The point is not that the number of atoms (or molecules, or whatever other physical form or substance you wish to name) available on earth to human beings is not finite or unable to be enlarged. Of course these things are finite. Instead, the point is that “resources” is not, ultimately, a physical concept; it’s an economic concept. And to be limited physically is not necessarily to be limited economically.
What is and isn’t a resource is determined by human ingenuity. Likewise, human ingenuity determines how much “utility” – satisfaction; gratification; pleasure; relief-of-felt-uneasiness (call it what you will) – can be gotten at any moment in time from any given unit of physical stuff. As long as human ingenuiity is free to create, there is no necessary practical limit to the amount of any ‘natural’ resource that is available for humans to use productively.
Read the whole thing. Via On the Finiteness of Resources.