There is a concern that shortages of energy, materials, food and water will halt global growth, but it has been claimed by the book 'Resource revolution: how to capture the biggest business opportunity in a century' that innovations will be able to unlock a new phase of global economic growth. The book, which was co-authored by Stefan Heck, consulting professor at Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and Matt Rogers, director at consultancy McKinsey & Company, illustrated its argument by pointing to the recent development of unconventional gas, and now unconventional oil in the US: “This was something that no one saw coming.”

Two massive markets – natural gas and solar energy – are growing at 20% per year, and the book emphasised the benefit that these would have on the productivity of the economy as a whole.

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“The bringing together of information technology with industrial technology, the application of biological technologies to resource problems, the use of new materials and nanoscale science to these industrial and resource productivity challenges all of a sudden enables us to capture the kind of productivity growth that we need, and more so, that we can grow the economy while not actually increasing the demand for resources nearly as significantly, or while making the production of resources much cheaper than anyone expects,” Mr Rogers wrote.

“Managers need to be prepared,” the book said. Companies need to be able to substitute materials very fast to avoid high-risk materials and capture the much lower-risk ones. “You have to create these kinds of circular chains where you can recycle a lot of the material that you produce so that it doesn’t cost you nearly as much.”