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Resources Are Almost 5 Times as Abundant as They Were in 1980

Resources Are Almost 5 Times as Abundant as They Were in 1980 thumbnail

Humanity is enjoying a world of increasingly cheap and ever more abundant mineral, argicultural, forestry and energy resources reports a brilliant new study, the Simon Abundance Index. This analysis by Marian Tupy,* editor of Human Progress at the Cato Institute, and Professor Gale Pooley from Brigham Young University – Hawaii uses data on 50 different commodities to track their price trajectories over the past 37 years from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. They find in real price terms their basket of commodities decreased by an average of 36.3 percent between 1980 and 2017.

That’s great, but their breakthrough insight is that, since 1980, global real hourly income rate per capita has grown by more than 80 percent, which means that the commodities that took 60 minutes of work to buy in 1980 now take only 21 minutes of labor to buy in 2017. As a result, the “time-price” of their basket of commodities has fallen by 64.7 percent.

Tupy and Pooley also devise a price elasticity of population (PEP) measure that finds that resource abundance increases faster than population does. In economics, they explain, elasticity is a measure of a variable’s sensitivity to a change in another variable. They report:

Between 1980 and 2017, the time-price of our basket of commodities declined by 64.7 percent. Over the same time period, the world’s population increased from 4.46 billion to 7.55 billion. That’s a 69.3 percent increase. The PEP indicates that the time-price of our basket of commodities declined by 0.934 percent for every 1 percent increase in population.

[P]eople often assume that population growth leads to resource depletion. We found the opposite. Over the past 37 years, every additional human being born on our planet appears to have made resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.

Tupy and Pooley combine their findings with regard to time-price and PEP trends to derive the Simon Abundance Index (SAI). The index is named in honor of University of Maryland economist Julian Simon. Simon famously bet Stanford University population bomber Paul Ehrlich and his colleagues that the real prices of a basket of commodities chosen by Ehrlich priced $1,000 would decline between 1980 and 1990. In October 1990, Ehrlich mailed Simon a check for $576.07, meaning that the price of the commodities had fallen by more than 50 percent.

SAITupy & Pooley

The new SAI, explain Tupy and Pooley, represents the ratio of the change in population over the change in the time-price, times 100, with the base year at 1980 and a base value of 100. They report that “between 1980 and 2017, resource availability increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 4.32 percent. That means that the Earth was 379.6 percent more abundant in 2017 than it was in 1980.”

They also report that the SAI rose to 479.6 in 2018, meaning the Earth was nearly five times more plentiful with respect to the 50 commodities they track than it it was when Ehrlich and Simon laid their famous wager. What about the future? Tupy and Pooley calculate if current trends continue that “our planet will be 83 percent more abundant in 2054 than it was in 2017.”

“The world is a closed system in the way that a piano is a closed system. The instrument has only 88 notes, but those notes can be played in a nearly infinite variety of ways. The same applies to our planet,” write the authors. “The Earth’s atoms may be fixed, but the possible combinations of those atoms are infinite. What matters, then, is not the physical limits of our planet, but human freedom to experiment and reimagine the use of resources that we have.”

The SAI devised by Tupy and Pooley elegantly refutes the primitive zero-sum intuitions peddled by the likes of Ehrlich and his acolytes that afflict so much of popular and policy discourse with respect to population and resource availability trends.

*Disclosure: Marian Tupy and I are working together on book that tracks and explains nearly 100 global population, income, commodity, and environmental trends.

reason.com



77 Comments on "Resources Are Almost 5 Times as Abundant as They Were in 1980"

  1. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:06 am 

    This is JuanP Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:03 am
    “Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:17 am Are you going to copy and paste everything I say this morning stupid? This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:18 am Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 5:17 am Are you going to copy and paste everything I say this morning stupid?”

  2. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:09 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:05 am
    LOL, anonymouse the sock cop is back after a month of irrelevance. I wonder if he will have anything to say about all the JuanP sock’s being played? anon whines about identity theft and socks until it is his gang member then it is ok. LOON

  3. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:09 am 

    Yeah, yeah Anonymouse is here!!!!

    Where have you been, friend? Glad to have you back and please stick around for awhile!!!!!

  4. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:11 am 

    The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:09 am Yeah, yeah Anonymouse is here!!!!

  5. Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:11 am 

    supertard, take a chill pill, bro

    PBUH Sweet

  6. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:14 am 

    Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:11 am supertard, take a chill pill, bro PBUH Sweet

  7. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:16 am 

    Note to self: My hostility would drop considerably if, instead of telling everyone about what I plan to do, I follow through with a brief cornholing and/or a brisk cornhuskin’.

    Also, based on where I live, stop being so insistent that it be delivered in the form of an ebony cock.

  8. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:18 am 

    The truth shall set me free…..

    Note to Self:

    My hostility would drop considerably if, instead of telling everyone about what I plan to do, I follow through with a brief cornholing and/or a brisk cornhuskin’.

    Also, based on where I live, stop being so insistent that it be delivered in the form of an ebony cock.

  9. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:18 am 

    OMG. JuanP is everywhere! He’s EVERYWHERE I tell you!!!

  10. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:23 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:16 am
    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:18 am
    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:18 am

  11. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:23 am 

    “OMG. JuanP is everywhere! He’s EVERYWHERE I tell you!!!”

    You got that much right, girlfriend.

  12. Antius on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:24 am 

    Jesus Christ. This board has been ruined by a mentally ill Hispanic Marxist, who clearly lacks for gainful employment.

  13. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:25 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:23 am “OMG. JuanP is everywhere! He’s EVERYWHERE I tell you!!!”

  14. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:27 am 

    This is so much the work of fmr-paultard aka Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума, et al and DavyScum. Call it a joint enterprise- a marriage of two carbon copies.

    It’s got retarded fingerprints

  15. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:27 am 

    This board was ruined by me a long time ago Anti-US.
    I take full credit girlfriend.

  16. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:37 am 

    “Renewables, Energy Storage, & Managing The Utility Grid Of The Future”
    https://tinyurl.com/y79m8cv2

    “Non-Wires Alternatives: These are strategies utility companies can utilize to manage energy demand without building new generating facilities and stringing new utility lines. What was really exciting for us to see was the range of technologies and the different applications being used in these projects — behind and in front of the meter, combined heat and power, solar, storage, energy efficiency”

    “Sun In A Box: Researchers at MIT have come up with a new way of storing electricity they claim can be installed anywhere and costs less than half as much as pumped hydro… Sun In A Box,” could power an entire city of 100,000 people using a container that is no more than 10 meters square… The system, which is known officially as Thermal Energy Grid Storage… Silicon can be heated to as much as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit and that’s were things get interesting. You might expect that high temperature silicon would be ideal for making steam but the researchers went in a different direction entirely. When silicon gets that hot it gives off a brilliant white light. The Sun In A Box system uses that light to make electricity from specialized hetero-junction solar cells.”

    “Siting Of Renewables Is An Important Consideration: Researchers at Rice University in Texas claim there needs to be more coordination of where wind and solar energy systems are located in order to maximize their contribution to a stable grid. For instance, they find that offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico can be relied upon to deliver electricity during times when wind power in West Texas is low and solar power throughout the state is waning due to darkness.”

  17. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:38 am 

    The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:27 am This is so much the work of fmr-paultard aka Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума, et al and DavyScum. Call it a joint enterprise- a marriage of two carbon copies. It’s got retarded fingerprints
    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 6:27 am
    This board was ruined by me a long time ago Anti-US. I take full credit girlfriend.

  18. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 7:13 am 

    “Monarch butterflies disappearing from western North America”
    https://tinyurl.com/yam3s2ga

    “VANCOUVER, Wash.—Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver and lead author of the study. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000.” Schultz adds, “This study doesn’t just show that there are fewer monarchs now than 35 years ago. It also tells us that, if things stay the same, western monarchs probably won’t be around as we know them in another 35 years.”

  19. Antius on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 7:13 am 

    “The Sun In A Box system uses that light to make electricity from specialized hetero-junction solar cells.”

    Good post Davy, interesting stuff. Thermal radiation increases with the fourth power of temperature and the PV module efficiency is also a function of photon wavelength. On the plus side, this sort of energy storage system would be extremely compact, as the generator is in the form of extremely thin PV panels built into the housing of the thermal store. The downside is poor whole cycle efficiency (perhaps 20%), although that might not be such a problem if use can be made of the waste heat.

  20. The Truth Shall Set You Free on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 8:13 am 

    Anti-US

    You do realize that your technical word salad about which nobody gives a flying crap except for you and girlfriend, is entirely off topic.

  21. Sissyfuss on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 9:25 am 

    Antius, ignore the trolls and keep posting. Your insightful and educational remarks are well appreciated by many. The fools that keep dragging this site into grade school bickering will hopefully get bored and move on.

  22. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 9:52 am 

    Don’t hold your breath Sis. It’s been going on daily for around six years now and I’m not going anywhere.

  23. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 9:57 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 9:52 am Don’t hold your breath Sis. It’s been going on daily for around six years now and I’m not going anywhere.

  24. Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 10:04 am 

    It’s all about me!

  25. This is JuanP on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 10:10 am 

    Davy on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 10:04 am It’s all about me!

  26. Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума on Fri, 7th Dec 2018 10:17 am 

    How can a tard and a former paultard ruin the board, he cant! people who say this either long for sharia, extremism, or totalitarianism . they say they’re for the constitution that supertards gave us but want to restrict it. this is leftist agenda because they’re all libtards. i’m a libtard so i know how it works. we used peace as a stick to beat up police and govt agents but we don’t believe in peace.

    one of the perplexing thing for me is how can supertard being a libtard himself draw so much hate. he’s atheist – “sky daddy” and evolutionlist “dropping out of trees”. what’s not to like.

    i criticize supertard but i’m always defending supertard. i am humble and thankful supertards gave me america, safe electricity, indoors plumbing, running water.

  27. B on Sat, 8th Dec 2018 5:03 am 

    There used to be useful comments on this site, some time ago…

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