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Inventuren der Erde. Vorratsschätzungen für mineralische Rohstoffe und die Etablierung der Ressourcenökonomie


Inventories of the Earth. Mineral Resource Appraisals and the Rise of Resource Economics. How do the earth sciences mediate between the natural and social world? This paper explores the question by focusing on the history of nonfuel mineral resource appraisal from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. It argues that earth sciences early on embraced social scientific knowledge, i. e. economic knowledge, in particular, when it came to determining ore deposits and estimating the magnitude of mineral reserves. After 1900, assessing national and global mineral reserves and their “life span” or years of supply became ever more important, scaling up and complementing traditional appraisal practices on the level of individual mines or mining and trading companies. As a consequence, economic methods gained new weight for mineral resource estimation. Natural resource economics as an own field of research grew out of these efforts. By way of example, the mineral resource appraisal assigned to the U.S. Materials Policy Commission by President Harry S. Truman in 1951 is analyzed in more detail. Natural resource economics and environmental economics might be interpreted as a strategy to bring down the vast and holistically conceived object of geological and ecological research, the earth, to human scale, and assimilate it into social matters.

Autoren:   Andrea Westermann
Journal:   Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Band:   37
Ausgabe:   1
Jahrgang:   2014
Seiten:   20
DOI:   10.1002/bewi.201401665
Erscheinungsdatum:   14.03.2014
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