Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered

Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered

Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered

Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered

Excerpt

The objective of this volume is to report on an effort to reconsider the long-run importance and availability of natural resources for economic growth and material well-being. These concerns were among the contributing factors which motivated the founding of Resources for the Future. It is not surprising, then, that they formed the basis for some of RFF's first research efforts. One of the most influential products of this research was the work supervised by Harold Barnett. Indeed, the volume to which the title of this book refers summarizes this research. For nearly two decades, Harold Barnett and Chandler Morse Scarcity and Growth: The Economics of Natural Resource Availability has had a significant impact on the attitudes of economists and policy makers toward natural resource availability.

A renewed questioning of the adequacy of our natural resources as conventionally defined; increased popular interest in preserving our environmental resources and improving their quality; and a more cautious, if not somewhat skeptical, view of technological change and economic growth made this seem an appropriate time to take stock of current views on natural resource availability. The papers in this volume were presented at a forum sponsored by the Ford Foundation in the fall of 1976. Larry Ruff was instrumental in initiating this effort. Prompted by the general concern over the need for a reevaluation of the Barnett-Morse work and a series of meetings with Harold Barnett, Herman Daly, Bruce Hannon, and Toby Page, Larry arranged for the funding which permitted organizing a research forum on these issues.

My own interest in this area was initiated eight years ago when John Krutilla first discerned that the treatment of the role of natural resources in economic activities made it necessary to reconsider the Barnett-Morse findings. I have been generously assisted in this task by support from Resources for the Future, before and after joining the staff and by a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for the 1976-77 academic year. Since most of my own thinking on these problems has been influenced by John Krutilla, I was exceptionally pleased when he agreed to join with me in preparing the overview and concluding essays for this volume.

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