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Jason Holliston
Friday, July 18, 2003  
From the "The Sky Is Falling!" Department

This CNN article (thanks to Reason's Hit and Run) covers a new concern from the United Nations Environmental program: China "catching up" with Western society in regards to GDP and consumer consumption. Here's the money quote:

[Klaus Toepfer] said that if China had the same density of private cars as, for example Germany, it would have to produce 650 million vehicles -- a target that environmentalists say the world's supply of metal and oil would be unable to sustain.

Has this guy ever taken basic economics? Ok, what happens if there's more demand for anything that outstrips the supply? That's right; the price is adjusted by market forces. That's the magic of capitalism, my friends. So, let's say 650 million screaming Chinese wanted a shiny new SUV, but there wasn't enough sheet metal to make them and enough oil to power them? The likely scenerio is the affordable alternatives would fulfill the demand, as usually the case.

Scarcity of metal could be replaced by an abundance of hemp-based plastics. Scarcity of oil could be replaced by batteries, whose source of electricity is controlled fusion. The point is that if there's a demand, there will always be smart, inventive people trying to fulfill that demand. The solution will not come from the U.N. demanding that Western societies scale back our consumption and "make room" for the new guys, but from letting the market do what the market does best.

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