As global citizens, we must all face the fact there’s an unprecedented crisis when it comes to resource depletion. And it’s not just some resources that are affected, it’s everything – including oil and coal, clean water, and life-supporting land.
The Earth houses approximately 32 billion acres of land. Of that, 11% (or 3.5 billion acres) is livable and suitable to grow crops. The other 89% – including mountains and deserts – is prohibitively more difficult to mine and farm.
And although the earth is 70% water, less than 1% is fresh water that is accessible and life-sustaining for drinking and sanitation. In fact, approximately 884 million people around the world lack fresh water – and that figure is expected to increase to 3.5 billion by 2040.
Meanwhile, we are expected to consume 92 million barrels of oil a day this year, while still living off oil discoveries that date as far back as the 1950s. Plus, environmental concerns about fracking and shale gas (especially their effects on our water supply) are quickly limiting any promise for fuel alternatives.
The demand for more products and services is not slowing down either. The world population continues to grow exponentially from 7 billion today to over 9 billion by 2040. And as the population grows, so does global wealth. In fact, 3 billion people are expected to join the ranks of the middle class by 2030.
If population growth and increasing wealth aren’t enough, the trend towards greater urbanization will put even greater strain on natural resources. The number of urban dwellers is expected to rise from 3.6 billion today to 6.3 billion by 2050 – further increasing demand for better-quality food and modern conveniences.
As the delicate balance between rising resource demand and falling commodity supplies continues to widen, commodity prices continue to rise while worker wages stay relatively flat (and for many, continue to decline) – hurting living standards and the ability to survive on just the basics (food, water, clothing, and shelter). Plus, the risk of war and conflict will increase exponentially as disputes over access to scarce resources escalates the intensity of shaky political relationships.
Both demand-side and supply-side initiatives are being used to curb consumption. For example, consumers are taking advantage of incentives that reward behaviors such as conserving energy, innovating ways to become more efficient, and recycling highly desirable resources. In addition, subsidies are altering the supply-demand equilibrium by encouraging companies to increase R&D investments and efforts to find new manufacturing alternatives.
What do you think? Can more be done? Click on this infographic to learn more about the role of resource optimization in the future of business:
For more stats on the Future of Business, see 99 Facts on The Future of Business.
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