Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources?

Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources?
Fix, Blair. (2020). Working Papers on Capital as Power. No. 2020/05. July. pp. 1-22. (Article - Working Paper; English).

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In the distant future, aliens come to Earth. They find a planet devoid of life. Looking closer, the aliens see that life on Earth was once abundant, but was wiped out by a mass extinction. Curiously, this event was driven not by geological disaster, but by one of the extinct species itself. In an orgy of consumption, an odd little animal put the planet under enough stress to drive itself — and the rest of life — extinct.

Then comes a startling discovering. Preserved in the sediment lies a document written by a member of the doomed species. What secrets does it contain? The aliens work for years to translate it, hoping that it offers a clue about what drove the species to overconsume. And indeed it does. The document heralds a remarkable delusion: “The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources.”

What a naive animal, the aliens conclude. While sucking the planet dry, the animal proclaimed its independence from natural resources. No wonder it went extinct.

In this article, I discuss how economists reached such bizarre conclusions. And I offer some thoughts about the role that resources actually play in sustaining human societies.



Publication Type

Article - Working Paper


growth energy natural resources neoclassical economics property


BN Production
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Crisis
BN Ecology & Environment
BN Growth

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

12 Jul 2020 14:54

Last Modified

18 Jul 2020 15:25


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