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Unformatted text preview: t. For example, if we are talking about a form of
environmental capital such as a renewable resource (Table 1.4), society usually begins in a state where the rate
of consumption is less than the rate of replenishment (category 3). Eventually, the population becomes so large
that humans reach a steady state and consume the resource at the same rate they produce it (category 2). In
this state – the optimal one, as it allows the greatest number of people to live sustainably - supply and demand
are in equilibrium because they are equal. If the time rates of change of supply and demand are not equal, this
state will be temporary. For example, if the population and the rate of resource consumption continue to
increase, and if the rate of replenishment (which is usually constant) cannot keep up with increasing
consumption, the system will become unsustainable, leading to environmental degradation, loss of
environmental capital, and resource shortages (category 1). We’ll show later that humanity began using
renewable resources faster than they could be replenished beginning in the 1970’s, an...
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- Fall '14