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Another for the ‘I Miss Julian Simon’ File

Posted By Don Boudreaux On May 21, 2011 @ 12:04 pm In Complexity & Emergence,Myths and Fallacies,Population | Comments Disabled

Here’s a letter to the Los Angeles Times:

I write this letter mere hours before – if the prediction of a small sect of Christians is correct – the world will end.  Many people around the country recently have enjoyed a good laugh when reading accounts of the gullible faithful few who believe this prediction that the world will end later today: after all, evidence for this prediction is utterly lacking.

Yet letter writers in today’s (final?) edition [1] of your paper are as certain that the world will soon crash and burn because of population growth as the May 21st doomsters are certain that the world will crash and burn because of Biblical prophesy [2].  And just as for the prediction of the world ending on May 21, 2011, evidence for population growth causing a catastrophe for humanity is utterly lacking.

Are humans today who live on densely populated continents (such as Europe) poorer, less healthy, and suffering shorter life-expectancies than are humans today who live on sparsely populated continents (such as Africa)?  No; quite the opposite.  Are humans today who live in densely populated urban areas generally poorer, less healthy, and suffering shorter life-expectancies than are humans today who live in sparsely populated rural areas?  No; quite the opposite.  Has human wealth, health, and life-expectancy worsened as population grew dramatically over the past two centuries?  No; these have improved dramatically.

So in light of this overwhelming evidence that growing population and greater population densities are positively associated with improvements in the human condition, why suppose that growing population nevertheless is a “bomb” destined to explode and hurl us into hell for our sinful refusal to follow the teachings of wild-eyed preachers such as Paul Ehrlich and Lester Brown?  Theirs is a fact-immune religious creed that I thoroughly reject.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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[1] letter writers in today’s (final?) edition: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/

[2] May 21st doomsters are certain that the world will crash and burn because of Biblical prophesy: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/us/20rapture.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1305993767-YZNocqQrhduderpz7FGRxQ

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