Bet 797

Duration 10 years (02019-02029)

“In 2029 US crop tonnage will be greater than it was in 2019 and less total cropland, fertilizer, and water for irrigation will be used for agriculture in the country in 2029 than in 2019.”

PREDICTOR
Andrew P McAfee

CHALLENGER
Unchallenged

McAfee's Argument

During the Industrial Era economies around the world grew rapidly. And as they grew, they used more year after year of the Earth’s resources: metals, minerals, fertilizers, trees, fossil fuels, cropland, and so on.

Then we invented the computer and its kin, and the pattern changed.

Hardware, software, and networks allow companies to use fewer materials as they produce more of their goods and services. Profit-seeking companies in competitive markets are eager to pursue these opportunities to dematerialize because they bring cost savings, and a penny saved is a penny earned. Dematerialization accumulates over time, and the economy as a whole eventually moves past “peak stuff” with respect to more and more resources.

The counterintuitive result is that capitalist, technology-intensive economies like America’s are now dematerializing across a wide range of resources, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Land costs money just as materials do, so cropland will also be reduced in the United States.

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