Thomas Malthus argued that excess population growth is the ultimate cause of many of our social and environmental problems. Do you agree?


Yes, I do agree that even if we solve every other environmental problem, we remain doomed with the exponential growth of the human population. We are already outstripping the sustainable yield of our resources, and we have billions more people just now developing a taste for middle class American style consumption.

According to Malthus, “… the means of subsistence in any country is just equal to the easy support of its inhabitants. The constant effort towards population… increases the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. The food therefore which before supported seven millions must now be divided among seven millions and a half or eight millions. The poor consequently must live much worse, and many of them be reduced to severe distress. The number of labourers also being above the proportion of the work in the market, the price of labour must tend toward a decrease, while the price of provisions would at the same time tend to rise. The labourer therefore must work harder to earn the same as he did before… In the mean time the cheapness of labour, the plenty of labourers, and the necessity of an increased industry amongst them, encourage cultivators to employ more labour upon their land, to turn up fresh soil, and to manure and improve more completely what is already in tillage, till ultimately the means of subsistence become in the same proportion to the population as at the period from which we set out…” —Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter II, p19 in Oxford World’s Classics reprint.

It is hard to miss the present day corollaries of unemployment, net decrease in wages, the rise of commodity prices, and as a proximate result current workers are having to work harder to earn the same purchasing power as before. That disease, famine, etc serve to obscure the fundamental problem of over-population which overstretches the earth’s sustainable capacity. Malthus states, “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.” —Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter VII, p61

I think Malthus is exactly on-point, and given the lessons of history; the days of the American empire are surely numbered… and afterwards China will follow. By all indications China has not learned from US mistakes. All we have to do is look around the news channel and see the writing on the wall. Indeed, we live in interesting times. Sad, but interesting that when we save people from their local disasters, we bring ours in closer. Take Haiti, for example, in the short-term, they bring suit against the UN for their Cholera outbreak. See http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/8/exclusive_5_000_haitian_cholera_victims whereas Nepalese troops [who wouldn’t be there but for trying to save Haitian lives after the quake of Jan, 2010] would actually increase the long-term population problem by not allowing nature to takes its heartless course, despite the short-term loss of 5000 said Cholera victims.

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About stoneagerefugee

University Student and Vagabundo--A rice and beans and pico de gallo regular! with a world class room with a view and a classic reading collection.
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