Renewable Nonsense

Dave Killion — May 23, 2011

Matt Ridley has an illuminating op-ed up at the Wall Street Journal regarding the dangers of promoting renewable resources,pointing out that we are not likely to run out of hydrocarbons any time soon –

Contrast that with blue whales, cod and passenger pigeons, all of which plainly renew themselves by breeding. But exploiting them caused their populations to collapse or disappear in just a few short decades. It’s a startling fact that such “renewable” resources keep running short, while no non-renewable resource has yet run out: not oil, gold, uranium or phosphate. The stone age did not end for lack of stone…

So if you’re thinking about heating the home with oil extracted from a renewable resource like giant pandas, you might want to reconsider. Renewable does not equal inexhaustible. This is a striking observation, and one of many that I first encountered in Ridley’s wonderful book “The Rational Optimist“.


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