Black Gold or Devil’s Excrement?

This article was William White’s response to the question posed by the editors of The International Economy to a panel of economists. It was published in the Fall 2023 edition of the magazine. White notes (page 6) that a country endowed with natural resources is “blessed” but that poor governance can turn that blessing into a resource curse. Similarly, the whole world has been blessed until recently with ample natural resources, especially fossil fuels, but going forward very different circumstances will prevail. Adapting to climate change implies threats to production capacity, of food in particular. Mitigating climate change implies restricting the use of otherwise available energy sources and their costly replacement. Adapting to these changed circumstances poses threats to both economic and political stability.