Throughout much of history, a critical driving force behind global economic development has been the response of society to the scarcity of key natural resources. Increasing scarcity raises the cost of exploiting existing natural resources and creates incentives in all economies to innovate and conserve more of these resources. However, economies have also responded to increasing scarcity by obtaining and developing more of these resources. Since the agricultural transition over 12,000 years ago, this exploitation of new 'frontiers' has often proved to be a pivotal human response to natural resource scarcity. This book provides a fascinating account of the contribution that natural resource exploitation has made to economic development in key eras of world history. This not only fills an important gap in the literature on economic history but also shows how we can draw lessons from these past epochs for attaining sustainable economic development in the world today.
Edward B. Barbier is the John S. Bugas Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming. He has over twenty-five years' experience as an environmental and resource economist, working mainly on the economics of environment and development issues. He is the author of many books on environmental policy, including Natural Resources and Economic Development (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and, with David Pearce, Blueprint for a Sustainable Economy (2000).
List of figures; List of tables; List of boxes; Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction: scarcity and frontiers; 2. The agricultural transition (from 10,000 BC to 3000 BC); 3. The rise of cities (from 3000 BC to 1000 AD); 4. The emergence of the world economy (from 1000 to 1500); 5. Global frontiers and the rise of Western Europe (from 1500 to 1914); 6. The Atlantic economy triangular trade (from 1500 to 1860); 7. The golden age of resource-based development (from 1870 to 1914); 8. The age of dislocation (from 1914 to 1950); 9. The contemporary era (from 1950 to present); 10. Epilogue: the age of ecological scarcity?; Index.