Time for a Malthusian comeback?



It is amazing that 200 years after the death of Thomas Malthus, the great demographer, that scientists and politicians are strangely silent on the subject of overpopulation. Surely there is nothing more important than reducing population when the world is beginning to suffer from the burden of so many people. The chief insight of Malthus was that people were better at reproducing than feeding themselves. I’m sure this will reign true in 2050 when we can expect nine billion people on planet earth.

Malthus has presented two ways of looking at population reduction. He used the words misery and vice. Today we surely don’t want the misery of war, epidemics, disasters and famines to control population. That leaves only vice for consideration. Malthus was an Anglican minister and that is probably why is used the term vice for abortion and contraception. To this day the term is still used by the Republican party in the U.S., who seemingly want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. The Democratic party opposes this maneuver, but has received much criticism from the Catholic Church for doing so. (A. Einstein has spoken of this Catholic opposition.) It is hard to see how this matter can be resolved, but it must be resolved in order to provide food, furnish living space, and have a reduction in environmental pollution. Perhaps in the future an edict will have to be proclaimed to make it illegal to oppose some birth control methods.

Malthus should be considered a great historical figure for his contribution to a very important aspect of demography. As I understand it, the world is set to make a Malthusian comeback.

Roy Standiford

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