"If it is very easy to substitute other factors for natural resources, then there is in principle 'no problem.' The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources, so exhaustion is just an event, not a catastrophe." -- Robert M. Solow (1974)Not all passages in that article are equally absurd. Who would object to the following:
"There is a limiting case, of course, in which demand goes asymptotically to zero as the price rises to infinity, and the resource is exhausted only asymptotically. But it is neither believable nor important." -- Robert M. Solow (1974)I think the above is consistent with Solow's later view of new growth theory. Much of such work is about the behavior of models when parameters are just so. If the parameters are shifted just a bit off the knife-edge, the model does not exhibit the behavior being emphasized.
I find Georgescu-Roegen intriguing, but maybe too advanced for me. As far as the economic analysis of finite stocks of a natural resource, I also like Paul Davidson's deployment of Keynes' concept of user cost for such analysis.
I have previously noted Georgescu-Roegen's severe criticism of Brown and Robinson's 1972 paper. I now provide a link below to that paper so you can consider yourself whether or not it is just idle mathematics.
Update: Lars Syll's now has a translation of his post, "Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and the Nobel Prize in economics".
- Donald J. Brown and Abraham Robinson (1972). "A Limit Theorem on the Cores of Large Standard Exchange Economies", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, V. 68, N. 5: 1258-1260.
- Paul Davidson (1979). "Natural Resources", in A Guide to Post-Keynesian Economics. M. E. Sharpe.
- Robert M. Solow (1974). "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics", American Economic Review, V. 64, Iss. 2: 1-14.