Sunday, March 30, 2008

Depressing Malthusian Predictions

There are some American "economic conservatives" who believe the concept of limits, limits to growth, limits to population, limits to economic growth, limits to energy use as some sort of treason to doctrine the growth is always good and possible. It has often pointed out that Malthus was wrong because after his prediction was the industrial revolution the great increase in population and massive increases in standards of living the world over. However the growth of industrial revolution and our growth now has been underwritten by the fossils fuels of coal and oil. This suggests Malthus was mainly right.

Here is blogpost by Paul Krugman and discussion about our Malthusian problem. Here also is a report from an energy newsletter that gives historical figures for oil consumption. Makes unhappy reading.

1 comment:

Dave Gardner said...

It's interesting that growthists are so willing to bet our entire future on the experience of the past two or three hundred years (a tiny fraction of the time humankind has existed on Earth).

Just because we got lucky (or not) with technology and figured out how to burn through nearly the entire supply of carbon fuels during this time does not indicate we can keep it up. The signs are pretty clear that we cannot!

Dave Gardner
Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity