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Bertrand Russell on natural resources, oil and nuclear energy Stampa E-mail

In his 1948 lecture "Control and Initiative: Their Respective Spheres", which was broacast by BBC in 1949, Bertrand Russell spoke about natural resources, oil and nuclear energy with remarkable prescience:

"I come now to my third head: conservation. Conservation, like security and justice, demands action by the state. I mean by ‘conservation’ not only the preservation of ancient monuments and beauty spots, the upkeep of roads and public utilities, and so on. These things are done at present, except in time of war. What I have chiefly in mind is the preservation of the world’s natural resources. This is a matter of enormous importance, to which very little attention has been paid. During the past hundred and fifty years mankind has used up the raw materials of industry and the soil upon which agriculture depends, and this wasteful expenditure of natural capital has proceeded with ever-increasing velocity. In relation to industry, the most striking example is oil. The amount of accessible oil in the world is unknown, but is certainly not unlimited; already the need for it has reached the point at which there is a risk of its contributing to bringing about a third world war. When oil is no longer available in large quantities, a great deal will have to be changed in our way of life. If we try to substitute atomic energy, that will only result in exhaustion of the available supplies of uranium and thorium. Industry as it exists at present depends essentially upon the expenditure of natural capital, and cannot long continue in its present prodigal fashion."




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