Kelvin on Coal

by Don Boudreaux on November 22, 2010

in Complexity & Emergence, Myths and Fallacies, Prices, Technology, The Future

Like so many great scientists, Lord Kelvin was no great economist – as is evidenced by this selection of a 1902 article of his in which he predicts that the world will run out of coal.  Clearly, he didn’t foresee problem-solving and creative entrepreneurs developing petroleum, hydroelectricity, and nuclear reactors as reliable sources of ever-less-expensive energy source.  Nor did Lord Kelvin understand the role of prices in conserving coal and in sparking new efforts for its exploration and extraction.

(P.S.  Please no notes informing me that Lord Kelvin’s scientific methodology was also flawed; I agree that it was.)

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