Exhaustible resources and sustainable development

John E. Tilton
1996 Resources policy  
Though sustainable development is a relatively recent addition to the public lexicon, concern that resource depletion may threaten the welfare of future generations dates back at least to Thomas Malthus and other classical economists writing nearly two centuries ago. Today the debate over this threat not only continues, but seems more polarized than ever. In one school are the concerned, often ecologists and other scientists and engineers, who contend the earth cannot for long continue to
more » ... t current and anticipated levels of demand for oil and other exhaustible resources. In the opposing school are the unconcerned, often economists, who claim with equal conviction that the earth with the help of market incentives, appropriate public policies, and new technology can amply provide for society's needs for the indefinite future. That intelligent and informed individuals remain so divided on such an important issue for the future of humanity after years of debate is surprising. The explanation, at least in part, appears to lie with the very different paradigms adopted by the two different groups coupled with quite contrasting views on the beneficence of technology, public policy and the marketplace. The two competing paradigms lead to quite different outlooks on the human condition and in turn on recommendations for public policy.
doi:10.1016/s0301-4207(96)00024-4 fatcat:qo7rhvr6jrb4db3oyfcnhtrksm