Visualizing All The Non-Renewable Resources We Have Left

We use a lot of materials that we can’t get back once they’re gone. This graphic shows you how long we have to reach peak everything–from oil to phosphorus.

Much ado has been made about the world’s oil reserves, and for good reason–society would quickly spiral out of control if oil supplies began to rapidly decline. But oil is far from the only non-renewable resource that we rely on. This infographic from the BBC shows some of the other non-renewable resources that we use–and how much of them we have left.


As you can see, we’re quickly running out of mineral resources like antimony (used in everything from drugs to flame retardants), indium (used in touch screens and solar panels), silver, copper, and phosphorous (a fertilizer and important plant nutrient). In 12 years, antimony and indium supplies will be threatened. In 76 years, we’ll have to start seriously thinking about how phosphorous shortages will affect the food supply.

Fossil fuels are, as you might expect, also in relatively short supply. Even coal supplies are dwindling–we have enough to take us about 42 years into the future. Ecosystems have a slightly longer timeline, but a cushion of 78 years before the entire Indonesian rainforest is gone isn’t exactly comforting.

Check out the BBC’s references here (PDF).

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.