Governments need to spark a lightweight revolution in the way things are made so the world can keep up with the demand for resources, say scientists.
They say homes will have to be built with less cement; cars with less steel; and gadgets with less plastic.
And it will need to be done in a way that radically cuts emissions from producing the materials, they add.
These are among the conclusions presented in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, and reported by the BBC.
Several papers in the journal tackle the dual problem created by the increased demand for goods as people grow richer and population increase, coupled with the threat of climate change.
One paper warns that unless demand for materials from UK primary industry is reduced, Britain will need the equivalent of a four-fold increase in nuclear power or a 40-fold increase in wind power to meet its target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 from pre-industrial levels.
The paper, by UK government chief energy scientist Prof David MacKay, says readers can draw their own conclusions as to whether it is feasible to generate this amount of clean energy.
Another author, Julian Allwood, from Cambridge University, has been studying the five most energy-intensive sectors: steel, aluminium, cement, plastics and paper.
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