From Scarcity to Human Ingenuity: How Technology Discredits the Wackos

Most of us in the business world took economics in college. In one sense, economics is the study of scarcity. The radical greenies of the world have made a profession and an industry out of scaring the rest of us into thinking that the earth is being depleted of scarce natural resources.

We are told that the evil business community wants to pave and concrete all the land, making us cut down all the trees and increasing CO2 levels. Add to that the “exhaust-spewing” automobiles and factory smoke, say the wacko fringe greenies, and we will be writhing in dramatic climate change that will engulf us all.

Whoa. Back up. Break out the memories. If you grew up in the 1970s, that was the age when the U.S. was “running out” of oil and gasoline, and using up natural resources— whatever your parents had, slice it in half and you might be lucky to get that. In an even earlier era, you were told that land was scarce, “they aren’t making any more of it”, and there would be only a limited amount of food because the world population was exploding.

And yet, from 1930 to 1980, crop-rotation and food productivity went up. In fact, it went up by a factor of 300 times per acre, creating in effect 300 times more land. Fewer farmers could use technology to produce more food.

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We can go further back, over 200 years, and hear the English economist Malthus predict that millions of people were going to die from starvation because of too many people and not enough food. His proposed solution was worldwide population control. His prediction was very wrong of course, because what Malthus could not foresee was productivity growth. He did not factor in new technology. And that’s also what today’s wacko environmentalists do not factor in. Their thought process is to hold technology constant, impede-growth, which they think boosts their argument, but in fact that is the Achilles heel of their predictions and the error of their ways.

When America was running out of copper and oil about 50 years ago, the doom-speakers made the same classic mistake because they were ignorant of world history: when mankind has run out of a resource, we find other, cheaper ways to get it. The U.S., especially, has been successful at using capitalism to invent something completely new, to replace the disappearing resource. Examples: due to costs, vinyl records were replaced by the digital CD, turning the record industry upside down. Or the great coal crisis in the 1970s. In World War II, America completely lost our access to rubber and rubber trees, when the routes from Malaysia were cut off. Military land vehicles can’t move without rubber. So, American scientists invented synthetic rubber. In the world of economics, in the 1980s, we solved a healthcare problem for elders by switching from defined benefit plans to IRAs and 401(k)s– this allowed people to save for their future healthcare expenses.
We solved the U.S. deforestation problem by reforestation technology and we now have about 3 trillion trees in the nation. We have more trees in North America today than when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.

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History reveals that humans are always running out of some resource. But U.S. capitalistic human ingenuity has stepped up and invented new resources to replace what was lost. America’s history shows that we seem to always be running out of something, backs perhaps against the wall, and then our scientists or medical experts get to work and fix the problem. Technology has been the key, especially in medicine, with the typhoid cure, the polio vaccine and antibiotics.

We will see the same kind of future inventions cropping up during this whole “green” campaign of “global warming”. We will figure out ways to solve these problems without ruining the economic lives of people across the globe, and disintegrating the entire economies of nations caused by stupid new laws pushed by the rabid fringe of environmentalists.

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