RE: ECON: Simon vs Ehrlich

Hal Dunn (
Sun, 27 Apr 1997 13:27:06 -0400

>From: "Laws, David" <>
>Date: Sat, 26 Apr 1997 20:29:18 -0400
>I am no geologist. I am no economist. To say we are running out of any
>mineral (except oil) just basically seems silly. The earth's crust should
>be strewn with every mineral known to man (and then some....wood and air is
>a far more known limiter).

Julian Simon is an economist and I think one of his main points is that
throughout history scarcity itself has helped to preserve the Earth's
natural resources. As long as a resource is considered useful, it is
considered valuable (and worthy) and it will have a price. The more scarce a
resource becomes, the higher the price will go.

As the price goes up, the number of buyers who think it is still worth the
price will go down. This has a similar effect as conservation, i.e., fewer
users of a resource.

Simon uses fossil fuel as an example. He says we will NEVER run out of oil.
Technically, he's probably right. As oil becomes scarce, the price rises. By
the time the price becomes cost-prohibitive, other useful alternatives or
substitutes will be invented or discovered. By the time we have very little
oil left, it will be so expensive that no one will want to buy it, so we
will never really run out.

Hal Dunn