Thursday Things: Take a Chance on Me Edition
2 September 2021. Vol 3 No 35 By Dan McGirt.
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“ABBA has a new album. The prophecy is fulfilled.” Source: Camden & Hailey George on Unsplash
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The Simon Abundance Index 2021 finds that the Earth was 608 percent more abundant in 2020 than it was in 1980. What does that mean?
Does population growth lead to greater resource scarcity, as argued by the English scholar Thomas Malthus and, more recently, by the Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich? Or does population growth make resources more abundant, as argued by the University of Maryland economist Julian Simon? The Simon Abundance Index measures the relationship between population growth and the abundance of 50 basic commodities, including food, energy, materials, minerals, and metals.
Unsurprisingly, I come down on the “more abundant” side of that argument. The idea of the Earth being “overpopulated” or there being too many people is absurd, if not downright anti-human. Yet far too many people believe exactly that — despite all evidence to the contrary.
Global resource abundance increased by 5.9 percent in 2020, according to the 4th annual Simon Abundance Index. The base year of the index is 1980, and the base value of the index is 100 percent. In 2020, the index reached 708.4 percent. In other words, the index rose by 608.4 percentage points over the last 40 years, implying a compound annual growth rate in resource abundance of around 5 percent and doubling of global resource abundance every 14 years or so.
You can go to the link for all the math and explanations of how the index is calculated, but here’s the bottom line:
We found that humanity is experiencing what we term Superabundance – a condition where abundance is increasing at a faster rate than the population is growing. Data suggests that additional human beings tend to benefit, rather than impoverish, the rest of humanity. That vindicates Julian Simon’s observation that:
There is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose.… Adding more people will cause [short‐run] problems, but at the same time there will be more people to solve these problems and leave us with the bonus of lower costs and less scarcity in the long run.… The ultimate resource is people—skilled, spirited, and hopeful people who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit, and so, inevitably, for the benefit of us all.
We are in some ways mentally wired to focus on the bad news, on the threats around us, on the novel and unusual and startling events, the sudden disasters. This tendency often blinds us to the boring, in the background, bit by bit, day by day ways that the world is always getting better.
See what I mean? ABBA set to unveil comeback with holograms and new songs
“Nearly four decades after disbanding and vowing never to get back together, Swedish superstars ABBA were expected to announce a comeback on Thursday with new songs and performances by holograms called "Abbatars".”
Speaking of a bright, shiny future here is a video I stumbled onto this past week. In this 1976 interview, science fiction author (he wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, among many other stories) and futurist Arthur C. Clarke predicted — well, basically everything. The World Wide Web, smartphones, ebooks, text messaging, and more. In a five minute interview. I’m pretty sure he was an alien.
And here are a few tips to help you live long enough to enjoy the better world of tomorrow: A longevity expert shares the diet, exercise and sleep rules he lives by for a longer, stronger life: These are ‘non-negotiable’
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