Monday, November 07, 2011

We are now seven billon and growing!

Today, or tomorrow (or perhaps even yesterday or next week) the world can celebrate the arrival of the seven billionth human being to our present population.

This is not something about which to rend your clothes and run howling into the street—it is something about which to hooray and huzzah and to celebrate! Especially so, since for most of human history, for around one-hundred thousand years, the human population saw very little change, very few riches, and for virtually all that time it was sparse and ill fed and dirt poor.

For most of human history, the so-called Malthusian Trap remained in place, in which increasing populations tend to outstrip the food supply and the human population remained cold, dark, wet, ill and few and far between.

Not so now, for the most part. It is only since the Industrial Revolution,* that blessed moment human affairs that the Reverend Malthus barely noticed and the Greens still bewail, that increased innovation could finally begin to breed greater productivity and increasing human health and welfare—and with that, human population itself could take off and begin for the first time to flourish.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the numbers of human beings on the planet began to skyrocket, and so (in the places it has been allowed to take hold) it has continued ever since.

We are now seven billon and growing! Take that, Reverend Malthus!

Naturally, this news has occasioned great wailing and gnashing of teeth among contemporary Malthusians, who can be heard to wail everything from “if we keep breeding we’re all gonna die” to “if we keep breeding we’re going to take over the whole planet!”

Fortunately, as long as human remain free to invent and produce there is little danger of the former; and as long as the earth’s surface remains the approximate size that it is, and folk are left free to go there, there are still plenty of places for people to put themselves.

Because as you can see, even if all the world’s seven billion people lived in one enormous city in the US, then depending on the density of the city this is how big that city would be:

image

image

See: even at 7 billion there’s plenty of room to go around, and still plenty left over for farmland and wilderness. So quit worrying about there being enough room for everyone, and start realising instead that human fecundity depends on human freedom.

That’s the way to beat the Malthusian Trap—as we have been since we learned how.

* * * * *

* Summarises Benjamin Marks in 'The Malthusian Trap, “it is possible to take seriously the warnings of the pessimists, but as George Reisman and Ludwig von Mises point out, "it comes true only under socialism"” – i.e., only under a system in which private property is banned, production is strangled and the tragedy of the commons remains in effect – i.e., under a system of (non) production where the human mind is not able to read price signals and opportunities, and unable to adapt their own resources to suit.”

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5 Comments:

Anonymous PaulB said...

It is also thinly veiled racism: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100113125/pc-lingo-cant-disguise-the-racist-malthusian-subtext-of-the-7-billionth-baby-panic/

(Not at al veiled if you read the comments)

11/07/2011 01:40:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

@PaulB; Indeed. There's always far too many of THEM.

11/07/2011 01:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard Watts said...

As a part of a 'secret society' I really have to post my case here. My victory will see you living a life free of distress and my failure will see to it that likely as a reader you will experience suffering.

There are forces at work which would see to a return of worse than the worst days of Nazism. Please support me/us as we fight every day for your continued survival.

I love you all but please and I do beg this, please support investing some of the energy gained from fossil fuels into renewable energy.

Two forces could win, the kind which writes your demise or the kind whom writes your salvation. Prove me right and in doing so you will absolutely make your future.

Either we come up with your future or a darker future will prevail, your choice. Don't let 'rapid population decline' decide your future.

11/07/2011 05:40:00 pm  
Blogger Sam P said...

Yes, worth celebrating. It's a wonder what the last 200 years of such intense & compounding progress has achieved and the resistance it has overcome.

All started on some small, cold island called England. Don't hear so much about the place now but it's ancestors left quite a mark.

11/07/2011 09:49:00 pm  
Anonymous jon said...

RW. What do you mean by renewable energy? I don't think such a thing exists. It's equivalent to perpetual motion.

11/13/2011 12:41:00 am  

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