"How big is your pile? Imagine a truck delivering to your house each morning all the materials you use in a day, except food and fuel. Piled at the front door are the wood in your newspaper, the chemicals in your shampoo, and the plastic in your grocery bags. A day’s portion of the metal in your appliances and car, plus your daily fraction of shared materials, such as the stone and gravel in your office walls and in the streets you stroll. At the base of the pile are materials you never see, including the nitrogen and potash used to grow your food, and the earth and rock under which your metals and minerals were once buried.„ (Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC).
Raw material demand trends
The global consumption of key raw materials is rising fast. Over the 20-year period ending in 1994, the world population increased by 40% – in that same period, the world consumption of cement increased by 77%, and plastics by just under 200%… Among raw materials used for construction, only crude steel registered a growth rate that was significantly lower (only 3% from 1974 to 1994) than the rate of population increase. (University of Minnesota, 1999).
Raw material consumption facts
A small minority of rich countries are responsible for a large part of the raw material consumption. All together the developed countries comprise only 22% of the world population, but they consume more than 60% of the industrial raw materials.
Will nature be able to supply all services that human beings need?
The Ecological Footprint measures the amount of productive land area needed to support a nation’s consumption and waste. This indicator shows that in many countries, as well as for the planet as a whole, the demand for natural resources, or the “ecological capacity”, exceeds the amount available. Countries that are not able to support their national consumption with their own natural resources are running at an “ecological deficit”. Therefore these countries have to either import ecological capacity from other places, or take it from future generations.