Casaubon's Book

I’m a day late with Nate Hagen’s piece, but I just have to link here – it has a beauty and elegance I really admire, and Id do wish him the very best of luck in his new venture. In fact, I’m starting to think that maybe I can cash in too!

OK – here it is in a nutshell – though I used to think the main problem with economic theory was that it ignored biology on the demand side and ecology on the supply side, I now see the reality is that neither biology nor ecology has incorporated enough economic theory. Basically, my efforts at falsification of positive economics even down to the day to day micro level have come up wanting. There are more people, more wealth, more stuff and more novelty in the human sphere of influence then ever before. After all humans are separate from and above all others in the animal kingdom and as such adhere to different rules. . The physics of money works – Malthus and Odum RIP. My friend George Gilder said it best:

‘The United States must overcome the materialistic fallacy the illusion that resources and capital are essentially things which can run out, rather than products of the human will and imagination which in freedom are inexhaustible.’ –George Gilder

And here are some quotes from a few other books Ive had the opportunity to read after spending less time on TOD that have had an influence on me:

‘The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources– Robert Solow – Nobel Prize winner in Economics – ‘The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics.’ Journal of Economic Literature 6 11. 1974.

and this book, which everyone at my school used to criticize, but I never had a chance to actually read the air-tight logic throughout the book until last Thanksgiving:

‘On average, human beings create more than they use in their lifetimes. It has to be so or we would be an extinct species. This process is, as the physicists say, an invariancy. It applies to all metals, all fuels, all food, all measures of human welfare. It applies in all countries. It applies in all times.’ Julian Simon and Norman Myers from “Scarcity or Abundance”? New York Norton. 1994. pp.133-134.

First, let me say that I’ve learned an amazing amount talking with energy and ecologically minded folk on this site – they (you) are truly a great bunch of people, though in the end, I think a bit misguided about resource depletion prospects. My key ‘aha’ moment was when I was in a conversation last year with new TOD contributor Art Berman discussing the amount of affordable unconventional natural gas in the US. He has (mostly convincingly) debunked the standard view that there are 100 years of natural gas remaining by hypothesizing that it will be extremely costly to produce. His, (and others) logic is then, that we won’t be able to procure this resource because consumers won’t be able to afford the $10, $15, $20 etc per mcf needed to pay the energy companies. But guess what – technology is getting better. But much more importantly, even were tech improvements to stagnate, we can print the money to pay for it.

I have seen the light too! I’m opening a new technology start up that will work to replace fresh water with a benzene-processed liquid substance that is almost as good as water. Anyone want to invest?



  1. #1 Rob Monkey
    April 2, 2010

    Hmm, sounds like you’re on your way to making “The Dip” from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A bit of turpentine and acetone and you too can murder adorable cartoons!

  2. #2 burs
    April 2, 2010

    i’ll invest! gimme a minute to print up some currency (of your choice and totally hypothetical, for the lurkers) and we’ll make the arrangements. maybe you can print some money off and whitewash an FDA report or two while your at it.

    good luck!

  3. #3 Vickey
    April 2, 2010

    “Has the electrolytes plants crave!”??

  4. #4 Jadehawk
    April 3, 2010

    I’m so in! I’ve already invested in Dr. Julian Simon’s groundbreaking idea of making copper from other metals, and this will be a great way to diversify!

  5. #5 Sarah
    April 3, 2010

    But much more importantly, even were tech improvements to stagnate, we can print the money to pay for it.

    Absolutely! Just as Robert Mugabe. He’ll tell you what a boon this method has proved for Zimbabwe.

  6. #6 vertalio
    April 3, 2010

    Hah! You losers in the Reality-Based Community now see the value in making things up.
    And not a moment too soon…it’s time to make some money off climate change, while there’s still a whole growing servant class ready to be exploited.
    Cabanas! Living organ donors! SPF 300! Climate-controlled caves!
    Mmm, the good life….

  7. #7 Heather
    April 4, 2010

    Oh NO! I got so suckered! In my defense, after a long family day on SUNDAY, with way too much wine, I’m winding down with a brief tour of my favourites….didn’t catch the significance of “a day late”, and I like to read the links before (your) Sharons, comments, so over i went, I leave it to your gleeful imagination to picture both my state of exhausted befuddlement, and the mounting horror and disbeleif as I read on….I didn’t even begin to twig til the sperm bank babies…ROFL, and SO releived, too!
    And a sixpack of extra chuckles for the previous commenters!

  8. #8 DerelictHat
    April 4, 2010

    I really really really want to believe that this is a parody of that style of thinking, blown out of proportion to point out how ridiculous it is. Sadly I know I am wrong, and no amount of facepalming will change this.

  9. #9 darwinsdog
    April 5, 2010

    “After all humans are separate from and above all others in the animal kingdom and as such adhere to different rules.”

    So has Nate finally learned enuf biology (a couple years ago he didn’t even know what ‘gonads’ are, thinking the term refers exclusively to the testes) & ecology in grad school that he can now parody the very sort of technocopian bull hockey the likes of Gail the Actuary, R^2, et al., routinely spouts on TOD, and that he used to actively & passively defend? For those who haven’t figured it out yet, Saunder’s & Summer’s website is basically designed to attract investment in various “green” industries on behalf of participating interests. Please keep this in mind when evaluating anything you read on TOD.

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