… is from pages 88-89 of Arnold Kling’s splendid 2016 book, Specialization and Trade: A Re-introduction to Economics:
[Jesse] Ausubel points out that even as farm output and overall population have increased, use of water in the United States has actually declined since 1970. That change reflects greater efficiency in farming. (Ask your friends who proudly “buy local” whether they know how much water their local farmers used compared with the distant farmers from the supermarket imports produce.)
Generally speaking, in a market economy, the combination of incentives and human ingenuity has permitted the human population to grow with a reduction in the rate of resource use. By selling books in digital format, online retailer Amazon is letting us read more while using less paper; Airbnb is giving us more places to sleep without building hotels; and iTunes is allowing us to listen to more music without manufacturing records. We are not only leaving future generations with more know-how and more tools of production, we are also leaving them with more wilderness, more forest, and more vegetation.
DBx: What Arnold says.