Scientific American has done a great summary of peak commodity levels as well as depletion projections for some of the most critical resources in the world including oil, gold, silver copper, not to mention renewable water, as well as estimating general food prices over the next half century. Generally speaking, regardless of whether one believes in peak oil or not, the facts are that stores of natural resources are disappearing at an increasingly alarming pace. And instead of the world's (formerly) richest country sponsoring R&D and basic science to find alternatives, the US government continues to focus on funding a lost Keynesian cause, debasing the dollar and perpetuating a system that will do nothing to resolve any of these ever more pressing concerns. Furthermore, as by 2020, the US will have around $23 trillion in debt (per CBO estimates), the government will be far too focused on using anywhere between 50-100% of tax revenues to cover just interest expense, than funding science and research. Then again it is probably only fitting that future generations will be saddled with not just $100 trillion in total sovereign debt, but will be running out of water, will see sea levels rising ever faster, will have no flat screen TVs, and will be using Flintstonemobiles to go from point A to point B. All so a few bankers and ultra-wealthy individuals don't have to recognize total losses on their balance sheets filled with trillions in toxic debt.
Some key highlights from Scientific American, as well as the year in which a given resource either peaks or runs out:
Oil - 2014 Peak
The most common answer to "how much oil is left" is "depends on how hard you want to look." As easy-to-reach fields run dry, new technologies allow oil companies to tap harder-to-reach places (such as 5,500 meters under the Gulf of Mexico). Traditional statistical models of oil supply do not account for these advances, but a new approach to production forecasting explicitly incorporates multiple waves of technological improvement. Though still controversial, this multi-cyclic approach predicts that global oil production is set to peak in four years and that by the 2050s we will have pulled all but 10% of the world's oil from the ground.
In many parts of the world, one major river supplies water to multiple countries. Climate change, pollution and population growth are putting a significant strain on supplies. In some areas renewable water reserves are in danger of dropping below the 500 cubic meters per person per year considered a minimum for a functioning society.
Indium - 2028
Silver - 2029
Gold - 2030
Copper - 2044
Coal - 2072
Food Prices over next 40 years
Researchers have recently started to untangle the complex ways rising temperatures will affect global agriculture. The expect climate change to lead to longer growing seasons in some countries; in others the heat will increase the frequency of extreme weather events or the prevalence of pests. In the US, productivity is expected to rise in Plains states, but fall further in the already struggling Southwest. Russia and China will gain, India and Mexico will lose. In general, developing nations will take the biggest hits. By 2050 counteracting the ill effects of climate change on nutrition will cost more than $7 billion a year.
Full interactive analysis on resource depletion: