GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 226-10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


HALL, Josephine I., University of Arkansas, Deptartment of Geosciences, 216 Gearhart Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701 and BOSS, Stephen K., University of Arkansas, Department of Geosciences, 216 Gearhart Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701

The Human Natural Resource Endowment (HNRE) calculates per capita resource allocation as a measure of the impact of natural resource exploitation and world population on future resource availability. HNRE is calculated by subtracting annual production from the ultimately recoverable reserve (URR) of a specific resource, and then dividing that quantity by yearly world population. USGS Historical Statistics for Mineral and Material Commodities data were used to document production and estimate ultimately recoverable reserves (URR) of 25 non-metallic industrial minerals from 1900-2015. Thus, we document the historic trend of HNRE over the most industrialized 115 years of human history. From 1900 to 2015, the annual rate of production of non-metallic industrial minerals increased exponentially at a growth rate of 5.1% per year. The observed growth rate of production corresponds to a doubling time of approximately 13.7 years and indicates world production of non-metallic industrial minerals doubled more than eight times since 1900. Despite exponentially growing production of non-metallic industrial minerals, the historic trend of HNRE declined linearly throughout the past 115 years because global population also increased exponentially as resource reserves were consumed. Extrapolating the linear trendline for HNRE to zero provides an estimate of the date of resource exhaustion and indicates the remaining expected lifetime of these minerals assuming current production and population growth rates continue. The calculated HNRE (i.e. the per capita allotment) of non-metallic industrial minerals reaches zero in 2028. As HNRE depends critically on somewhat uncertain URR estimates, additional modeling was conducted to determine the sensitivity of HNRE to varying URR estimates. Scenarios using 2-10x URR showed little variation in expected resource lifetime, with HNRE trendlines reaching zero between 2028 and 2030 depending on URR starting quantity. Thus, global quantities of non-metallic industrial minerals are expected to become critical during the next decade. With concern over the sustainability of non-renewable resources rising in modern society, HNRE provides a novel, scalable metric to aid understanding of abundance, availability, and allocation of natural resources.