“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”, suggested Mark Twain. It’s an adage that our parents used – in my case coupled with ‘safe as houses’ for investment of your hard-earned cash.
But, the latter has sometimes been proven not to be true. The property market has lived up to that well-worn phrase – “your money can go up as well as down”. For the last few years we have seen price growth, but there is an inevitablity that there will be a correction. There has been in the recent past!
But Mark Twain’s suggestion is interesting. The premise is that land is finite resource. This is patently true at face value.
The Earth has 196.9 million sq miles of land mass on which live 7.125 billion people. That’s just less than 2 acres each. And a reminder that an acre was defined in the middle ages by the amount of land it took a man and an ox to plough in a day! Nowadays we tend to equate it to the size of a football pitch. That’s a lot of land for each of us.
But then you need to consider that ‘artificial surfaces’ cover less than 1% of the earths surfaces, crop land around 12.6%. And some of the land is in remote areas – the North and South poles are not easy commutes.
So it turns out Mark Twain may have been right technically – but the reality is that we don’t occupy a significant proportion of the earth. We don’t need to make any more land.
As to whether the earth can sustain us is, of course, another issue entirely. Probably not is the general consensus…