Overpopulation has long been a favorite concern of doomsayers, but analysis of a few key long-term trends puts this anachronistic fear to bed. The Breakthrough Institute took a look at the data, and found the Malthusian dread wanting.In the 1960s, the notion of a “Population Bomb” terrified the world’s best and brightest, and kicked off what has become a pernicious and increasingly unfounded belief that humans would continue to grow exponentially until they outstripped the natural resources supporting them, leading to a massive die-off unrivaled in scope. Sounds scary, right? But since its peak in the late 1960s, population growth has steadily declined.Moreover, humanity has since then repeatedly proven its remarkable ability to innovate, to think of new ways to do more with less. Energy efficiencies have steadily increased, and new technologies (like desalination, or the ability to make a farm out of a desert). As the Breakthrough Institute reports, technological progress means the world’s carrying capacity—its ability to support human life—is no fixed variable:
It is sometimes suggested that there are hard biological limits to how much food the Earth can produce, but ever since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago humans have been consistently increasing yields through the use of new technologies. Indeed, it has been increasing yields that have allowed the human population to grow to its current population of seven billion. In this sense, the Earth’s carrying capacity is not bound by a finite set of planetary boundaries, but rather is a function of human technology. [Emphasis added]
Read the whole thing. It’s more dirt on Malthus’s grave, and injects some much-needed optimism in to our future outlook. Yes, there are plenty of environmental concerns that still need to be addressed, and yes, we still haven’t perfected a balance between sustainability and growth. But we’re making progress, and it isn’t thanks to the ascetic greens who purport to have the planet’s best interest at heart. It’s the creative minds who will keep the Earth producing.