Day 1, Week 2.
Part 5 of PERC’s Recycling Rubbish
MYTH 5: WE SQUANDER IRREPLACEABLE RESOURCES WHEN WE DON’T RECYCLE
In fact, available stocks of most natural resources are growing rather than shrinking, but the reason is not recycling.
Market prices are the best measure of natural resource scarcity. Rising prices imply that a resource is getting more scarce. Falling prices imply that it is becoming more plentiful. Applying this measure to oil, we find that over the past 125 years, oil has become no more scarce, despite our growing use of it. Reserves of other fossil fuels as well as other natural resources are also growing.
Thanks to innovation, we now produce about twice as much output per unit of energy as we did 50 years ago and five times as much as we did 200 years ago. Optical fiber carries 625 times more calls than the copper wire of 20 years ago, bridges are built with less steel, and automobile and truck engines consume less fuel per unit of work performed. The list goes on and on. Human innovation continues to increase the amount of resources at our command.
Not much to add here. I’ll save my points until Wednesday’s Part 7.