Bomb Scare

May 12, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Zunia carried this story from Foreign Policy. You can post your comments at,1. As one quote illustrates (“experts reckon we could support a population that’s twice as big or more without running out of food.”), this economist has not read the writings of very many ecologists. He clearly missed the announcement last year that over 1 billion people are hungry.

Ever since Parson Thomas Robert Malthus wrote his 1798 essay on population, it has been trotted out by millenarians and self-styled Cassandras as the basis for predicting famine and global woe. Malthus’s arguments were resurrected as a best-seller for the modern era in the 1968 overpopulation-panic classic The Population Bomb. More recently, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs has cited Malthus to explain the dire state of Africa, and Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson to predict a coming 20 years of global misery. The recent food crisis — which pushed 100 million-plus people worldwide into absolute poverty — has elevated Malthus’s reputation as a prognosticator to the Delphic levels of a Nostradamus or an Al Roker.

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