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Not destroying the earth… Surface Area

Hey kids! Do you ever wonder how we get all the things we use every day, like toys, clothes, and even the devices you’re reading this on? Well, we get all of these things from the earth, and the way we get them is by mining. Mining is when we take things out of the ground, like coal or iron, and then we use those things to make all of our stuff. And the principles from the school of Austrian economics guides us on how to use them in the most efficient way so that we don’t waste them.

How much area have we scratched?

Have you ever thought how big the earth is? It’s a pretty big place in fact the earth’s landmass is about 197 million miles squared. That’s a lot of space! But how much of that space do you think we use for mining? It’s only about 22,000 miles squared. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually only 0.011 percent of the earth’s surface.

That means we’re using a tiny part of the earth to get all the stuff to make all of our stuff. In fact, if the earth was the size of a soccer field, all of the world’s mines would only be the size of a small desk. Now that is tiny!

The importance of economic value

You might wonder why we’re not using more of the earth’s surface to get even more stuff? Well, it’s because of something called economic value. In Austrian economic theory, we believe that things only have value if people want them. For example, your favorite toy has value because you like to play with it. But it’s not so valuable to your grandmother because she’s not interested in playing with it.

The same is true for the things we get from mining. We only mine things that we use to make the things people want to buy. If people no longer want those things, then there’s no point in mining the resources needed to make them. And since we’re only using a small part of the earth to get the things people want, we haven’t needed to mine more.

The importance of Austrian economic theory

But what about the things people might want in the future? Well, that’s where the principles of Austrian economics come in. We believe that the market will tell us what people want by the things they buy. And the more they buy the more the price goes up. That’s the signal to mine more of the stuff to make the things people want to buy.

When prices go up, miners have a few choices to find more resources.

  • They can mine for more resources where they know they are.
  • They can look for more resources where they’ve never looked before.
  • The can invent new ways to get more resources more eifficently.

For example, if people started buying more gold jewelry, then the price of gold will go up. And when the price goes up, more miners will start looking for gold. They might start looking in new places they didn’t look before, and find new sources of gold that we didn’t know were there.

So, using only a small part of the earth’s surface for mining also means we’ve used a small amount of the earth’s resources. As people want more things, we’ve got plenty of resources to make them.


In conclusion, we haven’t scratched the surface of the earth’s resources because the earth is huge and we’re only using a very small part of it to get the stuff to make all of our stuff. And when people want more things, we’ll figure out new ways to get the resources to make them.

So kids, next time you play with your toys or read a book, remember that those things came from the earth, and that there’s still plenty more where they came from!

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