3) Natural Resources Are Finite
Alex Epstein is the president and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and a frequent guest on PJTV’s Front Page with Allen Barton. He’s got a great take on natural resources. To paraphrase, they don’t truly exist.
What does exist are raw materials. Crude oil lying on the ground or deep within the earth is a resource to no one. For untold thousands of years, oil sat under man’s feet without adding any value to his life. It is not as if we dug a hole and found gasoline, petroleum jelly, and plastics. Even if we did, absent a knowledge of their uses they would lay worthless. A resource can only become such once something has been added to the raw materials found in nature. That something is the mind.
It takes a mind to discover a use for crude oil, to work out a process for recovering and refining it, and to act on such thoughts rationally. That is why doomsday predictions about peak oil and the sudden horrific end of the industrial age remain unfulfilled, because the focus of such predictions is upon the perception of raw materials rather than the nature of the mind.
A mind devised the means to retrieve oil from shale rock through a process of horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” As a result, an entire new sector of the oil industry has erupted into existence in defiance of peak oil alarmists. The advent of something like fracking cannot be accounted for in predictions about the future of energy, because the mind constantly defies known limitations. Our entire civilization stands as testament to this fact. We sleep soundly in warm dry beds rather than on edge in wet chilly caves because man thought to make new use of the world around him, and so changed it from wild to his own.
For this reason, we are in no danger of running out of resources unless we hold the mind in bondage. We cannot predict here how current technological limitations will be overcome. If we could, we’d be in business. But we can rely upon the evidence of history and rest confidently in the nature of man, which is to apply his mind to the problem of survival and the pursuit of happiness. As long as man continues to seek after the furtherance of his own life, there will be resources devised toward the task.