7 billion – will a 213 year old economic treatise come true?

31 Oct 2011

Billions and Billions Served.....

As reports about the 7 billionth person on the planet being born spread, it seems worth noting that in 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus made a dire prediction about population growth and famine.  Is Malthus relevant today? 

I didn’t study Malthus in college and when noted at all, “Malthusian” is used as an adjective for a pessimistic prediction of humanity doomed to starvation via overpopulation.  His point, as I understand it, is that population grows geometrically and food production grows arithmetically.  Therefore,  at some point Malthus projected that the population will outstrip the ability of the world’s resources and technology to feed them, resulting in inflation and a difficult process of allocating resources.

Factor in the global climate change and the recent economic crises and we already see some of Malthus’ projections in some parts of the world.  Will (somewhat) unchecked population growth make Malthus a household name after 200+ years?  Time will tell.

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