Technology in Helping the Problem of Resource Scarcity

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A recurring theme in economics has been the economic growth fueled by an increasing consumption of finite resources that ultimately results in those very same resources unable to cope with its greater productive use. Resources here are any essential inputs to the economic process and are restricted to energy carriers, products of photosynthesis and other industrial raw material extracted from the natural environment. Such a practice is unsustainable and instigates the need for resource innovation so as to figure out how to generate growth with fewer resources. Much of economics runs around this one basic problem of resource scarcity and the aim of this paper is to emphasize on how human beings have created technologies or developed innovative methods to meet the challenges of limited resources available. More specifically this paper will review how technological innovation has made the problem of resource scarcity less onerous. The notion of scarcity as a constraint on economic growth goes all the way back to Malthus. (Malthus 1798, 1946).Only in recent decades has scarcity been seen as a driver of innovation and thus a driver of economic growth. There have been actual instances of resource scarcity and even exhaustion usually limited to a particular resource or country.

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The severity of allocations can be enough to create social unrest and even violent conflict. In this way the little amount of stable institutional and policy environment needed to attract investments in innovation is disrupted coupled with the disruption of efficient and sustainable management that would have created the rents need to encourage long-term investment in innovation. Any resource crisis that does occur, its impact will be felt first and foremost by the poorest sectors of the population, for instance should a water crisis occur its impact would fall upon those that are dependent for their livelihoods on rain-fed or irrigated water in arid and semi-arid regions, where 52% of the world’s population lives (UNESCO-WWAP, 2006). Simply put poor countries such as our own will fail to achieve higher rates of growth because they fail to generate or use new technological ideas to reap greater economic opportunities. The possibility of technological innovation based solutions might not even be considered as increased scarcity often gives birth to competitive action by powerful elite groups and narrow social coalitions to defend their interests or to profit from the scarcity through “rent-seeking” behavior (Barbier& Homer-Dixon, 1999).

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Chavas, J. P. & Aliber, M. & Cox T. L.(1997, August). The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. & Homer-Dixon, T. F. (1999, March). Mirza, U.K. & Maroto-Valer, M.M. & Ahmad, N. (2003, December). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp. Stelzer, R. S. & Kashian, D. R. (2014, June). Freshwater Science, Vol.

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