Here’s the first one in my series of paradoxes in the economy:
The planets’ resources are under heavy strain. We’re already in overshoot mode, depleting resources faster than they can regenerate – and with billions of people eager to enter the ranks of global middleclass consumers, it looks increasingly hard to meet the mushrooming demand for food, energy, water and basic raw materials.
Yet, we may be entering an era of abundance. Nanotech and biotech are promising ways to build advanced products with incredible efficiency and precision. Genetically modified organisms will clean the air of CO2 and use it to produce oil, engineered organisms will clean water, provide rawmaterials, increase crop yields, eradicate diseases... 3D printers will only use the materials needed to print an object, and once we stop using that object, we can recycle it to print something else. Digital information will spread the best practices and knowledge everywhere. And generally, much of the value we create will be digital – and anything digital belongs naturally in the realm of abundance, where copies cost nothing to create and distrubute.
Is it scarcity or abundance? They are very different situations, but it’s hard to tell which one is real.