Matt Ridley writes in the Wall Street Journal about the recent U.N. projection of there being 7 Billion people living in the world as of Oct 31. Unsurprisingly, most media outlets mention in the same breath the challenges that such an “overbearing” population brings with it – pressure on food, water, prices, and natural resources, as well as augmenting poverty and economic hardship.
These fears stem from the classic Malthusian fear that population growth will outstrip production, reducing the world into poverty, misery, and death. Of course, technological innovation, capital accumulation, and market-price rationing of goods have allowed the world not only to avoid a Malthusian catastrophe, but to flourish with flying colors. Yet it is always more popular to be a pessimist, and Malthusian fears have always lived on, especially among the “Green” movement. Ridley tackles this pessimism head on in his book The Rational Optimist, arguing in a similar vein. Continue reading