The Myth of Over-Population
S. Michael Craven - June 6th, 2011
Perhaps one of the most persistent and pervasive myths that have shaped the thinking of many people and, subsequently, public policy is the myth that the world’s population is spiraling out of control and that it will ultimately lead to catastrophic shortages of the essential resources necessary to sustain life.
This whole concept of “overpopulation” can be traced to Thomas Malthus, the British scholar and Anglican clergyman (albeit a very misguided one) who, without any specific knowledge other than his own speculations, predicted in 1789 that the planet’s rapid increase in population would soon outstrip the planet’s ability to produce food, resulting in massive worldwide starvation. Malthus’s predicted famine never materialized, of course; he could not have predicted the industrial revolution or the enormous impact subsequent technological innovations would have on our ability to produce food. Recall that today our federal government actually pays farmers not to grow crops due to the abundance of food produced on considerably less farmland than existed just a century ago.