Jump to content
The Education Forum

Population Growth "Alarmism"

Recommended Posts

I never cease to be amazed that many weren't taught about Thomas Malthus in high school and/or college. His theories were given a special treatment in the schools I attended due to the significance of the impact they had on economic theories near the end of the 18th century and the impact they continued to have throughout the 20th century and continue to have even to this day.

I am also a bit mystified by the lack of recognition that his theories have greatly impacted the way we all think and act when it comes to survival. The influence that Malthus' theory has exerted in the fields of economics and sociology (particularly in justifying population control) isn't in question. In fact, Malthus' theories are as popular in economics circles as Isaac Newton's laws of motion are popular in physics circles.

The reason I bring this up is because it is an area that is extremely important.

Today we know that Newton's Laws of Motion are fundamentally sound and they are extremely useful to us. We also know that those laws "break down" as a "body of mass" approaches the speed of light, thanks to Albert Einstein's introduction of Special Relativity into the field of Physics.

So too, the principles in Malthus' theories appeared sound in 1798 when they were written, but after the extreme progress in the century following the Industrial Revolution we find that these "principles" also begin to "break down" as we approach an age where the socio-political-economic-industrial-agricultural world is traveling near the "speed of light" (to borrow the metaphor from Physics).

So, the point is this: That Malthus' theories shaped our world is not in question anymore than it is in question whether or not Newton's Laws of Motion have shaped our world. Both have done so to a degree that is both profound and subtle. Both have created the paradigm within which we all live.

When we couple Malthusian theory with Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest" concept, we observe a truly insidious world; a world in which only a MAD MAX type of character would thrive.

Once we understand that this "Malthusian/Darwinian" paradigm limits our ability to truly support the "human race" because of its inappropriately "catastrophic" view of population growth, we begin to move away from war and away from all things that are war-like, including the creation of offensive weapons.

Thomas Malthus' -- An Essay on the Principle of Population (written in 1798), says the following on page 5:

"...I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second. By that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal. This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind."

But, what happens when agricultural technology is improved to the point where food production becomes nearly "geometrically increas-able" and not just arithmetically? And what happens when education and birth control techniques are developed to a degree so that population growth can be self-controlled by the individual without war (read:genocide)?

Well, those two items have changed dramatically since 1798, but "we" as an Anglo-based culture have failed to recognize the change as a whole. Those in the highest levels of wealth and power have no reason to recognize the change--or so they think. The promotion of the "there's not enough to go around" myth serves the purpose of maintaining socio-economic inequality to the benefit of the "haves" and to the detriment of the "have-nots".

The rest of us have a moral obligation--to ourselves, to our children, to their children, and to our fellow men--to recognize this change so that we can embrace a new paradigm and shift away from the old. Not only will it be a more accurate world view as to what has evolved, but it will also be a much more pleasing world in which to live.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A1, Greg, imo.

an added dimension, imo, is a study of zpg in countries with a relative across the board equality and opportunity in education, health and career. It seems that in such societies a natural population stability is reached. This of course demands a wealth shift that afa I can see is not to the advantage of the elements seeking a concentration of wealth. It is much easier to ignore the cost in providing such for humanity and resort to the too many people notion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love a good rant as much as the next guy but 'do any fries go with that shake'? I.E. do you have any data to back your claims. What about water for drinking, agriculture, hygiene etc which is becoming increasingly scarce and costly to extract from ocean water/sewage etc? What about the environmental effects of intense agriculture? Do you think 10 billion people on Gaia is sustainable? what about 20?

What is the basis for your assumption "the "there's not enough to go around" myth serves the purpose of maintaining socio-economic inequality to the benefit of the "haves" and to the detriment of the "have-nots"."?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...