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Metal Minerals Scarcity: A Call For Managed Austerity and the Elements of Hope

10 March 2009

 If we keep following the ruling paradigm of sustained global economic growth, we will soon run out of cheap and plentiful metal minerals of most types. Their extraction rates will no longer follow demand. The looming metal minerals crisis is being caused primarily by the unfolding energy crisis. Conventional mitigation strategies including recycling and
substitution are necessary but insufficient without a different way of managing our world’s
resources. The stakes are too high to gamble on timely and adequate future technological
breakthroughs to solve our problems. The precautionary principle urges us to take immediate action to prevent or at least postpone future shortages. As soon as possible we should impose a co-ordinated policy of managed austerity, not only to address metal minerals shortages but other interrelated resource constraints (energy, water, food) as well. The framework of managed austerity enables a transition towards application (wherever possible) of the ‘elements of hope’: the most abundant metal (and non-metal) elements. In this way we can save the many critical metal elements for essential applications where complete substitution with the elements of hope is not viable. We call for a transition from growth in tangible possessions and instant, short-lived luxuries towards growth in consciousness, meaning and sense of purpose, connection with nature and reality and good stewardship for the sake of next generations.

Experts on this report

Deputy Director, Market and Operations

Michel Rademaker

Michel Rademaker is a senior policy analyst and deputy director of HCSS. He has a degree in Transport and Logistics, obtained at the University of Tilburg.

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