The earth's raw materials consist of the infinite, the finite renewable, and the finite nonrenewable. Infinite resources, such as air and water, pose no immediate problem, although some groups see a long-run danger. Environmental groups have lobbied for a ban on certain propellants used in aerosol cans because of the potential damage they can cause to the ozone layer. Water shortages and pollution are already major problems in some parts of the world. Scanning the
Finite renewable resources, such as forests and food, must be used wisely. Forestry Marketing companies are required to reforest timberlands in order to protect the soil and to en- Environment sure sufficient wood to meet future demand. Because the amount of arable land is fixed and urban areas are constantly encroaching on farmland, food supply can also be a major problem. Finite nonrenewable resources—oil, coal, platinum, zinc, silver— will pose a serious problem as the point of depletion approaches. Firms making products that require these increasingly scarce minerals face substantial cost increases. They may not find it easy to pass these cost increases on to customers. Firms engaged in research and development have an excellent opportunity to develop substitute materials.
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