Natural resource limits no big deal

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 09:26:56 MDT

This article estimates that natural resource limits induce us to
consume 1% less each year than we would if there were no limits.

Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 114 Issue 2, May 1999, Pages 691-706

Pricing the Limits to Growth from Minerals Depletion

By Martin L. Weitzman

This paper evaluates the loss of global welfare from exhaustion of
nonrenewable resources, such as oil. The underlying methodology represents
an empirical application of some recent developments in the theory of green
accounting and sustainability. The paper estimates that the world loses the
equivalent of about 1 percent of final consumption per year from finiteness
of the earth's resources, compared with a counterfactual trajectory where
global extraction of minerals is allowed to remain forever constant at
today's flow rates and extraction costs.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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