Alice-Marie Archer

DIrector - the Schumacher Institute, The Schumacher Institute

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How is industry preparing for a resource scarce future?

I've been reading about trajectories for resource availability, and the geopolitical context for the extraction of certain nonrenewable natural materials. It has me thinking - wow so how are we preparing for this? Firstly I'm looking for ideas and examples of how industry is preparing for resource scarcity. I found the above TED talks but am surprised that there isn't more out there on this issue! I also want to be better able to gauge the whole issue - so your thoughts are welcomed!

Closing Statement from Alice-Marie Archer

WOW Appreciating the comments!!!

I have some slides to share from a seminar we ran in Bristol on the subject and we are going to keep looking at this - I hope I can put together some sort of literature review and offer it up here too.

Slides -

Eric - I think the slides might be useful for you - the source list is at the end.

Julie Ann - thanks very true - we've created so many convolutions in stuff-money system that I can barely follow the causalities. Capitalism (Edwin) might be better if we didn't keep creating these bizarre bypasses that don't suffer the normal feedbacks.

Edwin - a guy at the seminar (from whence came the slides) talked about how his phone had consumed his computer, calculator and various other devices - I guess that's progress fuelled by capitalism, so in some ways it does work.

Lindsay - I hear you on the energy for one world - that looks amazing - I'll look at this more with the CONVERGE project team as they are all about these fairness building mechanisms - also thinking about Edwin's comment on your capitalism post - did Oil bring the end of slavery then?

Brandur - I'm just starting to look at these types of substitutes - thanks for the heads up!

Matt - yes I'm inclined to agree - so far the lit review shows that industry is more reactive than strategic towards resource shortages.

Thanks all SO MUCH for participating in this conversation!

Alice (alice(at)

  • Jun 3 2011: I'm curious to know where you have been reading about resource availability trajectories. I have been researching a similar topic, in relation to building materials, and have been pondering much the same question. Where will we be getting the needed resources to house a projected global population of 9 billion people in 2050? It can't all come from eco-efficiencies and continual recycling. Any more leads on resource scarcity projections, and as you asked, solutions? thanks, e
  • May 30 2011: Here is part of the problem

    "Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said Sunday that he wants oil prices to drop so that the United States and Europe don't accelerate efforts to wean themselves off his country's supply. In an interview broadcast Sunday on "CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS," the grandson of the founding king of modern Saudi Arabia said the oil price should be somewhere between $70 and $80 a barrel, rather than the current level of over $100 a barrel.

    "We don't want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives," said Talal, who is listed by Forbes as the 26th richest man in the world."
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    May 24 2011: One of our Ted Community, Adriaan Kamp is involved in an amazing initiative on just this subject, Energy for One World, and I am hoping we can bring him to Ted as a Ted Tallk. His project takes a global veiw and frames it as a global allocation problem that depnds upon the over consumers of energy, The U.S. in paricular, out of good global citizenship, to aggressively curb their use of fossil fuels to enable a fair share at a lower price to developing economies. Adriaan. a former exceutive with Shell Oil, I believe, has a unique and hopeful vision for the next three decades that fossil fuels willphase out, notbecause rhey will run our bit because much more efficient, renewable, low cost startgeies will be in place, I have been bowled over by his vision and think you will be too

  • May 24 2011: I'm looking forward to further developments with graphene. It can potentially replace many non environmentally friendly materials.
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      May 25 2011: Actually..capitalism is pretty much all about oil and non renewable resources at the moment..and all of its ingenuity is being appplied to building and maintaining global structures which allow maximum profits with minimum accountability to fundamental human rights .

      The emergence of a global economy in which no one nation..not even the US can fully control the ecenomic conditions that afcet our nation, and the manipulation of that through the IMF and the Wolrd Bank has given capitalism an unfettered safe haven in th e worlds undeveloped and develeoping nations..a safe haven that superdcedes national soverignty by contract ( the terms of debt).. safe haven where mining operations can poison the atmosphere and destroy the landscape without the inconvenience of enviornmental laws, OSHA, workers comp ,minimum wage and labor laws.

      Our present capitalist system is ingenuity focsed only on profit without regard to universal values.

      The challenge before us a global people, as global citizens, is to have capitalism serve the world not exploit it.
  • May 24 2011: I'm not an industry expert, but my feeling is that most companies aren't preparing for it. How long have we known that oil, coal and gas will run out in the near future and yet we're still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. I imagine a lot of CEOs think "the market" will supply more when needed. The EU WEEE directive is an important step in the right direction and I suspect for rare metals etc. recycling will be ever important, although I wonder if the additional costs have been considered.