Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres
Chapter 29: Long-term world metal use: application of industrial ecology in a system dynamics model
Detlef P. van Vuuren, Bart J. Strengers and Bert J. M. de Vries* Over the last century, the exploitation of material resources has grown enormously. Currently, western economies use about 20 to 40 metric tons of raw materials per person per year (Adriaanse et al. 1997). While high material consumption rates certainly have contributed to the high living standards in large parts of the world, their enormous throughput has also raised questions with regard to the sustainability of current use. Especially during the energy crises in the 1970s, several authors have pointed out the risks of depleting reserves of high-grade resources; predictions were made that the world would run out of some raw materials in 50 years (for example, Meadows et al. 1972). At the moment, attention seems to have shifted to the question of whether ore grade depletion might aggravate the environmental problems associated with metal production (Tilton 1996). Clearly, exploitation of raw materials requires a sizeable amount of global capital and energy inputs and causes diﬀerent sorts of environmental problems in mining, transport and upgrading. In addition, virtually all materials ultimately return to the environment, creating ﬂuxes of substances that are potentially harmful to the environment. Industrial ecology intends to introduce integrated responses to this type of problem. System dynamics models form one of the tools that contribute to this. In this chapter, we will focus on a system dynamics model for an important type of material use, that is, metals. Earlier, production and consumption of metals...
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