Saturday, October 01, 2005

What Would Julian Simon Say If He Saw Serenity?

He would cry, probably. At least at the beginning. Serenity, based on the cult-hit series Firefly, opens with a teacher telling the history their civilization. The story is Earth runs out of resources and the everyone travels to a new solar system to put down roots.

But Julian Simon points out that we'll never run out of resources. As raw inputs become more expensive, it becomes economical to develop alternatives. This has been the history of human civilization. And why doomsayers have claimed that we will run out of everything from food to flint, they have always been wrong.

But Simon isn't completely right. We won't have to abandon a resource-dry earth no matter what because his theory is contingent on free minds in a free society. If government controls resources (as it did in the USSR and as the US continues to do more of) we really could run out of resources. That is the great craziness of the doomsayers: they become right if we follow their advice.


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Jacob said...

So why can't offworld travel and colonization be the most economical alternative? Earth becomes dry, people go places not dry. That seems like it's been the driving force in human evolution, as least as much as the pursuit of alternatives.

David said...

I'm not saying off world travel wasn't an economical alternative, I'm just saying we would never have to abandon the planet....there's a very significant difference there.