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Commodity Markets Waking to Resource Depletion
Jeremy Faludi, 9 Mar 05

Bloomberg reports that even financiers and hedge-fund analysts are waking up to resource scarcity: "Commodity prices surged to a 24-year high, led by gains in copper and crude oil, on concern that global economic growth is eroding inventories of raw materials faster than supplies can be replenished." And speaking about oil prices they quote a Citigroup analyst who said "OPEC is pretty powerless to lower prices. If OPEC boosts output the bulls will say that there will be less spare capacity."

The good news is, higher prices means conservation and alternatives become more attractive. (And if you saw this coming, as you should've, you could be making lots of money in commodities right now.)

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Comments

Two things,
1)You might be interested in this article from Slate titled "Green as a neo-con". http://slate.msn.com/id/2112608/

2)It's nice that the market is noticing that resource scarcity is real (duh), but I worried that they will end up doing something even more insane. The entire market is based on so many externalized costs that I'm not sure meaningful conservation will result from higher costs. I'm guessing they will move towards lowering the costs of something else long before they are willing to get real about resource conservation.


Posted by: Jeremy on 9 Mar 05

Two things,
1)You might be interested in this article from Slate titled "Green as a neo-con". http://slate.msn.com/id/2112608/

2)It's nice that the market is noticing that resource scarcity is real (duh), but I worried that they will end up doing something even more insane. The entire market is based on so many externalized costs that I'm not sure meaningful conservation will result from higher costs. I'm guessing they will move towards lowering the costs of something else long before they are willing to get real about resource conservation.


Posted by: Jeremy on 9 Mar 05

damn, sorry for the duplicate comment. MT threw a error and I refreshed (shift-reload) and the comment was posted again.


Posted by: Jeremy on 9 Mar 05

"And if you saw this coming, as you should've, you could be making lots of money in commodities right now."
but of course, if you had the cash already to invest in commodities trading and financial speculation.
i would not necessarily be so quick to label higher commodity prices for basic resources as *unqualified* good news. until conservation-based system changes and/or alternatives trickle down through the social infrastructure, higher prices will likely mean deeper poverty for many low-income people around the world. this is part of why it is so essential for change to occur bottom-up as well as top-down. :-)


Posted by: katuah on 9 Mar 05

I was just thinking of this: Africa has lots of land that can still be cultivated, say, for biodiesel crops.
If the high oil prices are here to stay (seems like it), and a profit can be made by cropping for fuels in Africa, then I don't see why big investors won't jump in. And rest assured, the Oil Barons of the past, will be the Biodiesel Barons of the future.
Unless people elect more Chavez-like leaders.


Posted by: Lorenzo on 9 Mar 05

I'm not so sure Africa has all that much land waiting to be cultivated - the population density in fertile, well watered parts of Africa is pretty high.

A few writers have considered the idea of growing crops for biodiesel in Africa and are against it on the basis that it is likely that food crops would be rotated out in favour of biodiesel feedstock - with nasty consequences for the local population.

George Monbiot - Feeding Cars Not People : http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2004/11/23/feeding-cars-not-people/

Biodiesel Boom Raises Ethical Issues : http://www.energybulletin.net/4653.html



Posted by: Big Gav on 10 Mar 05

Sure, I know these articles. Monbiot's makes a few good points, but it is not well researched. There are quite a few non-edible oil crops that can be grown on poor soils, without competing with food-crops. I'm thinking of jatropha curcas here. Of course, jatropha will never provide gigabarrels of oil. But there's a positive reciprocity between jatropha cultivation and local communities' farming practises (in fact they have been using it for ages). Jatropha combats soil erosion, desertification, it protects fields against predators, and its byproducts can be used to make organic fertilizer and pesticides; soap is another byproduct (much needed in those places), and the plant has many locally recognized medicinal properties.
Of course, jatropha cultivation would require a distributed approach, and not a mega-plantation model.


Posted by: Lorenzo on 10 Mar 05



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