Sat 25 Apr, 2015 11:49 am
For decades these Malthusian ideas have prompted developed countries to attempt to control the birth rates of third world countries, when the truth is, when child MORTALITY goes down, birthing rates also drop. Id est, population growth stagnates. People assume that poverty itself is caused by too many poor people. You might as well just say that tooth aches are caused by having too many teeth.
Of course the earth is a planet, ergo it has a finite amount of resources, space, surface area, etc, so we cannot say that population has no effect on resources and pollution. They do, but once again, this is a problem with the METHODS we as humans espouse to achieve our ends. Perhaps the reason we have too many tooth aches is because we don't have enough dentists, as opposed to too many teeth in the world.
The major problem with these Malthusian arguments is that they do not take into account the exponential growth of technological solutions that increase our ability to live comfortable lives. Pretty much every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new solutions to our problems. Steven Pinker, the Harvard Psychologist uses a great example to explain this particular phenomena:
"...for example, a hundred chemical elements, combined serially four at a time and in ten different proportions, can yield 330 billion compounds. If scientists evaluated them at a rate of a thousand a day, it would take them a million years to work through the possibilities. The number of ways of assembling instructions into a computer program or parts into a machine, is equally mind boggling. At least in principle, the exponential power of human cognition works on the same scale as the growth of the human population, and we can resolve the paradox of Malthususian disaster that never happened. None of this licenses complacency about our use of natural resources, of course. The fact that the space of possible ideas is staggeringly large does not mean that the solution to a given problem lies in that space or that we will find it by the time we need it. It only means that our understanding of humans' relation to the material world has to acknowledge not just our bodies and our resources, but also our minds."
No panic if you'd just keep it in your knickers....