Doubled raw materials use is climate risk

Doubled raw materials use is climate risk

SOURCE: Physics World DATE: October 26, 2018 SNIP: Just when you might think the world has heard an unmistakable warning of the need to curb climate change drastically and fast, along comes another warning, about humans’ voracious appetite for the raw materials we use so profligately. Its message is simple: one of the main causes of the Earth’s growing warmth is likely to be twice as severe 40 years from now as it is today. This latest warning, from the club of the world’s richest countries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says consumption of raw materials is on course to nearly double by 2060 as the global economy expands and living standards rise. And that will mean a steep increase in emissions of the greenhouse gases which drive global warming. Total emissions are projected to reach 75 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq.) by 2060, of which materials management would constitute about 50 Gt CO2-eq. The main sort of “stuff” it’s talking about includes the building blocks of the modern world: sand, gravel and crushed rock. Metals are next, and third is coal. The full OECD report, the Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 (preview) expects global materials use to rise from 90 gigatonnes (GT) today to 167 GT in 2060, because of the increase in world population to 10 billion people expected by then, and the rise in average global income per capita to converge with the current OECD level of US$40,000 (€34,900). The projected figures are immense. But so are those that quantify today’s hunger for materials. Scientists calculate, for instance, that the...