The society believes that the earth’s resources will never be exhausted

If a culture worries that the earth soon will run out of productive land to grow food or of other resources, such as trees, water, or oil and natural gas, then it will become paralyzed by a fear of developing these things, and this fear will hinder its economic development.

In fact, it is highly unlikely that any resources will be used up in the foreseeable future (as one of us has argued elsewhere with reference to extensive studies of the earth’s resources).[1] One reason for this conclusion is that we keep discovering huge new reserves of resources and inventing more creative ways to access them (such as the phenomenal rise in the known quantities of U.S. oil and natural gas available for development in the last fifty years).[2]

Another reason resources are unlikely to be used up is that human ingenuity gives us the ability to develop substitutes if any particular resource becomes more scarce. For instance, in countries where fresh water supplies are limited, desalination of seawater has become more and more economical, and is being much more widely used. Although desalination is still somewhat more expensive than using fresh water, the cost is not prohibitive. To take another example, when the price of oil increases, it becomes more economical to substitute natural gas, nuclear power, or other sources of energy.

The remarkable discoveries of new sources and massive supplies of energy are not surprising in light of the Bible’s teachings, which remind us that when God created the earth he saw that “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). He wanted human beings to develop its resources and make them useful (see Gen. 1:28). The New Testament says that God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Given the earth’s abundance, and the remarkable human ingenuity that develops substitutes whenever a resource becomes scarce, it is not wrong to think that the earth’s resources, for all practical purposes, will never be exhausted.

  • [1] See Grudem, Politics, 320-86.
  • [2] See E. Calvin Beisner, Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans and Acton Institute, 1997), 63-64. See also Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), esp. chapter 11, “When Will We Run Out of Oil?Never!” 162-81; Julian Simon, ed., The State of Humanity (Oxford, UK, and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell,1995), 280-293; Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,2001), 118-36. These books also provide helpful overviews of the state of natural resources moregenerally in the earth.
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