Air, water and the 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 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 recycling process which is becoming increasingly automated.