A Great Website On The Simon/Erlich Bet

Here’s a great source for the next time you run into an apocalyptic, Doomsday-predicting naysayer: a detailed summary of the famous bet between Julian Simon and Paul Erlich.

Punch line: prices reflect scarcity. Human creativity and ingeneuity, expressed through technological change, can push back the bounds of scarcity, even in resources that are technically nonrenewable.

This is why the right answer to “when will we run out of oil?” is … NEVER! At least not as long as we have world markets for it …


One thought on “A Great Website On The Simon/Erlich Bet

  1. That page is indeed a good description.
    There’s also another reason for copper prices falling which they don’t give and which would illustrate Simon’s point about eventually using rock as a mineral resource.
    It was not just changes in consumption ( fibre optics etc ) but also the introduction of a new extraction process, SW/SX. Introduced in a production line in 1981 / 2 for the first time, this allowed a whole class of copper sulphate ( sorry, memory is a little hazy, might be sulphide ) ores to be used : previously these were simply dirt.
    As Simon pointed out, humans create resources via technology,so the only scarce resource is human ingenuity.

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