Periodically, some analyst or another with more spare time than common sense puts out a report with an attention-grabbing headline about how the world is only X years away from running out of Y mineral. Case in point: the Wrong Way Corrigans at Goldman Sachs are estimating that the world has only 20 years of mineable gold left.

In a way, this is understandable; mines are depleting assets by their very nature, and mineral exploration is difficult, costly, and fails more often than not. Metals are called nonrenewable resources for a reason.

But this is like looking at the falling level of milk in the fridge, observing rising traffic congestion between home and the store, and concluding that the kids will have no more milk in 1.5 years, when consumption exceeds supply. This ignores the very real facts that things change—if not always in ways we can foresee—and that the cows are still out there.

It’s true that there is only a finite amount of any given mineral in the earth’s crust and that the cost of extracting it has been rising for years. It’s also true that the “low hanging fruit” of near-surface, high-grade gold discoveries are getting fewer and further between. This has prompted some analysts to declare Peak Gold, as we’ve discussed before.

Now here’s the thing: for decades, Hubbert’s Peak Oil prediction seemed correct, and we even went along, as far as light sweet crude was concerned; but the fracking revolution has changed everything. New technology has produced a new flood of light sweet crude, slamming the brakes on development of many heavy oil, oil sands, and other nonconventional oil deposits.

Won’t even this new supply run out? It’s nonrenewable, after all.

Well, it might, but then another technological breakthrough could upend the business again. At the end of the day, hydrocarbons are very simple chemicals, made of some of the most common elements in the universe. Even when we burn them as fuels—which we’ll be doing less and less of in decades to come—the atoms aren’t destroyed, so they can be recombined and burned again and again. With the right technology, oil supply is practically infinite.

The same is true for metals. Yes, most recycling is prohibitively expensive, but the metals are not destroyed when used—even the insignificant bits we toss into space are still out there. Extraction and recycling costs may rise, but as the saying goes, low prices are the cure for low prices. One recent report, for instance, estimates that the world needs only about half of current copper projects in development to meet demand.

We’re not running out of anything—and new technologies can and will redefine what’s considered “low hanging fruit.”

As with hydrocarbons, so with metals: as new energy technologies drive costs down, the supplies are practically unlimited. With enough energy, there’s really no such thing as a nonrenewable resource.

This brings us to gold, which is a special case, being a singularly unreactive metal. That’s why it’s been used in dental work. Gold’s unique properties (durable, divisible, consistent, convenient, has intrinsic value, and can’t be printed by profligate governments) are what have made it the most successful and enduring form of money ever devised. This is why it’s different from other commodities and why most of the gold ever mined is held in vaults and jewelry cases, rather than ending up in landfills.

Even the gold that’s “used up” is usually much easier to recover than other metals. There’s even new research suggesting that the solids produced by US sewage treatment facilities could be regarded as low-grade gold ore.

There is no case for Peak Gold when the supply of pure gold in easily tradable forms in private and public hands all around the world dwarfs mine supply almost to insignificance.

The practically unlimited, highly liquid supply of gold may seem alarming, especially when pundits who ignore the lessons of history proclaim that gold is a barbarous relic of no real value or consequence. However, economic stupidity, hatred and warfare, disruptive technologies, demographic changes, and even natural disasters are also unlimited in supply. Our world remains a dangerous and chaotic place, keeping all that liquid supply of gold from flooding the market.

The price of gold is really nothing more and nothing less than a barometer of financial fear.

So don’t get distracted by misleading headlines about mine supply and the world running out of gold. All you really need to know and track is the level of financial risk in the world—the whole world, not just the US or whichever country you happen to live in. Then remember that gold stocks offer leverage to the price of gold; rising or falling, you can speculate to win big if you call the trend right.

In our view, the trend of global financial chaos is clear, powerful, and enduring. We’ve placed our bets accordingly and encourage all readers to do the same.