We aren’t running out of resources as fast as some would have you believe.
We have been depleting our supply of crude oil at an alarming rate ever since the extraction of this natural resource was explored by entrepreneurs. At least that’s what scientists say about most natural resources; right as the supply of these resources sky rocket. I mean, just think back to the expansion of the telephone grid. Copper was in high demand, thus creating an economic incentive to invest in comparable resources and more efficient extraction. This video by Steven Horwitz of LearnLiberty.org explains in greater detail the fallacy of those who claim that natural resources are on the brink of being fully depleted.
The free market comes through like the clutch batter for a starving baseball team. When all else fails, the free market reassures people that they ultimately decide their own fate. The incentive to find cheaper ways of production, the entrepreneurial spirit that arises to fix the decrease in supply, and the consumer driven market that determines what products are most beneficial; these are the just a couple of the hallmarks of a free-market society.
Discussions about natural resources succumb to the lies and misjudgments of the opponents of a free-market system. We rely on these goods more than any other product to keep society functioning at optimum capacity. They fuel our cars, heat our homes, and sustain our physiological needs. These products and resources are conserved by some, used liberally by others, and not even consumed by a smaller percentage of the population.
The speed at which we consume goods should not be limited for the purpose of false sustainability. In this lies the beauty of a free market system: when developers and entrepreneurs sought a renewable form of fuel other than oil, they found more oil. Soon after this supply of oil was rapidly decreasing, even more oil was discovered and consumed. For many years we have been operating under the assumption that when a resource is in demand, we should stop relying on it entirely.
This is partially what the green-revolution seeks to accomplish. It replaces the ability of the consumer to solve the problems of supply with the government’s sovereignty over that dynamic in the market place. For example, oil is considered a non-renewable resource, and portrayed as a rapidly decreasing resource in today’s society. Rather than keeping with the tradition of finding more effective ways to extract this resource, developing more techniques to use it more efficiently, or allowing the entrepreneurs in the system to replace this resource if consumers see fit, this movement forces consumers to operate under a false assumption: that they cannot make a decision for themselves and are placing their sovereign demand in the market in the wrong place.
If oil is actually being permanently depleted without the hope of finding more or improving on current extraction techniques, than let those entrepreneurs in the energy industry seek their own solutions to this problem. The alternative is to empower the political class to force taxpayers to support the politically-favored forms of energy. But when has government picked winners and losers that profit in an ethical way in society?
The one similarity we need to recognize in all these examples is that a free, competitive market empowers consumers to dictate which direction society should pursue. Those entrepreneurs that achieve succes, therefore, are those that most efficiently meet the most urgent needs of society. In this current discussion over sustainability and the use of controversial techniques like hydraulic fracturing, let’s put aside the politics and let the free market work out the cost and benefit of each solution.
For the record, I do not object to being environmentally friendly in one’s lifestyle. It is a noble cause to be mindful of what you consume so that you allow others to partake in that resource. On the other hand, it is foolish and immoral to twist the arm of others to participate in what could be a false assumption.