It is currently estimated that there is, or there will be shortly, six billion humans inhabiting the planet earth 1. The theme of population, and more specifically, overpopulation has been in the popular mind for the last thirty years or more.
Share via Email The eyes have it: Science Photo Library Insix years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring - the book regarded as marking the beginning of modern environmental consciousness - a young American entomology professor at Stanford University, California, published The Population Bomb.
The tenor of Paul Ehrlich's book echoed the revolutionary sensibility and pervasive anxiety of the time. In it, Ehrlich and his wife, Anne, presented a neo-Malthusian scenario of imminent population explosion and ensuing disaster.
At this late date, nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate The left saw it as immoral, and feared that the right would use the idea of overpopulation to promote only the right kind of social or ethnic bloodlines. The right worried that population control might limit the rights of individuals.
And virtually every one objected to the discussion of human reproduction as a condition of food and habitat as if discussing, say, a population of fruit flies.
Forty years on, the message from Ehrlich, now 76 and the Bing A neo malthusian of population studies in the department of biological sciences at Stanford, has barely mellowed. He and his wife have just published a new book, The Dominant Animal, the central theme of which is how one species, Homo sapiens, has become so powerful that it can significantly undermine the Earth's ability to support much of life.
It is undeniably timely as we lurch from one grim realisation to another: And underlying them all is the issue of population. When Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, there were 3.
But it's a discussion that's open to distortion on one side by fringe groups who use the issue as cover for positions on race and immigration, and on another by superstitious thinking that technology will arrive to support and improve living standards for ever greater numbers of people, or that some kind of natural phenomenon - such as a disease, perhaps with a moral or spiritual component - will take the problem out of our hands entirely.
Obviously, if the US still had the million people we had at the end of the second world war we wouldn't be dependent on foreign oil, and we'd be emitting far less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Except for some developing countries, the globe was not racked by food shortages through the s because advances in farming and technology were able to sustain larger populations.
Inenvironmental studies was still fringe science. The intervening years have seen not only a boom in the field, but also in the variety and breadth of the issues at hand.
Reiterating what environmental scientist James Lovelock stated recently, Ehrlich says: The charm and the curse of the population debate is that one must inevitably return to the subject of fruit flies. When a female finds a pile of rotting bananas, she lays her eggs and the population explodes.
When the bananas are used up, the population crashes. Some females find another pile of fruit, and the process starts over. Entrenched The issue of consumption, Ehrlich believes, may be more thorny even than population. So entrenched is the culture of consumption, that debate in the US tends reflexively to skip over the question of curbing domestic energy use and carbon emissions to the question of how to curb growing Indian and Chinese pollution.
For example, Ehrlich says, "we don't pay our share of the US military budget that goes to keeping the flow going, and we don't pay for the treatment for cancers caused by the particulates from burning fossil fuels. We don't pay the full costs of our behaviours.
We're only 40 years into it. The trouble is, the environment has been going downhill far faster.According to both Malthusian and neo-Malthusian population theory, it is the Japanese, not Africans, who should be suffering and living in abject poverty.
Indeed, if we compare the countries of Africa (the poorest countries in the world) with the U.S., Japan and the other G7 Countries (the wealthiest countries in the world), the Malthusian.
Neo-Malthusian – Designating, or pertaining to, a group of modern economists who hold to the Malthusianism doctrine that permanent betterment of the general standard of living is impossible without decrease of competition by limitation of the number of births.
(2) SOURCES: 1. Sep 09, · Stories about the debate over resources between optimists (Cornucopians) and pessimists (neo-Malthusians) often start with the famous wager between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon over whether or.
Neo-Malthusians believe we may still be heading for some kind of population crash. Ever since Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in , positing incorrectly that humans’ proclivity for procreation would exhaust the global food supply within a matter of decades, population growth has been a hot button issue among those contemplating humankind’s future.
A Malthusian catastrophe (also known as Malthusian check or Malthusian spectre) is a prediction that population growth will outpace agricultural production – that there will be .
What Is the Malthusian Theory of Population? Thomas Malthus' theory of population proposed that, while the human population grows exponentially, food production grows arithmetically. Hence, at some point humans might face having too few resources to survive.
Malthus believed that controlling.