The Fallacy of Finite Resources on Earth

Resources are not finite on Earth.

Because resources do not come from Earth.

It sounds counterintuitive, but I am quite convinced I am right. Please leave a comment if you think my thinking is faulty here though.

On a superficial level, when we talk of resources like oil, aluminium or copper, It seems clear that they are finite. There is clearly a finite amount of oil in the ground. Even if we include the undiscovered sources of oil on Earth, the number clearly is finite.

And clearly these resources come from the Earth. We drill holes deep in the Earth in order to find oil. We make great big mine pits to mine metals or rare minerals.

So my two statements sound dumb.

But where do resources actually come from?

Take oil for example. Oil has been in the ground in the form of fossil fuels for millions of years.

But why is it that no one used oil until the last few hundred years?

Because oil as a resource that is useful to human beings does not come from the Earth.

It comes from the human mind.

We can think of a phone as a resource. It is made up of many rare earth materials. But if we take that phone and gave it to a hunter-gatherer human being 100,000 years ago, what would they do with that phone?

They might use it to crush some herbs.

The resourcefulness of a phone disappears in the hands of an illiterate hunter-gatherer 100,000 years ago.

Nothing in the phone changed. Just the person using it.

Likewise with oil – nothing in the oil necessarily changed. The fossil fuel it comes from was sitting there for a long time.

It was the human ingenuity that saw a different possibility.

Therefore resources come not from the Earth. They come from the human mind.

Take another example. Aluminium.

During Napoleon’s time, aluminium was rarer than gold. IT was so rare that he made himself a very fine set of aluminium cutlery. He would boast this aluminium cutlery to guests that came round. They had never seen such a material.

But when the process of electrolysis was discovered. Aluminium became one of the most abundant materials on Earth.

It wasn’t because we suddenly found more aluminium buried under some rocks we didn’t look at before.

It was because of human ingenuity. Someone discovered the invention of electrolysis and was able to create an abundance of aluminium.

Resources come from the human mind.

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