Thomas Malthus Revived

September 19, 2008 • Farming Practices, News

Thanks to Steve Kurtz for this article.

Rises in food prices and global population, especially among the middle classes in India and China, have brought renewed respect to the philosopher of demographic catastrophe, Thomas Robert Malthus.

In the 1990s, a number of writers, including me, were denounced as grim, deterministic Malthusians because of our emphasis on the role the natural world played in global affairs. It was an era without limits, it seemed, when any country could achieve prosperity and human rights. Contrarily, we argued that rising populations, depleted soils and water resources, and other natural phenomena might limit what could be achieved in specific places, and that there was therefore a need for tragic realism.

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