BBC Future

Global resources stock check

If we fail to correct current consumption trends, then when will our most valuable natural resources run out?

As the world’s population soars, so does its consumption, and as a result we are stretching many of our natural resources to their limits.

Of course, the assumption is that human ingenuity and market forces will prevent supplies from running out: we could create better or cheaper extraction methods, recycle materials, find alternatives to non-renewable sources, or reduce consumption.

The hope is that talks at the Rio+20 Earth summit will help to steer the world economy on a more sustainable path. But the clock is already ticking, and if the unthinkable happens and we fail to correct current trends, then when can we expect our most valuable resources to run out?

If you want to see the data we used to construct this infographic, you can find it here [PDF]. (Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader, download the reader here)

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30 Aug 2012: This graphic uses the terms resources and reserves interchangeably. However, in the case of minerals the graphic refers specifically to known reserves.