... We like to think that the reason we enjoy our high standards of living is because we have been so clever at figuring out how to use the world's available resources. But we should not dismiss the possibility that there may also have been a nontrivial contribution of simply having been quite lucky to have found an incredibly valuable raw material that for a century and a half or so was relatively easy to obtain. Optimists may expect the next century and a half to look like the last. Benes and coauthors are suggesting that instead we should perhaps expect the next decade to look like the last.
Peak oil and price incentives (Econbrowser):
China has warned that the decline in its rare earth reserves in major mining areas is "accelerating", as most of the original resources are depleted. In a policy paper, China's cabinet blamed excessive exploitation and illegal mining for the decline. China accounts for more than 90% of the world's rare earth supplies, but has just 23% of global reserves. It has urged those with reserves to boost production of the elements, which are used to make electrical goods. "After more than 50 years of excessive mining, China's rare earth reserves have kept declining and the years of guaranteed rare earth supply have been reducing," China's cabinet said in the paper on the rare earth industry published by the official Xinhua news agency.
China warns its rare earth reserves are declining (BBC):
"It really will be a new world, biologically, at that point," warns Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a review paper appearing in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature. "The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations."
Evidence of Impending Tipping Point for Earth (Science Daily):