The future is purchased by the present.
-- Samuel Johnson, The rambler
At the end of Chapter I we contrasted two possible views of the present human condition and the prospects for the future. Obviously, the spectrum of opinion on this most important of issues is continuous and not confined to two well-defined camps. Nevertheless, it is helpful, after struggling with the enormous body of principles, data, estimates, and arguments considered in the intervening chapters, to try to summarize some of the essential points by referring again to two distinct camps. We call them cornucopians and neo-Malthusians.
Cornucopians are often preoccupied with the apparent theoretical capacity of Earth to supply a large (but fixed) population with basic raw materials over long spans of time. They refer to the vast stores of minerals available at low concentration in seawater and in the first few miles of Earth's crust, and they argue that cheap and abundant energy from fission breeder reactors or controlled ther-