Economic growth also requires energy and raw materials, and these are finite. When and if they run out, the entire system will collapse. But the evidence provided by the past is that they are finite only in theory. Counter-intuitively, while humankind’s use of energy and raw materials has mushroomed in the last few centuries, the amounts available for our exploitation have actually increased.
At heart, the Industrial Revolution has been a revolution in energy conversion.
All human activities and industries put together consume about 500 exajoules annually, equivalent to the amount of energy earth receives from the sun in just ninety minutes.
Learning how to harness and convert energy effectively solved the other problem that slows economic growth – the scarcity of raw materials.