The New York Times just published an extraordinary “retro report”—a short video paired with an article—looking back at Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” theory, the fear that an uncontrolled human population would outstrip the ability of the Earth to support it.They make some good points: Ehrlich was wrong, but was a hero to the Left.
The Times lays out some of the evidence for the theory’s failure, including the fact that the world’s population was about 3.5 billion when Ehrlich first made his apocalyptic prognostications in 1968. It’s 7 billion now, and we haven’t starved, we haven’t run out of resources, and we’re better off than we’ve ever been.
And yet as I write this in California, we have water rationing caused almost entirely by population growth (and agricultural development) beyond the available water resources. We also have unemployment that matches immigration rates. We have traffic jams and other population-related problems. We have frequent talk of carbon taxes and other anti-global-warming measures, where population growth and development is the biggest driver of carbon emissions.
So did the increase from 3.5B to 7B people make the world a better or worse place? I say worse.
That’s the basic issue involved: are human beings any good? Is a new person just another mouth to feed — or does he have the potential to become someone who discovers how to feed the world? Do more humans just cause more problems — or do we solve them? Do we only destroy, or do we create? Are human beings good, and if so, shouldn’t we want more of them?This is just foolishness. The runaway population growth is in Third World countries, and is not producing someone to discover how to feed the world. The humans who are creating technology and solving problems are almost entirely coming from countries with stable native populations. (The USA is growing from immigration, not the native population.)
Some humans cause problems and some solve them.
Poor areas of Africa, India, and China are projected to grow by billions of people, while rich areas like Europe may decline in population. It is foolish to think that some African making $1 a day is going to invent a new technology for feeding the world.
We do have a population problem. It could be address it by freezing immigration and stopping aid to the developing world. Ehrlich is too much of a leftist to propose those things, so he babbles nonsense.