When is a resource said to be scarce? What is the difference between relative and absolute scarcity? Can resource scarcity be measured? These are some of the key questions about scarcity examined during the course in resource economics I will be teaching this Fall. As readings I chose Krautkraemer, J. 2005. Economics of Natural Resource Scarcity: the State of the Debate , Resource for the Future Discussion Paper 05-14 and Baumgärtner, Stefan, Becker, Christian, Faber, Malte and Manstetten, Reiner. 2005. Relative and absolute scarcity of nature forthcoming in Ecological Economics. I think that taken together these two articles offer an excellent critical introduction to the issue of resource scarcity, stimulating students’ reflection on the theme.
Becker and Posner reflect on resource scarcity and sustainable development. Becker embraces the optimistic view that scarcity is relative and mitigated by market mechanisms. Posner, instead, is more pessimistic about the possibilities for sustainable growth. Read the original comments by Becker and Posner on sustainable development
“Deep experience of the world– meaningful and revealing relationships with the people, places and things we interact with– requires many speeds of engagement, and especially the slower ones.“[Slow lab: ideas]
At slow lab you can “explore the concept of ‘slow’ and its potential applications in practice“.
Adam Porter for the BBC discusses the reliability of statistics on known oil reserves in How much oil do we really have?.
He reports that the statistics on known oil reserves are not very reliable. These statistics cannot be verified by independent third parties: many countries do not allow outsiders to audit the size of their oil fields. Moreover there are incentives to misrepresent the size of oil reserves. For instance for within OPEC extraction quotas proportional to their declared reserves give an incentive to declare large reserves.
Read the whole story at How much oil do we really have?.