Disturbances of ecological equilibrium have always been conceived as creating difficulties for man, as imposing added costs on his efforts to wring a satisfactory life from a reluctant nature. But there seems to be no inherent reason why this should always be the case. What we observe and take account of is the adverse effects: increased erosion and flooding due to deforestation, dust bowls due to overgrazing, and so on. What we seldom note or record is the spread of deltas and cultivable flat lands, the possibly favorable effects for some areas of induced climatological changes that may be unfavorable for others.
The resource problem is one of continual accommodation, adjustment, to an ever changing economic resource quality spectrum. The physical properties of the natural resource base impose a series of initial constraints on the growth and progress of mankind ... But the resource spectrum undergoes kaleidoscopic change through time, with every turn of the crank of history providing a new pattern. Substitutability—the result of man's technological ingenuity and organizational wisdom—offers those who are nimble a multitude of opportunities for escape. The fact of constraint does not disappear, it merely changes character. New constraints replace the old.
—Chandler Morse and Harold J. Barnett in Natural Resources and Economic Growth.