And Then There is Malthus, Lurking in the Shadows of the Anthropocene Age

Well, I read in the news that not only is Al Gore still fat, he is now suggesting that “Civilization might not survive the next 100 years”.

I just started reading Dan Brown’s latest novel with character Robert Langdon, of “The Davinci Code”, titled “Inferno”.

I just yesterday reached the early point of exposition where the the plot of what appears to be a threat of releasing a plague to decimate human population back to sustainable levels is being revealed.

Brown obviously had researched his Malthus, and relentlessly has the character expostulate why overpopulation is the single, overreaching, and inevitable threat to humanity, because we are in essence, like a giant plague of locusts, destroying the very planet that created and nurtured us as a species.

Given the exponential growth of human populations, we as a species are at this point closing in on LESS than a century left to either slow it down, or suffer unsustainable consequences and collapse of civilization. We will reach the point where we can no longer feed ourselves, there will be wars over water accessibility, major population shifts will have to occur because of sea rise and desertification, and we will have decimated other species and the biosphere of plants and animals in what is becoming already the greatest species extinction event since the dinosaurs took a hike.

We are in fact now according to many into the Anthropocene geologic age. The Holocene. which began 115,000 years ago with the end of the last ice age, is over.

Malthusian Theory of Population

Thomas Robert Malthus was the first economist to propose a systematic theory of population. He articulated his views regarding population in his famous book, Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), for which he collected empirical data to support his thesis. Malthus had the second edition of his book published in 1803, in which he modified some of his views from the first edition, but essentially his original thesis did not change.

In Essay on the Principle of Population,Malthus proposes the principle that human populations grow exponentially (i.e., doubling with each cycle) while food production grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e. by the repeated addition of a uniform increment in each uniform interval of time). Thus, while food output was likely to increase in a series of twenty-five year intervals in the arithmetic progression 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and so on, population was capable of increasing in the geometric progression 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and so forth. This scenario of arithmetic food growth with simultaneous geometric human population growth predicted a future when humans would have no resources to survive on. To avoid such a catastrophe, Malthus urged controls on population growth.

Malthusian Theory of Population

There will come a point, perhaps even in my lifetime (I am 67), in which the ability of the human species to live in a state of denial of these trends will no longer be possible, because events and the changing world around them will threaten them with destruction.

At my age, I never really thought I would survive to see such threatened apocalyptic events, but the odds increase in my favor daily, pretty much exponentially.


Author: Ron