Sam Bowman’s comments on the UK’s planning system feature in City AM

Deputy Director Sam Bowman’s comments on the UK’s planning system and housing crisis have featured in City AM:

Another suspected constraint on building is the planning system.

“The biggest supply constraints are to do with the planning system – both within London and around it. Constraints within London include density and height restrictions, and are administered at the borough level; constraints around London are primarily caused by laws that protect the Green Belt from development,” said Sam Bowman, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute.

Read the full article here.

‘Magna Carta did resist arbitrary oppression’ – Dr Eamonn Butler’s letter to the Daily Telegraph

Dr Eamonn Butler’s letter to the Daily Telegraph:

SIR – Lord Sumption calls Magna Carta a “turgid” document that has nothing to do with our libertarian tradition.
The Charter demands the re-assertion of property rights that Anglo-Saxon England enjoyed before the Norman Conquest. The limits it imposes on authority — preventing the King’s arbitrary confiscation of people’s property and freedom — guarantee those property rights. From that grows parliamentary democracy, since the rules of taxation and justice now require agreement based on debate.
The “law of the land” was much older and more fundamental than king-made law: it was the common law of the Anglo-Saxons, built up by the common people over centuries. Today Britain’s common law tradition is swamped by top-down Continental law. Lord Sumption is wrong to suggest that our libertarian tradition owes more to France than to Runnymede.
Eamonn Butler
Director, Adam Smith Institute
London SW1

Read the letter’s page here.

ASI monograph “The No Breakfast Fallacy” features in The Sun

New ASI monograph The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources has featured in The Sun:

The Adam Smith Institute is fighting back against claims we will freeze and starve to death if we do not switch to alternative energy and organic farming.

The free market think tank says environmentalists do not understand the oil and minerals industry, which keeps finding new sources that will be around for many thousands of years, and possibly for many millions. Tim Worstall, a rare earths expert and senior fellow, told The Sun: “We’ve got more in oil reserves than we can possibly burn without boiling Flipper.”

And on minerals, Worstall says in his report The No Breakfast Fallacy: “We are no more going to run out of usable minerals because we consume mineral reserves than we are to run out of breakfast because we eat the bacon the fridge.”

The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources argues that outcries over resource availability from environmentalist groups are based on a misinterpretation of numbers and a misunderstanding of what mineral resources actually are.

The monograph, written by Adam Smith Institute Senior Fellow and rare earths expert Tim Worstall, says that groups that have warned about the world running out of rare mineral resources, such as The Club of Rome, have been using the wrong sets of data, mistaking the exhaustion of mineral reserves for the exhaustion of mineral resources.

Press Release: The world is not running out of resources after all, says new report

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207

  • The world is not running out of valuable minerals; claims from environmentalist groups are based on a misunderstanding of industry terminology.
  • Reserves are only a measurement of the minerals we know we can mine and make usable in the near future. Mineral reserve numbers have nothing to do with how much of the actual element can eventually be recovered.
  • The reserves for minerals used in fertilizers, such as phosphate and potassium, may exhaust in the next few decades, but the exhaustion of resources is not estimated to occur until 1,000 – 7,000 years time.

The depletion of mineral reserves poses no serious threat to society, a new monograph published today by the Adam Smith Institute has concluded.

The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources” argues that outcries over resource availability from environmentalist groups are based on a misinterpretation of numbers and a misunderstanding of what mineral resources actually are.

The monograph, written by Adam Smith Institute Senior Fellow and rare earths expert Tim Worstall, says that groups that have warned about the world running out of rare mineral resources, such as The Club of Rome, have been using the wrong sets of data, mistaking the exhaustion of mineral reserves for the exhaustion of mineral resources.

Mineral reserves, the monograph explains, are simply the minerals that have been prepared for use for the next few decades; they are minerals that can be mined with current technology at current prices. Some reserves are going to run out in the near future, but this is a normal process. Every generation runs out of mineral reserves.

Mineral resources, however, refer to a concentration of minerals of a certain quality and quantity that have shown reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction. These are much larger than mineral reserves.

Organic farming, for example, may be a useful idea, the monograph asserts, but the idea that it is a necessity because we’re about to run out of inorganic fertilisers is based on a falsehood. The reserves for minerals used in fertilizers may exhaust in the next few hundred years, but the exhaustion of resources is not estimated to occur for 1,400 years for phosphate and 7,300 years for potassium.

The report concludes that efforts to conserve and/or recycle mineral resources are wasteful and often end up being net harms to society, by diverting economic activity from more productive uses.

Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute and author of the report, Tim Worstall, said:

We have a basic problem in our discussion of resource availability. Which is that most of the people in that discussion are grievously misinformed about what a resource is and how much of any of them we might have. It really is true that Paul Ehrlich, Jeremy Grantham, the Club of Rome, Limits to Growth and the rest are looking at the wrong numbers when they consider how much of any mineral or metal there is that we might be able to use.

This is not some arcane economic point. It is not some mystery explained only to the illuminati. Quite simply, most people assume that mineral reserves are what we have left that we can use. This is not so: mineral reserves are only what we have prepared for us to use in the next few decades. As such, it’s really no surprise at all that mineral reserves are generally recorded as being going to last for the next few years.

This book explains this simply enough that even a member of the Green Party should be able to grasp the point. We are no more going to run out of usable minerals because we consume mineral reserves than we are to run out of breakfast because we eat the bacon in the fridge.

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Kate Andrews, Head of Communications, at kate@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

To download “The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources”, click here.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.