“On what principle is it that, when we look we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” Baron Macauley 1830:
Obviously everyone does not agree with Isaac Asimov and T.R. Malthus if they did our world would be a different place. The opposing argument is utopian and well articulated by Michael J. Kelly.
Why a collapse of global civilization will be avoided: a comment on Ehrlich & Ehrlich. by Michael J. Kelly Department of Engineering,
University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0FA, UK
We look from our own perspectives; Biologist (scientists) argue for restraint, they are studying the natural world, while economists (not scientists but theorists who base mathematical models on unproven and biased axioms) and engineers (useful and more like big kids than responsible adults) argue for continued growth as they profit from the natural worlds destruction.
Technologists who believe we will solve all of our problems due to our infinite capacity at problem solving are believers in the cornucopia theory
Technological progress has been impressive
~Watt’s steam engine; agricultural productivity: stopped windmills
~Electricity from steam turbines; lights, increased productivity
~Jet engines; reduced distance
~Semiconductor technologies; eliminated distance
~Genetic engineering: medicine and pharmaceuticals
~Fertilizers/Pesticides; green revolution
~Antibiotics; reduced level of infection, longer life expectancy
~Smart phone; from 20 bulky items no one had to one ubiquitous device
The cost has been high.
The technology question
The question is of course, will we reach a population bottleneck before we can;
a: reduce our population peacefully and naturally or
b: solve the problems of climate change, resource depletion, water depletion, ozone depletion, overcrowding, highway congestion, health care congestion, forest depletion, ocean acidification all while our rate of growth slows but the actual numbers continue to increase
But Malthus’s predictions have come to pass; repeatedly
Unfortunately we are not being spared from entering the end-times phase of overpopulation and starvation envisioned by Malthus. If you live in the Sudan, the Ukraine, Sub Sahara Africa, Rwanda you are feeling the most severe effects of overpopulation. If you are living in prosperous cities anywhere in the world you are feeling the inconvenience of overpopulation in the high price of food, housing, high rates of unemployment and despair; all things characteristic of a Malthusian collapse. In fact Malthus has been correct hundreds of times since the 1800’s when he wrote his thesis.
Malthus was making factual observations and it is unfortunate that the Economists and Engineers who contradict Malthus, who are so gifted in mathematics fail to understand the most basic mathematical concept of the exponential function and its consequences.
Wikipedia list of famines
Rather than arguing if a collapse is going to happen perhaps the discussion should focus on the quality of life for the people on the planet. If we work towards 2 billion or we work towards 20 billion, can you not see the difference?