This Country Has Something Everyone Else Wants

Thanks to the University of Minnesota for sponsoring this video!
Morocco has 3/4 of the world’s known reserves of rock phosphate, our main source of phosphorus, so Morocco may be key to our long-term ability to grow food. Note: At the time of publishing, the United Nations does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, instead identifying it as a “non-self-governing territory”

Thanks also to our Patreon patrons and our YouTube members.

To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Phosphorus – a chemical element used in explosives, matches, and fertilizers (as it is a key nutrient for plant growth)
Phosphate rock – a sedimentary rock containing high amounts of phosphate minerals – the main source of agricultural P fertilizer
Phosphate – a salt or ester of phosphoric acid, containing PO4 -3 or a related anion or a group
4 Rs of Nutrient Management – Right fertilizer source, at the Right rate, at the Right time, and in the Right place
Reserve – the part of a resource that could be economically extracted or produced at the moment
Resource – a concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid, or gaseous material in or on the Earth’s crust in such form and amount that economic extraction of a commodity from the concentration is currently or potentially feasible

If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
Article about conflict in Western Sahara –
Radio about Phosphorus mines in Western Sahara –
Magazine about 350th Anniv of Phosphorus Discovery –

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer & Narrator: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Jessika Raisor (@jessika_arts)
Video Director: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg, Julián Gómez, Sarah Berman, Arcadi Garcia Rius
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:
Amundson, R., et al 2015. Soil and human security in the 21st century. Science, 348(6235), 1261071.

Bailey, J. Pers. comm. Feb 2019

Chowdhury, R. B., et al. 2017. Key sustainability challenges for the global phosphorus resource, their implications for global food security, and options for mitigation. J. of Cleaner Prod., 140, 945-963.

CIA. The World Factbook. Country Comparison: Crude Oil – Proved Reserves. Accessed Jan 2019.

Cooper, J., et al. 2011. The future distribution and production of global phosphate rock reserves. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 57, 78-86.

Cordell, D., et al. 2009. The story of phosphorus: global food security and food for thought. Global env change, 19(2), 292-305. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.10.009

Cordell, D., & White, S. 2014. Life’s bottleneck: sustaining the world’s phosphorus for a food secure future. Ann Rev of Env & Res, 39, 161-188. 10.1146/annurev-environ-010213-113300

Cordell, D., & White, S. 2015. Tracking phosphorus security: indicators of phosphorus vulnerability in the global food system. Food Sec, 7(2), 337-350.

Elser, J., & Bennett, E. 2011. Phosphorus cycle: a broken biogeochemical cycle. Nature, 478(7367), 29.

Filippelli, G. M. 2011. Phosphate rock formation and marine phosphorus geochemistry: the deep time perspective. Chemosphere, 84(6), 759-766.

MacDonald, G. K., et al. 2011. Agronomic phosphorus imbalances across the world’s croplands. PNAS, 108(7), 3086-3091.

Peterson, H. Pers comm. Jan 2019

Rosen, C. Pers comm. Jan 2019

Sattari, S. Z., et al. 2012. Residual soil phosphorus as the missing piece in the global phosphorus crisis puzzle. PNAS, 109(16), 6348-6353. Rare earth reserves worldwide by country 2018. Accessed Jan 2019.

Tilman, D., et al. 2002. Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices. Nature, 418(6898), 671.

NOTE: Venezuela actually has 18% and Saudi Arabia has 16% of global oil reserves, not the other way around

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