Tip of the humanprogress.com hat to Matt Ridley for his essay in the Wall Street Journal on April 14, 2014 headlined “The World’s Resources Aren’t Running Out.” Ridley cites a hand wringing Jim Leape of the World Wide Fund for Nature International who opines that by 2030 two planets (worth of resources) will not be enough. While Ridley doesn’t need our help to make his point we were struck by the similarity of Leape’s prediction to one we cited in our essay The Great State of Humanity. In our essay we cite an article from the New York Times of October 2, 1969 where a Dr. Hudson Hoagland from the Worchester Foundation for Experimental Biology is quoted as saying that “…competent scientists believe the world cannot indefinitely support the 3.5 billion people we have on the earth today, let alone the horrendous numbers anticipated in the relatively near future.” Here we are 45 years later and the population has doubled and global living standards have never been higher. Nor has life expectancy. Ridley’s essay deals with the population issue head on with a mention of earth possibly being able to support 100 billion.
Mr. Leape’s prediction only spans 16 years so we won’t need to wait too long to conclude he’s wrong. Actually we won’t wait at all: He’s wrong.
We refer readers to another WSJ article from 2012 by John W. Miller. Miller offers up various estimates of remaining supply of a variety of key resources. We’ll leave it to our readers to read the article for themselves, but we will offer up one illuminating quote from the article: BHP Billiton’s CEO (and geologist) Andrew McKenzie states, “We think there are 10,000 more years of minerals left for civilization.”
We’ll give Ridley the last word, quoting from the sub head of his essay: “Ecologists worry that the world’s resources come in fixed amounts that will run out, but we have broken through such limits again and again.”
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