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Why shouldn't we restrain from over-exploiting our resources?

asked Oct 13 '10 at 02:12

Michael's gravatar image


edited Oct 13 '10 at 11:56

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Which resources and based on what evidence they are reaching an end?

(Oct 13 '10 at 02:22) Cog Cog's gravatar image

Exploit: 1) "to utilize, esp. for profit; turn to practical account"; 2) "to use selfishly for one's own ends"; 3) "to advance or further through exploitation; promote".

How does one "over-exploit" something? The more you exploit something, the better. The term "over-exploit" is self-contradictory.

(Oct 13 '10 at 12:00) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Let's take an example: over-fishing the oceans. Is it not true that some species are dwindling? The farm-raised versions (an example of man creating his own resources) are not as good and not as healthy, so there's value in not loosing the wild ones. On principle, I'd argue for property rights, but I don't know enough about the subject of fish to say much. Do others here know?

(Oct 13 '10 at 13:37) Mike Hinchey Mike%20Hinchey's gravatar image
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We should not advocate restraint to avoid over exploitation of natural resources. We should advocate laissez-faire Capitalism.

In a free market, it is not possible to "over exploit" a resource. That is because prices reflect both present and future value of a product. Because of this, prices increase far earlier than the resource "runs out" signaling the market that alternatives are more welcome. All resources have alternatives available, and as the price of one resource increases alternatives become more economically viable. I'm pretty sure this concept is clearly explained in Thomas Sowell's book "Basic Economics."

Every example of "over exploitation" revolves around government control. The specific example of fish is an example of the tragedy of the commons. That is, because a resource is commonly available, with no ownership of that resource, the resource is over used. Public pastures are over grazed. Publish fisheries are over fished. If these resources were privately owned, the owners would have huge incentives to ensure the resource was managed properly, and was maximally productive. Craig Biddle has quipped, "The tragedy of the commons, is that there is a commons." (He may not have been the first.)

So, the only thing we need to worry about, to avoid over exploitation, is to eliminate government control of property, and this will render the question irrelevant.

answered Oct 13 '10 at 22:36

John%20Hoffman's gravatar image

John Hoffman ♦

The number of resources human beings have run out of throughout history: 0. Why not? Not because we have "restrained" ourselves from "over-exploiting" these resources. (You could even argue that in the past there were instances of over-cultivation of certain resources as the result of poorly defined property rights.)

I would name two reasons. The first is that, as economic George Reisman has pointed out, the earth is one enormous ball of natural resources. The second is that natural resources are created by the human mind. We have to discover their potentialities, where they can be found, how to extract them from the earth, how to put them to new and better uses. In other words, raw materials become resources through a process of reason-guided economic progress--and this process opens up more and more areas of the earth (and eventually space) to economic development.

What we need is not more restraint but less, i.e., more freedom.

answered Oct 13 '10 at 09:15

Publius's gravatar image

Publius ♦

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Asked: Oct 13 '10 at 02:12

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Last updated: Oct 13 '10 at 22:36