Defusing the Population Bomb
The Gray Lady Falls For the Malthus Trap
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  • qet

    Malthus, Marx, Keynes, Friedman–plus ca change.

  • Ronald Whitehead

    Malthus could still be right. When rich statists turn food production to green energy production (corn ethanol) people starve.

  • Eliza Qwghlm

    Would you expect managers & editors who inherited their position and wealth to truly understand the human ability to innovate?

  • Breif2

    “Malthusianism is what you get when intellectuals lose touch with
    humanism, and forget just how creative and remarkable human beings are.”

    Intellectuals such as me and you are obviously highly creative and remarkable, but we hardly balance out those teeming hordes [shudder].

  • Nick Bidler

    Always note: it’s never ‘us’ who are discouraged from breeding (though this is just and right, of course), but always dark people from far-off places who should tamp down life or hope for a better tomorrow. They’re doing nothing to make sure these finite resources last for as long as we can make them, for those who can make the most of that time (educated right-thinking sorts, like, I don’t know…).

    In short, false virtue is the thing I hate most.

  • Jagneel

    Yeh. But creative ones are not the ones that are doing much of the breeding.

  • It’s important to remember that you can still have a Malthusian trap with a positive rate of technological innovation. If innovation makes the food supply increase, population tends to increase at some fixed rate, irrespective of whether the food supply increase was small or large. If the food supply increase was small, then population outstrips it and crashes (although it usually stabilizes at a slightly higher number, reflecting the slightly better food yield). But if technological increase can manage to keep the food supply growing faster than the population, then there’s no crash. It’s all just a system of differential equations.

    The good news is that the rate of increase in innovation appears to be dependent on both the existing base of technology and the size of the population, so we can hope that it will continue to increase. But Malthus can return at any point; the rate of population increase is also dependent on the population. If population increase outstrips innovation at any point, you get a Malthusian crash. After that, you get to find out whether you’re back in the trap or not.

  • Louis1453

    Why is everyone talking and writing about Malthus without ever having read his work? Here’s the relevant quote:
    “The power of the earth to produce subsistence is certainly not unlimited, but it is strictly speaking indefinite; that is, its limits are not defined, and the
    time will probably never arrive when we shall be able to say, that no further labour or ingenuity of man could make further additions to it.”

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