Many people today believe the world is overpopulated and that we are running out of natural resources. This belief is based on the false premise that humans are a burden on the planet and that resources are fixed and finite. The truth is that humans are capable of creating more resources and solving more problems than they consume or create. The more people there are, the more opportunities there are for education, collaboration, and innovation that can benefit everyone.
“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) stated, along with seven other dystopian predictions in a now-infamous video forecasting what the world will look like by 2030.
Primarily concerning itself with rent-seeking materialism, the WEF has embedded itself in popular culture by stoking the public’s anxieties and the elite’s vanities. Its discourse focuses on topics like climate change, demographic fluctuation, technological innovation, and global resource scarcity. It diagnoses many problems but offers few solutions of substance beyond forfeiting hope and sovereignty to it and its leaders.
Everything is getting worse because of humanity, and the only way for things to get better is for humanity to — once again — trust the experts, so the WEF’s narrative goes.
Later this month, the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) forum will convene to offer an alternative to this vision. Essential to ARC’s premise is that the median quality of life across the globe has dramatically improved over the past few centuries, in no small part due to human ingenuity.
A paper being presented at the forum by Dr. Marian Tupy argues that contrary to the Malthusian claims of contemporary leftists and climate alarmists, population growth and resource scarcity do not share a causal relationship.
In “Superabundance Unbound: Limitless Possibilities in a Finite World,” Tupy, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, rejects the increasingly popular notion that the growing global population will eventually overutilize our planet’s finite resources. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, yet the global population continues to increase, and ruling-class conventional wisdom tells us that in order to preserve these resources, we must embrace a host of degrowth policies that ultimately reduce the median standard of living while increasing dependency on centralized authorities.
At the heart of Tupy’s argument is the notion that humanity begets innovation, and the more humans there are, the more likely innovation is to occur, which improves the median quality of life.
In his paper, Tupy argues that large-scale environmental panic predicated on resource scarcity is simply unnecessary. He points to the Simon Abundance Index, a measure of the relationship between population growth and the abundance of 50 basic commodities, to make his case. Index data from 1980 to 2022 shows the average time price of the 50 basic commodities fell by 65.5 percent while global income rose by a staggering 439.2 percent, indicating that personal resource abundance rose by 190 percent.
During this same time frame, according to Tupy, the global population grew by 79.4 percent. Thus for every 1 percent increase in global population, prices dropped by 0.825 percent on average, ultimately leading to an increased global resource abundance of 420 percent.
“Human beings are not only consumers of resources but also creators of resources. Yes, we consume and destroy, but we also create and build,” Tupy told The Federalist. “As a consequence, over centuries and millennia, we have created a richer, more educated, better fed and more tolerant world. … We [t]ake two steps forward and one step back, but over time, these small improvements have created a better world.”
Nevertheless, anti-human climate alarmists have great influence, with their ideology finding its way into the policy of effectively every major global power; in order to retain resources, drastic restrictions are being forced onto humanity. Recall the 2015 Paris Climate Accords in which nearly 200 nations and the European Union nominally committed their economies to reducing dependency on fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions while incentivizing investment in inefficient means of energy production. Similarly, China’s recently repealed but long-standing one-child policy and prominent Democrat politicians suggesting Americans should have fewer children are further iterations of this ethos — save the future by not building it.
When asked why degrowth sentiment continues to remain relevant, Tupy said, “[They] see humans purely as consumers. Like rabbits and rats, they believe, we consume everything around us, thus causing shortages and catastrophes. In contrast, we believe that humans are different from other animals. We have intelligence, long-term planning, and other attributes that allow us to transcend the problems of scarcity that impact the rest of the natural world.”
In “Superabundance,” Tupy further argues that Malthusian thinking is foolish and ignores a wealth of evidence to the contrary. He points to the fact that over time, humanity has created incentives for discovering new supplies of resources (new ore mines, for instance), more efficient ways to utilize the resources we already have, and ways to substitute resource-intensive products with less but more durable material. Further, as man ventures farther into space and deeper into the oceans, we will likely find ways to use and return resources from both frontiers.