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Resource Use

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

I go back and forth sometimes between two schools of thought on resource usage:

A) Conservation- resources are limited and must be saved (environmentalists, energy & water conservation, etc.)
B) Exploration & Development- the universe holds infinite resources and we should focus on finding new ways to exploit these rather than waste time on conservation.

Lately I have been leaning towards B.  Mankind should focus on moving off-planet as quickly as possible and develop better technologies for mining & harvesting & using resources on our own planet as well as other areas of our galaxy and even the universe itself.

Conservationists believe that resource usage is a zero sum game.  It is not.  Oil companies keep discovering vast new reserves as well as ways to get much more oil out of fields that were once thought tapped out.  Water is the most common element on our planet and if we can find better ways of purifying sea water, many serious issues facing the American Southwest and other areas of the world will disappear.  Even the push against air pollution should be more about harvesting the bad elements out of the air then not producing them in the first place.

Thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Resource Use

  1. Using the example of oil doesn’t help your case that resource use is not a zero-sum game, at least on this planet. Just because oil companies keep finding new reserves and pulling more oil out of fields thought to be depleted doesn’t mean that there’s an infinite amount of oil in the ground. A lot of the new sources are simply due to the fact that higher prices have made it economically viable to extract certain reserves and use certain methods that would not have provided a profit at previous, lower oil prices. The earth’s natural processes for producing oil cannot even come close to producing oil as fast as we consume it and therefore by definition it will someday run out. New reserves and new extraction methods push that day into the future, but one day there will be no more oil, or no means of extracting it that doesn’t use more energy than the oil provides.

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