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Malthus ...but the only thing doomed was his BloodLine

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Malthus ...but the only thing doomed was his BloodLine
« on: Nov 06, 2011, 03:33:24 am »


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Thomas Malthus predicted the end of the world...but the only thing doomed was his own family

When the Reverend Thomas Malthus predicted in 1798 that the booming population would doom the world to famine and disaster, he had no idea how wrong he would prove to be.

Two centuries on, as the global population tops seven billion, his theory is wholly discredited – and in an ironic twist of fate, his own direct bloodline has been wiped out entirely.

Only 86 years after he wrote An Essay On The Principles Of Population, his branch of the family tree ended with the death of his last surviving daughter, Emily.

Malthus didn’t foresee family lines simply petering out. He believed the population would double every 20 years until people were no longer able to produce crops fast enough to feed themselves.

He predicted that eventually there would be what is now called a Malthusian crisis. ‘This could be a dearth, a famine, a plague, or something that would cut numbers so the population and natural resources would be kept in tandem with one another,’ explains historian Dr Emma Griffin, of the University of East Anglia and author of A Short History Of The British Industrial Revolution. ‘Of course, it has never happened.’

Indeed, although our population hit seven billion last week, experts already say it will reach nine billion by 2050.

Economists believe the Industrial Revolution saved us from the doom Malthus foresaw. Technological innovation enabled modern society to equip itself with sufficient resources.

‘Once you’ve got an industrial society, the connection between the size  of the population and the natural resources is broken so we aren’t dependent on our own agriculture to feed ourselves,’ explains Dr Griffin.

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