Malthusian theory of population - Sample Essays
The IPAT equation and other environmental explanations based on population and resource scarcity became very popular in the 1970's with the birth of the modern environmental movement, and they have often dominated environmental activism and regulation since that time. But the ideas are actually much older than Paul Ehrlich. These arguments originated in late 18th Century England with the work of cleric and scholar Thomas Robert Malthus. In his 1798 book An Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus argued that human population growth is exponential while natural resources (particularly food) are fixed, and their availability can only grow linearly. Thus, he argued that unless the human population was regulated in some way, the population would surpass resource availability, leading to famine, disease, and population collapse (a moment dubbed the 'Malthusian catastrophe.' see figure 2.8 below).
Thomas malthus an essay on the principle of population summary
Malthus believed that starvation would always be a part of human life because he thought that population would increase at a greater rate than food supply....
Straightforward though this may seem, Malthus placed most of the blame for human population problems squarely on the shoulders of the poor and people from less developed nations, finding fault with their ignorance and lack of moral discipline. You may think that this is a rather ugly position to take, and you are not alone. Malthusian arguments had lost prominence until the middle of the 20th Century when a new group of scholars took up the mantel of unchecked population and resource scarcity. These thinkers are known as neomalthusians because their theories are an update to the work of Malthus. The main difference in neomalthusian explanations is the acknowledgment that affluence and technology influence consumption and resource supply problems (and thus environmental impact) as well as total population. In other words, richer nations are also part of the problem - hence the IPAT equation. However, the basic premise still hinges on the notion of overpopulation and resource scarcity. Paul Ehrlich is perhaps the best known and most vocal of the neomalthusian thinkers, and his work and activism have contributed to the dominant position that neomalthusian arguments have in environmental and sustainability circles.