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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 434 of Deirdre N. McCloskey’s pioneering 2010 volume, Bourgeois Dignity [2] (footnotes omitted):

The environmental left has now worshipfully adopted Malthus, not on fresh scientific evidence but on the mathematical “logic” that “resources” “must” be limited.  (Such evidence-free logic, requiring no wearisome study of the social sciences or of social facts, might explain why a mechanical environmentalism appeals to so many physical and especially biological scientists.)  Forget about Marx, says the new left of 2010.  Hurrah for Malthus.

Since 1798, however, the evidence has been no kinder to the clever priest-economist Malthus than to the clever philosopher-journalist-economist Marx.  The economic historian Eric Jones notes that “economic history provides the antidote to the assumption that there is a static and readily exhaustible resource base.”  Yet the “fears of these kinds are hydra-headed and astonishingly resistant to contrary evidence.”  The new environmental left has ignored the overwhelming evidence that incomes depend on human creativity, not on natural resources, that innovation has unleashed creativity in resource-poor places like Japan or Hong Kong, and that the resulting high incomes generate a supply of and a demand for a better environment.

The quotations from Eric Jones are from Jones’s 2003 article “Natural Resources: Historical Overview,” which is a chapter in Joel Mokyr, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History [3] (2003).