02/12/2019

There Are Two Energy Futures For America

Robert L. Bradley Jr., FEE

There are two energy futures for America. One is freedom and prosperity. The other is politics, conflict, and waste. As with other goods and services, energy’s availability and affordability will depend on whether natural incentives and economic law are respected or hampered by government policy.

Free-Market Energy

The future of free-market energy is bright and open-ended. “It’s reasonable to expect the supply of energy to continue becoming more available and less scarce, forever,” Julian Simon wrote in his magnum opus, The Ultimate Resource II. “Discoveries, like resources, may well be infinite: the more we discover, the more we are able to discover.” 

Resourceship, entrepreneurship applied to minerals, explains the seeming paradox of expanding depletable resources. Statistics confirmed Simon’s view, yet Malthusian critics belittled him as a naïve romantic. To which Simon responded: “I am not an optimist, I am a realist.”

Julian Simon had once feared overpopulation and resource depletion. The contradictory data, as he explained in his autobiography A Life Against the Grain, reversed his thinking. More people, greater wealth, more resources, a healthier environment was the new finding that Simon turned into articles, books, and lectures in the last decades of his life.

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