Thursday, January 27, 2011

Julian Simon, Prophet of Cornucopianism

I have become embroiled in a debate on Twitter with @CFact, who is a devotee of a free market economist professor of business administration by the name of  Julian Simon, who was a cornucopian - one who believes that there are no limits to the Earth's resources, because human ingenuity is the ultimate resource that will overcome all scarcities.

He writes: "in practical terms there is no valid evidence we are in danger of running out of physical resources".

So I call on the services of my friend, the excellent Bill Rigby, of the equally excellent Marinet site, and he comes up with the fish catch graph. It shows the catch of benthic fish in the UK over 110 years. The effect of the wars is notable, as boats were unable to go out. Over the whole century, the power to catch fish has been ramped up, with larger boats and better technology, including lately, ability to image the shoals. So the decline in the catch is even more remarkable and unavoidable. Fish are becoming scarcer. We are indeed in danger of running out of one physical resource.

As I always say, it is stupid to deplete a non-renewable resource like gas, but you need a PhD in Advanced Stupidity to deplete a renewable resource like fish.

But this will not convince the followers of the free market, whose chant is:

There is No Market but the Free Market, and Profit is My Habit.

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