Where is Hollywood getting this stuff? The answer, improbably enough, is that they are getting it from the 18th Century Anglican Priest and economist Thomas Malthus. In his 1798 work An Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus argued that, if left to its own devices, human population growth would outstrip improvements in agricultural productivity, leading inevitably to war, famine, pestilence, and death.
History has not been kind to Rev. Malthus’ arguments. Shortly after the book first appeared, the Industrial Revolution began and living standards began rapidly increasing even as the world’s population exploded. And while there were periodic warnings that we were about to run out of coal, or oil, or some other vital resource, these predictions were largely ignored, and ultimately proved false.
Starting in the mid-1960s, Malthusian fears began a strange rebirth….
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