1st Edition

On Borrowed Time
Assessing the Threat of Mineral Depletion

ISBN 9781891853579
Published November 20, 2002 by Routledge
158 Pages

USD $43.95

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Book Description

The sharp rise in mineral use has revived concern about scarcity. Economist John Tilton responds by analyzing recent trends in the consumption and availability of minerals that are most integral to the needs of modern civilization. He reminds readers that, if the arguments about scarcity sound familiar, it is because the story of minerals scarcity is almost as old as human history-and so too is substitution and technological innovation. The issue at hand is the unprecedented acceleration in exploitation and use. Given global population growth, rising living standards, and environmental concerns, how seriously should today‘s society take the threat of mineral exhaustion? On Borrowed Time? provides general interest and student readers with an accessible framework for understanding scarcity. Tilton defines important concepts and explores the methods used to study mineral scarcity, including physical measures of known reserves and the total resource base, and economic measures, such as extraction and end-user costs. He notes the increasing emphasis on the social and environmental costs of mineral production and use, placing the scarcity debate in context of broader concerns about sustainability and equity. He adds a history of thought about scarcity, from Malthus and Ricardo to Harold Hotelling, Donella Meadows, to the present day.

Table of Contents

Preface 1. The Road Ahead 2. Evolving Concerns 3. Imperfect Measures 4. The Benevolent Past 5. The Uncertain Future 6. The Environment and Social Costs 7. Findings and Implications Appendix. Real Prices for Selected Mineral Commodities, 1870-1997 by Peter Howie Glossary

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John E. Tilton is William J. Coulter Professor of Mineral Economics at the Colorado School of Mines. His other books include World Metal Demand: Trends and Prospects and Mining and the Environment.


'Succeeds in simplifying the myriad of complex issues bearing on the exhaustibility question posed for all minerals including oil and gas. . . .Provides a good overview for the layman of resource economics right back to Malthus.' The Journal of Energy Literature '[This book] should be required reading for all interested in resource depletion issues.' International Energy Law & Taxation Review 'Inspiring . . . gives an excellent and clear review of the debate. . . . I strongly recommend this book to practitioners, academics, and policymakers concerned with how we should deal with non-renewable resources in the future.' Minerals & Energy 'John Tilton‘s aim . . . is to provide a concise primer on the long-run availability of mineral resources for those who are not resource economists or specialists in related fields. He achieves this objective admirably with a logical exposition that blends historical, theoretical, and empirical elements of the ongoing debate together in an appealing way.' Journal of Energy and Development