and originator of the perception of economics as "the dismal science." Malthus reasoned that human population tends to grow at a geometrical rate, while our ability to prooduce subsistence increases at a merely arithmetical rate and so we find ourselves in an ever-deepening spiral of suffering caused by overpopulation.
In Malthus's view this process could only be slowed by the "preventive check" of decreased fertility (presumably attained through zealous spiritual devotion) or, the "positive check" of increased mortality.
Critics will protest that such tremendous yields would require the dubious efficiencies of monoculture, petrochemical fertilizers and genetic engineering and that is probably true.
Yet it is also true that, in all liklihood, we'll never need to grow anywhere near that much.
Environmentally sustainable technology for industry, food and energy production is available today.
The reasons why it is not used extensively have more to do with politics and economics than with technical feasibility.Ever-increasing numbers of people in the worlds poorest areas are moving into cities.This has placed great pressures on already-troubled nations.In an economy where more energy and resources are spent in taking pictures of children than are used to feed children in the rest of the world, such advice is preposterous.It is true that the developing world cannot raise its standard of living to "Western" standards, using the same wasteful methods, without causing horrible damage to the natural environment.Recently, however, another kind of demographic shift has been observed.Where women have had access to education and media, birth rates have showed significant declines even when income levels had not increased.In Brazil, for example, the situation became so acute that squatters have been massacred for occupying remote, unused areas of privately-held ranches.A large, organized movement has grown around the peasants' demand simply to be allowed to use land that others don't feel like using, just now.The people can make no living, but at least the ruling regimes can service their international debts, and stay in power. A hundred million people is an increase of roughly half a percentage point. Today, vast capacities of the earth's resources lie unused.Indeed, these statistics show that there is plenty of poverty. Still more arable land is being destroyed by unsustainable farming or settlement practices.