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The global metabolic transition: Regional patterns and trends of global material flows, 1950-2010.

Schaffartzik A, Mayer A, Gingrich S, Eisenmenger N, Loy C, Krausmann F - Glob Environ Change (2014)

Bottom Line: The expansion of the resource base required by human societies is associated with growing pressure on the environment and infringement on the habitats of other species.In order to achieve a sustainability transition, we require a better understanding of the currently ongoing metabolic transition and its potential inertia.There are, however, no signs yet that this will lead to stabilization or even a reduction of global resource use.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt, Wien, Graz, Austria ; Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt-Wien-Graz, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria.

ABSTRACT

Since the World War II, many economies have transitioned from an agrarian, biomass-based to an industrial, minerals-based metabolic regime. Since 1950, world population grew by factor 2.7 and global material consumption by factor 3.7-71 Gigatonnes per year in 2010. The expansion of the resource base required by human societies is associated with growing pressure on the environment and infringement on the habitats of other species. In order to achieve a sustainability transition, we require a better understanding of the currently ongoing metabolic transition and its potential inertia. In this article, we present a long-term global material flow dataset covering material extraction, trade, and consumption of 177 individual countries between 1950 and 2010. We trace patterns and trends in material flows for six major geographic and economic country groupings and world regions (Western Industrial, the (Former) Soviet Union and its allies, Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa) as well as their contribution to the emergence of a global metabolic profile during a period of rapid industrialization and globalization. Global average material use increased from 5.0 to 10.3 tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) between 1950 and 2010. Regional metabolic rates range from 4.5 t/cap/a in Sub-Saharan Africa to 14.8 t/cap/a in the Western Industrial grouping. While we can observe a stabilization of the industrial metabolic profile composed of relatively equal shares of biomass, fossil energy carriers, and construction minerals, we note differences in the degree to which other regions are gravitating toward a similar form of material use. Since 2000, Asia has overtaken the Western Industrial grouping in terms of its share in global resource use although not in terms of its per capita material consumption. We find that at a sub-global level, the roles of the world regions have changed. There are, however, no signs yet that this will lead to stabilization or even a reduction of global resource use.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Physical trade balance (PTB = imports minus exports) in Gigatonnes per year (Gt/a) by main material groups in columns on the primary vertical axis and PTB in tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) as a line on the secondary vertical axis. In 1950, all trade is classified as other products because no detailed data on material composition are available. Please note that different scales are used on both vertical axes in Fig. 1a–f.
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fig0010: Physical trade balance (PTB = imports minus exports) in Gigatonnes per year (Gt/a) by main material groups in columns on the primary vertical axis and PTB in tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) as a line on the secondary vertical axis. In 1950, all trade is classified as other products because no detailed data on material composition are available. Please note that different scales are used on both vertical axes in Fig. 1a–f.

Mentions: With a share of 44% of the global GDP and 15% of the world population in 2010, this grouping had a higher average per capita income than any other region, surpassing the global average by a factor of over 3 in 2010. Between 1950 and 1970, the countries in this grouping were responsible for almost half of global material use. An impending saturation with industrial stocks (buildings, infrastructures) coupled with intensified industrialization processes in other world regions, especially Asia, caused the Western Industrial share in global material use to decrease to 21% by 2010. Current resource endowment varies across countries: many densely populated European countries and Japan have a long history of industrial development and their domestic resource base, especially for fossil energy carriers and metals, is largely depleted while the sparsely populated new world countries continue to extract large amounts of resources. Located mostly in the temperate zone, with climate favorable to agriculture, most of the Western Industrial countries have a highly productive and intensive agricultural production system and are net global suppliers of biomass (see Fig. 2a). Total domestic extraction (DE, see Fig. 1a) amounted to 13.6 Gt/a in 2010.


The global metabolic transition: Regional patterns and trends of global material flows, 1950-2010.

Schaffartzik A, Mayer A, Gingrich S, Eisenmenger N, Loy C, Krausmann F - Glob Environ Change (2014)

Physical trade balance (PTB = imports minus exports) in Gigatonnes per year (Gt/a) by main material groups in columns on the primary vertical axis and PTB in tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) as a line on the secondary vertical axis. In 1950, all trade is classified as other products because no detailed data on material composition are available. Please note that different scales are used on both vertical axes in Fig. 1a–f.
© Copyright Policy - CC BY-NC-ND
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4375797&req=5

fig0010: Physical trade balance (PTB = imports minus exports) in Gigatonnes per year (Gt/a) by main material groups in columns on the primary vertical axis and PTB in tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) as a line on the secondary vertical axis. In 1950, all trade is classified as other products because no detailed data on material composition are available. Please note that different scales are used on both vertical axes in Fig. 1a–f.
Mentions: With a share of 44% of the global GDP and 15% of the world population in 2010, this grouping had a higher average per capita income than any other region, surpassing the global average by a factor of over 3 in 2010. Between 1950 and 1970, the countries in this grouping were responsible for almost half of global material use. An impending saturation with industrial stocks (buildings, infrastructures) coupled with intensified industrialization processes in other world regions, especially Asia, caused the Western Industrial share in global material use to decrease to 21% by 2010. Current resource endowment varies across countries: many densely populated European countries and Japan have a long history of industrial development and their domestic resource base, especially for fossil energy carriers and metals, is largely depleted while the sparsely populated new world countries continue to extract large amounts of resources. Located mostly in the temperate zone, with climate favorable to agriculture, most of the Western Industrial countries have a highly productive and intensive agricultural production system and are net global suppliers of biomass (see Fig. 2a). Total domestic extraction (DE, see Fig. 1a) amounted to 13.6 Gt/a in 2010.

Bottom Line: The expansion of the resource base required by human societies is associated with growing pressure on the environment and infringement on the habitats of other species.In order to achieve a sustainability transition, we require a better understanding of the currently ongoing metabolic transition and its potential inertia.There are, however, no signs yet that this will lead to stabilization or even a reduction of global resource use.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt, Wien, Graz, Austria ; Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen Adria Universität Klagenfurt-Wien-Graz, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria.

ABSTRACT

Since the World War II, many economies have transitioned from an agrarian, biomass-based to an industrial, minerals-based metabolic regime. Since 1950, world population grew by factor 2.7 and global material consumption by factor 3.7-71 Gigatonnes per year in 2010. The expansion of the resource base required by human societies is associated with growing pressure on the environment and infringement on the habitats of other species. In order to achieve a sustainability transition, we require a better understanding of the currently ongoing metabolic transition and its potential inertia. In this article, we present a long-term global material flow dataset covering material extraction, trade, and consumption of 177 individual countries between 1950 and 2010. We trace patterns and trends in material flows for six major geographic and economic country groupings and world regions (Western Industrial, the (Former) Soviet Union and its allies, Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa) as well as their contribution to the emergence of a global metabolic profile during a period of rapid industrialization and globalization. Global average material use increased from 5.0 to 10.3 tons per capita and year (t/cap/a) between 1950 and 2010. Regional metabolic rates range from 4.5 t/cap/a in Sub-Saharan Africa to 14.8 t/cap/a in the Western Industrial grouping. While we can observe a stabilization of the industrial metabolic profile composed of relatively equal shares of biomass, fossil energy carriers, and construction minerals, we note differences in the degree to which other regions are gravitating toward a similar form of material use. Since 2000, Asia has overtaken the Western Industrial grouping in terms of its share in global resource use although not in terms of its per capita material consumption. We find that at a sub-global level, the roles of the world regions have changed. There are, however, no signs yet that this will lead to stabilization or even a reduction of global resource use.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus