Critical Resource Sustainability
By Mark Ciotola
First published on April 20, 2019
Such are called critical resourcesare scarce resources whose availability limits the entire production of a system.
It has been known for about 100 years the human society has been using up critical resources that are non-renewable resources (irreplaceable). The energy from petroleum might be replaced by solar and wind power, but metals, ground water, rare earths and phosphorus do not have ready substitutes.
A group called the Technical Alliance began discussing such in the early 1920s. Technocracy, Inc., a successor group pointed out these issues in the 1930s. In the 1970s, a Club of Rome study Limits to Growth (1972) used modern computing technologies (system dynamics) to model such resource exhaustion and its implications.
When people use the term sustainability, they are often mean the exhaustion of critical resources and its impact upon the sustainability of human society.