Thursday, August 17, 2006

More mining please

When do you think this was written:
You must know that the world has grown old, and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the sun’s warmth are both diminishing; the metals are nearly exhausted; the husbandman is failing in the fields, the sailor on the seas, the soldier in the camp, honesty in the market, justice in the courts, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals...
The person who said "in the third century AD" wins the prize. Yep, today's pessimists and are pikers compared to the doom-makers of the third century. Since then, we've mined, scraped, drilled, extracted and quarried millions and millions and millions of tons of stuff from the earth, and guess what: there's still billions of tons left, and even without recycling some of that stuff that's enough for at least another million years of extraction.

George Reisman has done the calculation. Go check his working for errors. And even with all that stuff extracted, man's ingenuity continually finds new uses for all the stuff we can extract, increasing the amount of useable stuff potentially available to us.

Despite this however, George is not entirely optimistic. The problems he sees, however, are not with resources running out, but with resources being taken out of possible production:
Our growing problems in connection with the supply of natural resources are not caused by nature but by us. We have allowed ourselves to abandon our reason and give up our freedom. We have allowed ourselves to be led by people who would have us freeze and be immobilized rather than spill some oil on snow hardly any of us will ever see or disturb the habitat of wild animals that mean nothing to us. If we allow this to continue, then where we are headed is to a world describable by these terrible words of despair [at the start of the post].
And if we chose not to allow this, not to tolerate this ...
There is no helplessness in fact. To men who use reason and are free to act, nature gives more and more. To those who turn away from reason or are not free, it gives less and less. Nothing else is involved.
I guess that's why the late Julian Simon used to all the human mind and human creativity "the ultimate resource."

UPDATE: Links and 'punchline' added.

LINK: Mining for the next million years - George Reisman's blog
The ultimate resource - Cafe Hayek

RELATED: Conservation, Environment

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