Our planet is a fixed size: it’s not getting any bigger. Our resources are finite. There’s only so much water, crops and meat available.
But there are more and more of us – people – on earth now than ever before. This is unlikely to change, and all these people need to be fed, clothed and watered. Thinking about how this will affect the world is an increasingly important part of economics. The main figure in any economic discussion of the environment is Thomas Malthus – who is the centrepiece of this lesson.
Despite all the talk of wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower, the largest energy sources in the world today are still fossil fuels – a situation that is likely to remain the same for many years. In this lesson, we examine the economic impact of fuels like oil – how shocks, like the 1970s oil embargo, create huge short and long term effects on the wider world.