Les ressources naturelles de plus en plus chères

Force est de constater la raréfaction des ressources naturelles dans le monde. Les prix du pétrole et du gaz naturel flambent. Les prix des produits alimentaires atteignent également des sommets, infligeant des privations supplémentaires à ceux qui souffrent déjà de la pauvreté et créant des écarts de revenus considérables entre pays et entre zones rurales et urbaines.

Une forte croissance économique, principalement en Chine et en Inde, est la principale raison de l’augmentation des prix des ressources naturelles. Ces deux pays sont devenus producteurs de biens et de services, compétitifs au plan mondial, et leurs économies, déj_4à conséquentes, doublent en taille tous les 7-10 ans. Cette croissance se heurte toutefois aux limites de la disponibilité en terres, en bois, en pétrole et gaz, en eau et autres produits naturels. Quand les ressources naturelles sont échangées sur les marchés (les produits énergétiques et alimentaires), les prix s’envolent. Lorsqu’elles ne sont pas commercialisées (comme l’air), le résultat est la pollution et l’épuisement des réserves mondiales plutôt que l’augmentation des prix.

La flambée des prix des produits alimentaires est alarmante. Un indice (en dollars) montre une augmentation d’environ 40 pour cent au cours des 12 derniers mois. Plusieurs facteurs expliquent cette hausse, mais le premier est une augmentation de la consommation, à nouveau lié à la croissance économique chinoise. La population chinoise mange davantage, et en particulier davantage de viande, ce qui nécessite l’importation de plus grandes quantités d’aliments pour animaux, principalement composés de soja et de maïs. Il est peu probable que la Chine puisse elle-même satisfaire l’accroissement de la demande, étant donné la carence en terres et en eau du pays.

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