The increasing scarcity of resources

From ScenarioThinking
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Scarcity is the problem of infinite human needs and wants, in a world of finite resources. Resources of all kinds are scarce. In turn the market price rises rapidly to reflect this increased scarcity. The mobile industry like any other industry will find that it will become more important to compete on the global market place for the same resources needed for their various products.

Throughout the production process various resources are being used to construct and assembly the products. It’s impossible to list all the resources necessary for the production process and it’s further being complicated by the manufacturers because the process differs from one to another. However below are couple of resources that are generic and applicable for each manufacturer:

Water , used in the production processes, such as for cooling systems.
Petroleum , raw material for many chemical products e.g. plastics.
Energy , used for fabrication of the product.


  • Government

Since 1995, the European Union has been discussing a draft directive on take-backs for electronics. It prohibits the use of certain toxins--mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and brominated flame retardants--in electrical goods by 2004. With the banning of certain toxins the available pool of resources for the mobile industry becomes smaller and the industry will have to search for other suitable alternatives. These alternatives will have to be shared seeing that the mobile industry is not the only one affected by there measures.

  • Human population

The past two centuries have seen unprecedented growth in human population and economic well being for a good portion of the world. This growth has been fed by equally unprecedented natural resource consumption and environmental impacts, including conversion of large portions of the natural world to human use, which have prompted recurring concern about whether the world’s natural resource base is capable of sustaining such growth. Furthermore the desire for a higher living standard in the developing world places additional demands on natural resource commodities.

As of May 2008, the world's population is believed to be just over 6.6 billion. In line with population projections, this figure continues to grow at rates that were unprecedented before the 20th century. The world's population, on its current growth trajectory, is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2050.

Population (in millions)17501800185019001950199920502150


  • Human Creativity

While exponential growth can be expected to lead to increasing resource scarcity, human creativity can ameliorate increased scarcity. Humans have been quite adept at finding solutions to the problem of scarce natural resources: finding more abundant substitutes for various natural resources, exploration for and discovery of new reserves, recovery and recycling of materials, and, perhaps most importantly, the development of new technologies that economize on scarce natural resources or that allow the use of resources that were previously uneconomical.

  • Recession

A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough. Although during a recession production and use of natural resources is diminished, they are still being allocated. However the strain on natural resources is for the time being alleviated.

  • Recycling

Processing of waste (such as paper, glass, and some metals and plastics) so that the materials can be reused. This saves expenditure on scarce raw materials, slows down the depletion of non-renewable resources, and helps to reduce pollution. E.g. metals are virtually unique among materials because they can be recycled indefinitely without losing their inherent properties. These special properties allow metals to be melted down and re-pressed without loss of quality.

In 1998, over 112 million pounds of materials were recovered from electronics, including steel, glass, and plastic, as well as precious metals. Reusing and recycling the raw materials can ameliorate scarcity because the available pool of resources will be enlarged.


  • Adaptation

Population and economic growth into the next century will greatly increase the demand for natural resource commodities. Even though population growth has slowed, a population of six billion growing at 1% adds the same number of people as three billion people growing at 2%. The historical success of adaptation to increased demand for these commodities is by no means a guarantee of future success.

  • Recycling

Resource conservation, reuse and recycling are important parts toward sustainability. Recycling requires far less energy, uses fewer natural resources, and keeps waste from piling up in landfills.


In the course of the twentieth century technological change has driven an enormous increase in the production of goods and services. The annual output of the world economy has grown from $31 trillion in 1990 to $42 trillion in 2000; in 1950, total world output was $6.3 trillion. The ever increasing output of goods and services will fuel the scarcity of resources.

Breakthrough Approaches

By using different materials/resources that are renewable or can be recycled, scarcity can be ameliorated in respect to existing and used materials/resources today because the available pool of resources will be enlarged.

Web Resources

Go back to Next_generation_mobile_devices_2015