Malthus was right!

Food production has actually outpaced population growth, so in that sense Malthus was wrong. He was unable to foresee the effects of science, technology, and economic development — all of which have enabled us to sustain a growing population by accelerating our consumption of natural resources.

SO even though he had no way of knowing that we’d be able to exploit our environment so thoroughly, Malthus’ rationale was right on the money.
We’ve been able to extract and consume nature, converting it to usable goods and wealth with expert efficiency, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t limits.

I find that people have heard the population statistic (2.5 billion in 1950 –> 6.5 billion in 2007) so often that it no longer phases them.

But how about this one: In order to produce all that extra food for said extra folks, there has been a doubling of irrigated areas and a tripling of water withdrawals across the globe (Source: International Water Management Institute)

By 2050 an additional 2.7 billion people — almost two thirds of whom will be in Asia — will need access to clean water. Where’s it going to come from? Doesn’t it seem like Malthus might have had a point?

Similar rant: I have several problems with market capitalism. But the main one is the fact that “income” and “profit” are specious terms that hide what’s really going on i.e. the conversion of value from one form to another. In this way, Marx (the other big M) was on the right track with his labor theory of value — but he wasn’t much of an ecologist. Turns out that value comes from the biosphere, not from the energies of any particular species within it.

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3 Responses to “Malthus was right!”

  1. William Bruntrager Says:

    Testable hypothesis.

  2. The Zero-Sum Fallacy « William’s Continued Adventures Says:

    […] -”Malthus was Right!“ […]

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