionally, there is the consideration of level of dietary intake of the population … bringing the diets of the world to the level of the MDCs would be very difficult, at best … feeding growing populations over the short-term is not going to a real concern --- current productions remains more than sufficient to feed world populations *** Key here is world agricultural productivity continuing to increase at current rates ***

  19. Even if supply remains ahead of demand, the question of equitable distribution remains • Interesting observation that food deficit countries can be classed into two categories: (1) those that can afford to buy what they are not producing --- petroleum exporting or newly industrialized Pacific Rim countries [This is also a “power trip” by govts] (2) LDCs too poor to buy needed foodstuffs internationally --- majority of Third World countries --- even more significant are the incidents of malnutrition

  20. *** Poverty is the main cause of hunger in the world today (p. 114)*** • Regional disparities will continue to widen into the 21th C. • “World food output will therefore have to double or even triple to meet the needs of LDCs by the turn of the century” [now know that was pessimistic]

  21. “Moreover it seems likely that the real price of food will double by the end of the century and pressure on current food sources will intensify, requiring ever-greater use of costly capital intensive methods to raise productivity” Conventional Sources of Food Supply All terrestrial and marine foodstuffs can trace their existence to insolation stored in green plants … now we are into the food chain movement of this energy … > 99% of world food supply is currently terrestrial, only 0.7% is marine in origin

  22. Agriculture and Grazing Agriculture – tilling crops and raising domesticated animals to produce food, feed and fiber. A principal enterprise of Man throughout recorded history (Jordan, et al.) • Remains by far the most important global economic activity --- employs an estimated 45% of global workforce --- In Asia and Africa as high as 80% of the labor force --- In U.S. less than 2% of the workforce

  23. Currently, only 36% of the world land area is used in food production… 2/3 od this dedicated to permanent pasture… 11% of the world’s land area is for field and orchard crops --- here we enter conflict of intensive (*) vs extensive land use ( **) (*) intensive subsistence (small plot and shifting); mixed farming/truck farming; specialty crops; poultry; feedlot stock (**) plantation agriculture; commercial grain farming; commercial open range ranching

  24. [According to Jordan, et al. the livestock industry (livestock ranching and livestock fattening) occupies the largest spatial extent of the U.S.] - Because of its high quantity and high quality production, North America has been a major food exporter Interesting that Europe never developed the tradition of large-scale commercial agriculture … though its mercantile colonialism history established the tradition almost everywhere the Europeans went

  25. - Many LDC regions have lost the capacity to feed themselves, ultimately being forced to turn to the shrinking numbers of surplus producers --- surplus producers must continue to increase production / output • Two main ways exist for increasing world agricultural output: (1) expanding cultivated area (2) increasing the output per hectare (yield)

  26. Today the idea of significantly expanding the amount of global land under cultivation does not seem feasible … U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates no more than 10% to 20% of potential global cropland will be in use by the end of the present century land not available where it is needed; econ/political/etc. constraints; climatic/physiographic constraints; aridity – 25% of surface is desert / semi-desert