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« Why Looking Carefully at Data Matters | Main | South Park Gets Regime Uncertainty »


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Wow, that Daly article is embarrassing. He completely ignores Simon's argument about resources as services, and instead focuses on the "points on a line" bogey.

Will there ever be an ecologist who understands economics?

I would expect better in the Social Contract Press....

As for ecologists who understand economics, I think ecologists, which I was after my first degree, who learn economics cease to be ecologists pretty quickly. I credit Simon with part of that in my case. It baffles me how people can so entirely miss what he is saying.

Then there's Slobodkin (A Citizen's Guide to Ecology) who compares increase in species populations to interest returns on savings:

"If conditions are right, all populations can increase, almost like money in an interest-bearing savings account" (p. 118).

"The guiding image for thinking of reproductive value is that of bank loans" (p. 121).

"This is equivalent to valuing a present payment above a future one in money lending" (p. 123).

"If there is inflation of currency..." (p. 121).

"This discussion seems forbidding, but taken in steps it is extremely simple. It is so powerful theoretically that it is very much worth the trouble of rewording" (p. 121).

With all due respect, the mind cannot find what isn't there to be found. In the case of oil, the cheap resources have already been found and we are destined to move down the back end of Hubbert's Peak going forward. While that does not mean that we will ever run out of oil it does mean that we will have to put our ingenuity to work to create substitutes. While that should not be difficult, it is very clear that the transition to a world that has less oil available will be a difficult one for nations and individuals who are not prepared for it.

It is clear that Simon was right to place his faith on human ingenuity. But it is also clear that we should not misunderstand his argument to think that we will have cheap oil and cheap energy over the next few decades.

"the mind cannot find what isn't there to be found"

V.V.: I'll grant that. But the point here is the mind can create from what there is to be found.

Cheap oil and cheap energy, that's a different issue.

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