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|−|== Material == |+|
|−|[[Image:Air sea and land.jpg|right|100px|Atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere (a.k.a. air, sea and land)]] |+|
|−|[[Most abundant elements on Earth#Constituent elements of air|Air]], [[Most abundant elements on Earth#Constituent elements of air|water]] and the [[Most abundant elements on Earth# Twenty most abundant elements in Earth's crust|twenty most abundant elements in the earth's crust]] give us most of the raw material needed to create all the machines and goods that mankind requires, such as: |+|
|−|*Buildings and construction materials |+|
|−|*Cars, trains and aircraft |+|
|−|*Industrial machinery |+|
|−|*Computers and electronic products |+|
|−|*Food and drinking water |+|
|−|These reserves of material are not going to run out - processing and using up the entire [[w:Lithosphere|earth's crust]] would be quite a challenge for even the most wasteful societies. Of course we are not advocating wasteful processes just because material is plentiful; one aspect of technological progress is the increasing efficiency of design and manufacturing - [[doing more with less]]. |+|
|−|It should be noted that there are small amounts of other elements required for manufacturing and agriculture, but generally only correspondingly small amounts of these substances are required. |+|
|−|Also recycling should soon become far more widespread than it is now, further reducing the burden of having to process new material for creating goods and infrastructure. Product design and engineering will become increasingly sympathetic to the [[Automated recycling processes| recycling process]] which is becoming increasingly automated. |+|
Latest revision as of 21:58, 26 July 2007
Air, water and the twenty most abundant elements in the Earth's crust provide almost all the material needed to create the multitude of machines and goods that mankind requires: food, drugs, houses, vehicles, robots, industrial machinery, computers, consumer goods and so on.
Extracting these plentiful elements (and their compounds) to create useful material essentially involves energy (which is also plentiful) and the right processing methods. From a technical point of view there is practically no limit to the volume of material we could extract and make use of, if we so wished, even while minimally disrupting complex and fragile ecosystems. The reserves of raw materials needed to sustain civilisation are simply not going to run out, because the entire Earth's crust is made up of them. However this is no excuse to be unnecessarily wasteful in our consumption. Advanced recycling will reduce the need to extract material from the ground and more efficient design will allow us to do more with less .
The point is that any existing material scarcity actually has little to do with the reserves at our disposal.