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Scarcity

Scarcity as an all-pervasive fact of our lives is dominant in academic and policy thinking. Indeed, climate change poses new challenges to resource availability for human survival. Water wars, famine, and oil threats regularly appear as news stories. Resource scarcity is linked with population growth and growing environmental conflicts, and science and technology or innovation is usually evoked as the appropriate “solution.” But what is scarcity? Why has blame been attributed to it for many of humankind's woes, for centuries? The scarcity postulate (i.e., that human wants are unlimited and the means to achieve these are scarce and limited) underpins modern economics. This entry discusses the legacy of the scarcity postulate and demonstrates how understandings of scarcity have largely been naturalized and universalized in a ...

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