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Simon Abundance Index Confirms Julian Simon: Basic Commodities Much More Abundant Than 40 Years Ago

Human Progress

The Earth was 570.9 percent more abundant in 2019 than it was in 1980

Introduction: Last year saw the mainstreaming of a Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (Vhemt). According to its American founder who goes by Les U. Knight, “I’ve seen more and more articles about people choosing to remain child-free or to not add more to their existing family than ever.” He is right. In recent years, articles embracing the benefits of human extinction included The New Yorker magazine’s “The Case for Not Being Born,” NBC News’ “Science proves kids are bad for Earth. Morality suggests we stop having them” and The New York Times polemic “Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?” A CNN report on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services findings noted that “we must act now, consuming less, polluting less, having fewer children.” But are people really that bad for the planet?

In 2018, we co-authored a study titled, The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources. In that paper we looked at the prices of 50 basic commodities between 1980 and 2017. Counterintuitively, we found that resources have become more, not less, abundant. Our calculations confirmed the insights of the University of Maryland economist Julian Simon who observed in his 1981 book The Ultimate Resource that humans are intelligent beings, capable of innovating their way out of shortages through greater efficiency, increased supply and the development of substitutes. To arrive at our conclusions, we came up with four new concepts: Time Price Toolkit (i.e., time price, abundance multiplier, percentage change in abundance, compound annual growth rate in abundance and years to double abundance), Price Elasticity of Population, Simon Abundance Framework and Simon Abundance Index. […]

Conclusion: Julian Simon’s revolutionary insights with regard to the mutually beneficial interaction between population growth and availability of natural resources, which our research confirms, may be counterintuitive, but they are real. The world’s resources are finite in the same way that the number of piano keys is finite. The instrument has only 88 notes, but those can be played in an infinite variety of ways. The same applies to our planet. The Earth’s atoms may be fixed, but the possible combinations of those atoms are infinite. What matters, then, is not the physical limits of our planet, but human freedom to experiment and reimagine the use of resources that we have. To learn more, please visit

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