While some research suggests phosphorus supplies could decline to problem levels by 2035, a recent analysis takes a different view. Either way, irregular distribution—one of the themes of my book—will probably impact phosphorus trade and use.
|Phosphate rock ooids from Montana. Photo by Richard Gibson|
The mineral apatite, calcium phosphate, forms phosphate rock. Exactly how these deposits arise is still somewhat questionable, but upwelling ocean currents are thought to allow the chemical precipitation to occur. Other economic phosphate deposits are bird guano; islets off Peru covered with such material contributed to the “Guano War” in the 1860s. Whether demand for phosphate will lead to anything beyond trade wars remains to be seen.