“The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man,” he wrote then.
Skip ahead to 1968, when the world’s population had risen to around 3.5 billion and the annual rate of growth peaked at 2.1%: American biologist Paul Ehrlich revisited the Malthusian principle in his bestseller starting a movement to hedge the trend.
Even in Sub Saharan Africa, the poorest area on the planet, the food supply now exceeds the recommended 2,000 calories per person per day.
Yet overpopulation fears still exert a powerful hold on the public imagination.
Those jeremiads led to human rights abuses including millions of forced sterilizations in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India, as well as China’s draconian one-child (now two-child) policy. Instead of facing widespread starvation and resource shortages, humanity managed to make resources more plentiful by using them more efficiently, increasing the supply and developing substitutes.
In 1975, officials sterilized 8 million men and women in India alone. Today the population is at a record high, and famines have all but vanished outside of war zones.“The human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at current consumption patterns,” said Mr.Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program in 2007.Earlier this year, a survey by Negative Population Growth found that “American high school students are very worried about overpopulation.” Many prominent environmentalists — from Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Travis Rieder to entertainer Bill Nye “The Science Guy" — support tax penalties or other state-imposed punishments for having “too many” children.Bowdoin College’s Sarah Conly published a book in 2016 through Oxford University Press advocating a “one-child” policy, claiming it is “morally permissible” for the government to limit family sizes through force to prevent overpopulation.Animals across the globe are rapidly disappearing as a result of rapidly expanding human population coupled with an unsustainable level of per capita consumption.In the mid-17th century, there were one-half billion humans on the planet.His preferred solution was to decrease the birth rate by delaying marriage, but if that didn’t work he endorsed some rather extreme measures to slash the population.To prevent famine, he thought it was morally permissible to “court the return of the plague” by making the poor live in swamps and even to ban “specific remedies for ravaging diseases.” After Malthus died, the Industrial Revolution brought about unprecedented prosperity that funded the construction of safe water supplies and sewage systems at a scale never before achieved.Problems such as climate change, water shortages, overharvesting and habitat disruption—symptoms of human pressure on the planet’s finite resources—are driving down wildlife populations worldwide.” Harvard Professor E. Wilson estimates that, “..the land at least and on a worldwide basis, species are vanishing 100 times faster than before the arrival of Homo sapiens.” He adds that, “Today as human populations expand and alter the natural environment, they are reducing biological diversity to its lowest level since the end of the Mesozoic era, 65 million years ago.” Read AWI’s Population and Consumption brochure about the impacts of human population and consumption on the natural environment and ways each individual can make a difference by consuming less, consuming differently, and conserving more. Answer by Chelsea Follett, Managing Editor of Human Progress.org, on Quora: Unwarranted panic about overpopulation is a big problem that has led to human rights abuses and much pointless suffering.