Worried about an upcoming shortage of food and oil (and everything ELSE)? Being miserly won’t help.

Would the world be a better place if we could somehow curb our desire for material goods? Environmentalist Saleem Ali says “No.”

Take minerals: “The reality is, without minerals, we could not have had modern civilization,” he says, “That’s why we have ages named after them: Iron Age, Bronze Age. We simply could not have achieved those without minerals.”

And those achievements were largely produced by an innate desire for material goods. This treasure impulse, driven more by deep curiosity about deep places than by rudimentary needs, is engrained in human history. In fact, it’s part of human evolution. Ali argues that the treasure impulse, properly channeled and fairly regulated, can spur creativity, the desire for discovery, and economic development (which gives up much-needed jobs). He sees the current environmentalist urge toward self-denial, a minimalist lifestyle, and emphasis on trying to limit consumption as naive in many ways, including its negative impacts on the global poor, and says, “If you shut down trade, you will increase poverty whether you like it or not.”

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