Myth of Resource Depletion Is Receding Again in 2024

Laurens Craen: Still life with imaginary view // Public domain

The latest edition of the Simon Abundance Index 2024 reveals how global resources are growing faster than population, disproving common concerns about the depletion of natural resources due to population growth. The fact that we live in a time of greatest abundance is only a consequence of simple market principles.

The Simon Abundance Index measures the relationship between population growth and resource availability, with the latest data from 2023 showing that stocks of key resources are 509.4% more available than in 1980. This growth points to increasing efficiency in the use and substitution of natural resources.

Simon Abundance Index: 1980–2023 (1980 = 100)

Source: Human progress

The index for 2023, reaching a value of 609.4, illustrates how innovation and improved technologies enable more efficient and productive extraction and processing of resources. Everything is only a consequence of the liberal economic social system. Indeed, market principles, such as competition or price signaling mechanisms, stimulate technological progress and more efficient use of resources. This leads to more production per unit of resource, thereby increasing their availability and lowering their real price. After all, “the human mind is the greatest resource,” as economist Julian Simon famously said.

The findings of the Simon Abundance Index 2024 provide an optimistic view of resource availability and call for a re-evaluation of traditional views on the impact of population growth associated with resource scarcity. The increased availability of resources together with population growth, on the other hand, indicates a trend of “superabundance”.

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