Energy/Resources Long timeframe to solving energy needs

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Northwestern Debate Institute

2011 SSP Neg


Long timeframe to solving energy needs

Foust 8 - editor of the Space Review (Jeff, “Energy vs. space”, The Space Review, 7/14,

Another common response, of course, is to cite the promise of space solar power (SSP). And, indeed, SSP could go a long way towards solving the nation’s energy woes—in theory. The problem is that even supporters of SSP acknowledge turning that theory into reality is still decades away, assuming that technological and financial obstacles can be overcome: little comfort for those feeling pain at the pump today. Moreover, others are less sanguine about SSP’s prospects (see “Knights in shining armor”, The Space Review, June 9, 2008).

No scenario for conflict --- resources are infinite–we’ll never run out

Geddes 4 (Marc, Writer and Libertarian Analyst, “The Monster Non-Socialist Faq”, February 12,

Answer: A significant disruption to supplies of critical resources can cause temporary problems, but in a free market, if resources start to become scarce, prices rise, leading to a search of substitutes and improved conservation efforts. The pool of resources is not fixed, because human ingenuity can find substitutes or new sources of resources. Supplies of most raw materials have been increasing throughout the 20th century, and the cost has been falling (See the entry on Natural resources). For instance, between 1950 and 1970, bauxite (aluminium source) reserves increased by 279 per cent, copper by 179 per cent, chromite (chromium source) by 675 per cent, and tin reserves by 10 per cent. In 1973 experts predicted oil reserves stood at around 700 billion barrels, yet by 1988 total oil reserves had actually increased to 900 billion barrels. Production of certain kinds of resources such as fossil fuels may finally be beginning to peak but there are renewable energy sources in development which can serve as substitutes. Simplistic thermodynamic analysis of energy production is misleading, because it's not the quantities of energy used or produced that determine economic value, but the utility, or usefulness if that energy to humans. If energy is being used more efficiently you don't need as much of it, and some forms of energy are more valuable than others- for instance kinetic energy in the form of wind power is less valuable than the same quantity of latent energy in the form of oil. Solar power is a virtually inexhaustible supply of new energy for stationary sources and the hydrogen fuel cell can serve for transportation in place of fossil fuels. Developing these technologies costs money, so to avoid resource shortages a good economy is essential. Libertarian capitalism is the system which generates wealth the fastest.

Technology will always increase resource availability

Simon ’96 Julian, Former Prof of Business Administration at University of Maryland and Fmr Senior Fellow at CATO, “The Ultimate Resource 2”, p. 30-31

The most important elements in raw-material price trends have been (1) the rate of movement from richer to poorer ores and mining locations, that is, the phenomenon of "exhaustion"; and (2) the continued development of technology, which has more than made up for exhaustion. Is the rate of development of such new technology slowing up? To the contrary: the pace of development of new technology seems to be increasing. Hence, if the past differs from the future, the bias is likely to be in the direction of understating the rate at which technology will develop, and therefore under-estimating the rate at which costs will fall. The fall in the costs of natural resources, decade after decade and century after century, should shake us free from the idea that scarcity must increase sometime. And please notice that current prices do not mislead us about future scarcities. If there is reason to judge that the cost of obtaining a certain re-source in the future will be much greater than it is now, speculators will hoard that material to obtain the higher future price, thereby raising the present price. So current price is our best measure of both current and future scarcity (more about this later).

Resource substitution and innovation solve

Krautkraemer 2005 [Jeffrey, Professor at University of Hawaii, Economics of Natural Resource Scarcity: the State of the Debate, April, Resources for the Future,]

The ability to substitute capital for a natural resource, then, is a critical question in the current scarcity and growth debate. It is relatively easy to find examples where capital can substitute for the use of a natural resource. For example, insulation and thermal pane windows reduce the energy needed to maintain indoor temperatures. The redesign of products like milk and beverage containers that allows the same services to be obtained with less material input can be seen to substitute human capital services for plastic and aluminum. New technologies can replace one resource with another more abundant resource, as fiber optics have replaced copper for telecommunications. The mix of goods produced in the economy can shift from more to less resource intensive commodities. The energy used to produce one dollar of gross domestic product was reduced by almost one-half in the United States between 1949 and 2000, with most of that reduction coming after 1970, although total energy use tripled as population doubled and per-capita GDP increased (Energy Information Agency 2002). World primary energy use per dollar of GDP has declined by more than 25% since 1970 (Smith 2002) and at an annual rate of 1.7% during the 1990s (Darmstadter 2002). The use of materials per unit of GDP has declined about one-third since 1970 (Wernick et al. 1996).

We can’t run out of solutions–discoveries always beget further questions that are always solved

Simon ’96 Julian Simon, Former Professor of Business Administration at the University of Maryland and Former Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute, “The Ultimate Resource 2”, 1996, p. 405-406

Some ask: can we know that there will be discoveries of new materials and of productivity-enhancing techniques in the future? Behind the question lies the implicit belief that the production of new technology does not follow predict-able patterns of the same sort as the patterns of production of other products such as cheese and opera. But there seems to me no warrant for belief in such a difference, either in logic or in empirical experience. When we add more capital and labor, we get more cheese; we have no logical assurance of this, but such has been our experience, and therefore we are prepared to rely upon it. The same is true concerning knowledge about how to increase the yield of grain, cows, milk, and cheese from given amounts of capital and labor. If you pay engineers to find ways to solve a general enough problem—for example, how to milk cows faster, or with less labor—the engineers predictably will do so. There may well be diminishing returns to additional inventive effort spent on the same problem, just as there are diminishing returns to the use of fertilizer and labor on a given farm in a given year. But as entirely new forms of technology arise and are brought to bear on the old problems, the old diminishing-returns functions then no longer apply. The willingness of businesses to pay engineers and other inventors to look for new discoveries attests to the predictability of returns to inventive effort. To obtain a more intimate feeling for the process, one may ask a scientist or engineer whether she expects her current research project to produce results with greater probability than if she simply sat in the middle of the forest reading a detective novel; the trained effort the engineer applies has a much greater likelihood of producing useful information—and indeed, the very in-formation that is expected in advance—than does untrained noneffort. This is as predictable in the aggregate as the fact that cows will produce milk, and that machines and workers will turn the milk into cheese. Therefore, to depend upon the fact that technical developments will continue to occur in the future—if we continue to devote human and other resources to research—is as reasonable as it is to depend upon any other production process in our economy or civilization. One cannot prove logically that technical development will continue in the future. But neither can one so prove that capital and labor and milk will continue to produce cheese, or that the sun will come up tomorrow As I see it, the only likely limit upon the production of new knowledge about resources is the occurrence of new problems; without unsolved problems there will be no solutions. But here we have a built-in insurance policy: if our ultimate interest is resource availability, and if availability should diminish, that automatically supplies an unsolved problem, which then leads to the production of new knowledge, not necessarily immediately or without short-run disruption, but in the long run.

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