Tribune. Humanity faces a multitude of challenges that some left-wing intellectuals deem insurmountable unless they "change their model". It is misunderstanding our current model and how it has allowed us to reach such a level of prosperity.
The Apostles of Decay teach us nothing by pointing out that the resources on which we depend are scarce and available in limited quantities. It is even the starting point of economic thinking. But these resources are not limited as it is common to think. In his Principles of Political Economy published in 1871, the economist Carl Menger was already anticipating the debate on decay when he wrote that "The quantities of consumer goods available to man are limited only by the extent of human knowledge of the causal links between things, and by the extent of human control over these things".
The ultimate resource is therefore human intelligence. This is why ardent defenders of degrowth offer a reductive vision of the economic problem by considering a given and known quantity of resources useful to man. According to them, our generation must choose between maximizing their quality of life to the detriment of future generations, and maximize their life expectancy as a species, to the detriment of the quality of life of all individuals of this species.
Humanity does not control its destiny
The development of society can not be reduced to this simple dualistic vision. We are not aware of all the resources available to us and how these resources can be used, which makes it impossible to legitimize a restriction on the standard of living of present generations. Especially since, contrary to what one can believe, the "supremacy of the market" does not lead to the irrational exhaustion of the resources. The price mechanism, both ignored and misunderstood, provides information on the scarcity of resources and the incentives needed to find alternatives when some are missing. This mechanism works so well that the metals of which the 1972 report for the Club of Rome (Limits to growth, known as the "Meadows Report") had predicted the disappearance are now present in greater numbers. Physically, the amount of metals in the soil has decreased, but as our knowledge has improved, today there are more resources available to us than yesterday.