[E]nergy is not life, but a prerequisite for it, and life is insatiable for it.
– Bernd Heinrich, American zoologist, professor, and author
Civilization and profit go hand in hand.
– Calvin Coolidge, American President
In his book Economics on Trial, American economist Mark Skousen defined Economics as, “the study of how individuals transform natural resources into final products and services that people can use.”
Skousen’s definition is problematic for the purposes of this book [Caveman Economics, in process], which proposes to illustrate economic principles by imagining a prehistoric world at the dawn of our species. For in such a world, natural resources do not yet exist. Natural materials exist, but they do not become natural resources until they are combined with knowledge. Such knowledge came only after thousands of years of trial and error—trial and error in a world in which error often resulted in death.…
“The Industrial Revolution did not cause hunger, poverty and child labor. Those were always with us. The Industrial Revolution helped to eliminate them.”
MasterResource from time to time has updated our readership on the significant work being done at HumanProgress (Cato Institute). Marian Tupy, founder and editor, is continuing the tradition of Julian Simon (1932–1998). It was Simon who described energy as “the master resource,” the inspiration for this blogsite.
Recently, Tupy penned his thoughts about the importance of energy to human advancement—and mineral energies to energy. His 1,500-word post follows in its entirety.
What is the role of the Industrial Revolution in general and fossil fuels in particular in bringing human improvement? Those readers who are familiar with Alex Epstein’s excellent The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels will recognize the gist of my argument: fossil fuels, which drive, among other things, modern agriculture and industrial production, make present-day abundance possible.…
“In a Lockean world, mineral rights do not accompany surface rights in either original or transferred ownership. Minerals would not be owned until homesteaded by the acts of discovery and intent to possess. In the case of oil and gas, initial ownership would occur when the oil or gas entered the well bore and was legally claimed by the driller.”
In Oil, Gas, and Government: The U.S. Experience (Cato Institute: 1996), my discussion of the development of first title to oil and gas deposits, as well as government intervention at the wellhead, covered three chapters (pp. 57–221). To my regret, I did little to turn the major takeaways of these chapters into shorter pieces for greater reach and impact. Even today, some of those who are familiar with my argument have encouraged me to publish in this area.…