2011 June 18 Saturday
Nauru: What Happens When Resources Run Out

CNN iReporter Johnny Colt visits the island of Nauru and finds a very small country that has fallen far into poverty now that most of its phosphate has been mined.

Not long ago, Nauru was one of the wealthiest nations on Earth: The phosphate mines, before they dried up, gave the nation the second-highest per-capita GDP in the world. But today, 90% of its residents are unemployed and the nation's economy sags under enormous debt. The phosphate mineral money that brought Ferraris to the island in the 1970s and '80s has dried up, leaving all those sports cars to rust. Today, most Nauruans live on about 90 to 100 Australian dollars a week.

Fortunately, America's decline will not be that sharp. But as world mineral resources become more expensive to extract and as water, farmland, and other resources get divided over a growing population we will have to live on less per person. Only ways to produce really cheap energy can save us from this fate.

How fast will resource limitations cause living standards declines? Hard to tell but some indications are worrisome.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 June 18 01:13 PM  Economics Living Standards

Mirco Romanato said at June 30, 2011 1:57 PM:

How fast will resource limitations cause living standards declines?
Natural resource limitation rarely cause a real drop of standard of living.
Artificial resource limitations often cause a rapid fall in the standard of living.

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