Global Scarcity

AEB 2451: Economics of Resource Use Lecturer: Misti Sharp

Assignment 8: Global Scarcity

Instructions: Unlike previous assignments, this assignment is an individual assignment!!! Do not wait until the last minute to do this assignment as it will likely take longer than you think it will. An electronic copy must be submitted online before midnight on Friday. This homework is worth 15 points total.

In this assignment, you are tasked with writing a 2 page (12 point font, double spaced with in-text citations) essay on the earth’s carrying capacity. You may choose between two essay options:

Option 1: Write an essay about the earth’s carrying capacity comparing the historical perspectives provided by Hardin (1968) to more recent articles on the issue by Peters, et. a. (2016) and O’Neill, et. al. (2018). In writing your essay, be sure to talk about the big messages presented by each article and the implications. You needn’t understand the methods in the modern articles to do this essay! You will be graded on your ability to concisely summarize the articles provided and compare the historical emphasis versus the current emphasis. In a final paragraph, discuss where you think we, humanity, are going from here.

Article Information:

Hardin, G. (1968) “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science, Vol. 48, ( December 13, 1963, pp 1243-1248.

Peters, C.J., J. Picardy, A. Darrouzet-Nardi, J. Wilkins, T. Griffin, and G. Fick (2016). “Carrying Capacity of U.S. Agricultural Land: Ten Diet Scenarios.” Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, Vol. 4, ( Doi: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000116, July 22, 2016, pp 1-15

O’Neill, D., A. Fanning, W. Lamb, and J. Steinberger (2018) “A Good Life for all Within Planetary Boundaries.” Nature Sustainability. Vol 1 (, Februrary 5, 2018, pp. 88-95.

Option 2: Write an essay comparing two popular news articles (Nordhaus 2018) and (Heinberg 2018) on Cornucopian versus Malthusian perspectives. In your essay, identify which viewpoint is Cornucopian and which is Malthusian. Discuss specific evidence to each viewpoint in your essay. You will be graded on your ability to demonstrate a thorough reading of each article and on your ability to summarize the points made. In a concluding paragraph, discuss your own viewpoint on the issue and whether or not your opinion was changed after reading these articles.

Article Information:

Nordhaus, T. (2018) “Earth’s Carrying Capacity for Human Life is not Fixed.” AEON, July 5, 2018. (

Heinberg, R. (2018) “Ted Nordaus is Wrong: We are Exceeding Earth’s Carrying Capacity.”, July 26, 2018. (


Addressed the core essay requirements with full support 8 points
Your concluding viewpoint is given and well supported 4 points
Formatting (2 pages, 12 point font, in-text citations, spelling and grammar) 3 points

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