CORNUCOPIAN DELUSIONS

A Chevron magazine ad starts on one page with:
“The world is growing by more than 70 million people a year.
So is that a problem, or a solution?”

The next page in the spread answers their question:

Chevron ad

Oh my God! Human Energy™ is . . . people! We’ve got to stop them somehow!

Chevron says we are the most powerful source of energy in the world, and yet one gallon of their gasoline contains the energy equivalent of 500 hours of human work output. We’re going to need a lot of Human Energy™ when oil requires more energy to extract and refine than we get out ot it.

Let’s see now, what shall we feed them? Can’t invest more calories than we get in return—nothing personal, just business.


Cornucopian vs neo-Malthusean

Boosters of cornucopian optimism rave about humanity’s ability to overcome any difficulty neo-Malthusians might imagine befalling the burgeoning billions of us. However, they acknowledge one catastrophe from which we would never recover: a shrinking population.

In “Catastrophists versus Cornucopians,” Marisa asks, “If humans are so deft in inventing new solutions to ever increasing problems, what then stands in the way of creating new solutions to the economic affliction of demographic decline, publicized by the press and governments as the ultimate tragic event?”

Unlimited resources: “...in practical terms, the supply of a resource is not finite. It is integrally dependent on human ingenuity. If we were to think of ways to double the efficiency with which we use oil, it would be equivalent to doubling the supply of oil.”
If it weren’t for the Jevon’s Paradox, anyway.


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