Natural Resources and International Development

Natural Resources and International Development

Natural Resources and International Development

Natural Resources and International Development

Excerpt

Almost the whole world seems preoccupied with economic growth and development these days. There is rivalry among the advanced countries, most marked between the leading nations of the two great world power blocs, as to the rate of economic growth achieved this year and anticipated for the years ahead. The poorer countries seek economic improvement to obtain the full advantages of political independence, and to escape the brutal poverty which has so long been their lot. Rich and poor alike have learned from experience that economic adjustments of all kinds are far easier to accomplish during periods of growth than of stagnation, and that -- within wide limits -- the faster the growth rate, the easier are the adjustments and changes necessarily required by economic evolution.

It has not always been thus. Traditional societies deny both the possibility and the desirability of growth; change is not valued, but shunned. The old and the familiar are preferred above the new and the strange. These attitudes are fast disappearing, at least among the leaders of even these countries. Economic growth is widely, if not universally, sought today.

This emphasis upon economic growth is reflected in a concern over natural resources and their use, especially in the lower-income countries. In such countries, capital is scarce, manpower is unskilled, and entrepreneurship is weak. Lacking these other assets, the low-income countries are specially concerned to appraise their resources, to ascertain the ways in which fuller use of the natural endowment may lead them to prosperity. The richer countries can make substitutes for many natural resource products -- the magic of modern chemistry and industry has opened vast new avenues in this direction; and they can buy what they need in the world's markets, from other advanced countries or from the poorer ones. They can trade skill and capital for Nature.

Economic growth is a complex process. The United States has experienced a discouragingly low growth rate in the past several years. Why? There is no lack of diaposes, but there is far from full agreement among economists, to say nothing of divergence among politicians and the gen-

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