The World is UNDERpopulated

by Don Boudreaux on July 22, 2011

in Complexity & Emergence, Myths and Fallacies, Population

While many myths compete with “the-world-is-over-populated-with-humans” myth for the honor of being the myth with least empirical and theoretical support, no myth surpasses the over-population myth in groundlessness and, really, absurdity pregnant with totalitarian impulses.  I like the take of the Boston Globe‘s Jeff Jacoby.

And see here just how out of touch with reality is the myth of over-population.  (HT Chris Meisenzahl)

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juan carlos vera July 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The absurd Malthusian law only germinates in totalitarian minds…

vikingvista July 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

“Human beings do not just consume, they also produce.”
–Bryan Caplan

The perfect quote to confront an “overpopulation misanthrope”.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:27 am

Yeah right! The fact that different countries have vastly different standards of living negates that notion.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 1:50 am



vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 2:12 am

Humans don’t produce?

Gil July 23, 2011 at 4:22 am

Not all.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

Well then, Gil, why don’t you shape up?

anthonyl July 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm

All humans produce but a lack of capitalism keeps their countries from advancing. I don’t mean money from loans. I mean the specific knowledge, infrastructure and organization that builds wealth in that specific environment.

Kirby July 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Tell that to anybody who works for a living.

John Galt July 25, 2011 at 4:51 am

There are plenty of skilled hardworking producers everywhere.
Studies show the only thing lacking in 3rd world countries is capital, nothing more, nor less.
Sadly, much American ingenuity is applied to sell only limited use consumer goods which strive to be consumable and unusuitable as capital.
Caplan is a true Randian hero, championing ways to live in this world of scarce resources amid anti-human Platonic clusterfuch chimera.
For every gram of Jacoby sanity on the population question, like most neocons, one finds kilotons of insanity everywhere else. Crazy crowing about our future progeny being pre-conscripted to represent a shining indispensible nation of Globo-cops, gloriously patrolling a crony-corporate prison paradise.

Krishnan July 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

Ah yes … The ones that have got it by stealing from others and did nothing to create new products, come up with ideas … Right.

Crops show up magically in the fields, cars come out of thin air, planes drop from the sky … Humans are nothing but thieves …

What an insight. I now understand why the USSR failed – it was because we stole from them – and why North Korea is poor – we are stealing from them – and why Cuba is like what it is …

Observer_Guy1 July 23, 2011 at 2:04 am

You deserve to spend the rest of your life stuck in traffic breathing carbon monoxide until you turn blue from asphyxiation.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 2:12 am

Are you a parody of a misanthrope?

juan carlos vera July 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Optimum population?? Who is believed to be this miserable, totalitarian, criminal and fascist?. I wish the worst for this evil man, Simon Ross…

viking July 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I grew up in Dhaka where even my well-to-do family had not more than 700 sq. ft. of space between 7 souls. And we were the better off. The poor in our community, some of whom I knew closely, lived 7 people packed in a 200 sq.ft. single-room shack.

I have no philosophical take on overpopulation or Malthusian-ism, but I have experienced first-hand how dehumanizing and miserable a virtual lack of private space is.

Surely, this tilts my worldview against over-population, and I am curious to see if it affects the other side too. Don, how many square feet of space do you have to yourself? How about those who are commenting for or against – it would be an interesting academic exercise if you mention your available personal space too along with your opinion. Thanks.

vikingvista July 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Houstonians have PLENTY of space to themselves. Look at the linked map.

John Sullivan July 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Your problem is not overpopulation, per se, but with people who abuse the populations that they rule over. Please learn the difference. Most of the globe is vacant, if you’ve ever cared to look around yourself.

Reading some of these posts makes me understand why tyranny exists in the first place. Your woldview suggest that you are comfortable submitting to totalitarion rule if given a few extra sq. ft.

Don, do you wear boxers or briefs?

ArrowSmith July 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Actually no. The most desirable locations are already taken. Wastelands are available.

The Other Tim July 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

You must live in a disgusting part of the globe. I wouldn’t describe the desirable yet untaken areas around my parts as wastelands.

Rugby1 July 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Most desirable locations? I did not realize that Jacksonville Florida or Washington DC were considered the most desirable locations. They are actually quite miserable from a climate perspective. Desirability of locations often has to do with the development of the surrounding areas, to presume that only “wastelands” are left means you have spent just about zero time outside of whatever city you live in, let alone the country.

If you want to see a modern day “wasteland” why dont you head into Detroit where modern day government policies have lead to people fleeing the city and an overall population decline over the last 50 years.

Jack Murphy July 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm

only wastelands are available? what land wasn’t wasteland before industrious men cultivated it and made it desirable?

viking July 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Come awn, man! You are calling me totalitarian-leaning because I don’t like crowded places?

anthonyl July 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Manhattan and San Francisco are crowded places but because people are relatively free they work just fine.

John Galt July 25, 2011 at 5:12 am

Statistically, you most like are totalitarian, for it is the only state in which rulers can effectively solve the problems many wish them to solve.

Dhaka, July 24 — The High Court has sought to know what measures have been taken to control hoarding of sugar and the prices of oil.

A bench of justices asked four government officials to present themselves with the explanation at the court on Aug 9.

The four officials are the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) chairman, chief controller of imports and exports, Chittagong Port Authority chairman and the director general of Department of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP).

The court ruling came upon a petition filed by the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.

The organisation’s lawyer Manzill Murshid produced a bottle of Rupchanda soybean oil and said, “The government has fixed the price of this bottle at Tk 109. The label says it’s Tk 123. In reality, the market price is even higher.”

Later, the lawyer said, “Some businessmen are selling oil for higher prices, but the administration remains passive.”

The court also instructed the food secretary, commerce secretary, inspector general of police and the director general of RAB to ensure no one sells sugar and oil at prices higher than those fixed by the government.

It ordered the government to conduct inspections to prevent hoarding of the two commodities.

The High Court also told mobile courts to ensure immediate penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment to those found guilty.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
At April 2010, USA – based ratings agency Standard & Poor’s awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a long term in credit rating which is below India and well over Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh remains a developing nation, however, Bangladesh gradually decreased its dependency on foreign grant and loan from 85% (In 1988) to 2% (In 2010) for its annual development budget. Its per capita income in 2010 was US$641 compared to the world average of $8,985. If purchasing power parity (PPP) is taken into account, Bangladesh’s economy is the 44th largest in the world at US$257 billion.
Bangladesh’s most significant obstacles to growth are poor governance and weak public institutions, despite these hurdles, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 5% since 1990.

Bangladesh has seen expansion of its middle class (world’s Fifty Forth largest, just below of Singapore & Vietnam), and its consumer industry has also grown. Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of the “Next Eleven” slated to join the BRIC emerging economies.

The Other Tim July 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm

This was pointed out some months ago, but the amount of square footage available for humans to live in is not fixed and therefore doesn’t really apply to the population debate because it isn’t something we’re going to run out of if we need more of it. We can manufacture more space for ourselves. At this very moment I’m sitting upon square footage that didn’t exist until a human caused it to exist.

It’s called a second story.

Don Boudreaux July 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm


anthonyl July 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Australia- with lots of equally great space to live still has the most crowded cities in the world. People want to live in cities. They are a sign of freedom, capital accumulation and efficiency. Without interference, people choose to live in cities

Kirby July 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Also, Florida didn’t exist until humans came around.

Dan J July 24, 2011 at 12:17 am

Or 56 stories later……..we can go up….. And we could go down, if necessary.

Methinks1776 July 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Viking, what you’re describing is poverty.

My husband went to high school in Dhaka. They had 3,000 sq. feet for a family of 6 and a nice garden. I think prosperity will solve the overcrowding problem, my friend. In the third world, you have a lot of very poor people scrambling to get to population centers and away from subsistence farming. Those folks are packed in like sardines. They can’t afford anything else.

viking July 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Your husband was previleged. In dense places, the average person does indeed have less space, it has little to do with poverty.

Show me one place with denser population than the United States, but with more individual liberties.

tdp July 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Monaco. Filthy rich tax haven and the most densely populated country in the world.

MWG July 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

One could argue Hong Kong, depending on how you define personal liberty.

tdp July 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

The lack of liberty in Hong Kong is because it is owned by China, not because of population density.

MWG July 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm


I meant HK could have more ‘liberties’ than us here in the US depending on how you define ‘personal liberty’.

Jack Murphy July 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Just think, Viking, how much happier you would have been if you would have merely killed a few of your family members. All that extra space, heaven! Maybe that mean old Hitler was onto something- those 60 million he killed created so much extra lebensraum, er, living space.

pravin July 22, 2011 at 11:17 pm

dont confuse overcrowding with overpopulation. cities in the thirdworld are overcroded because of non existent cityplanning.

SMV July 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I have to disagree with the city planning part. The best way to deal with overcrowding is to allow people to use land with as little central control as possible. Too many times control is used to push the poor into slums, then use the planning rules to extort money from them.

vikingvista July 22, 2011 at 11:34 pm


Welcome to the Cafe. Your comments are perfectly polite, and I don’t mean to sound rude, but I’d gladly give you $5 to use a moniker other than “viking”. Just throws me off when I’m scanning for replies.

Good choice though.

Krishnan July 23, 2011 at 10:19 am

Urban centers tend to attract people – so yea, I can see why cities like Dhaka (or Mumbai or Kolkata or Chennai …) are crowded – if that is the ONLY parameter with which you measure “misery” or “happiness” then yea, you can say that “over population” is bad – Hong Kong is, I suspect more dense than Kolkata or Dhaka or Mumbai – and yet it is prosperous – it is what happens WITH the people you have that makes a difference … I have experienced Mumbai – and seen that because of the increase in population along with the opening of the economy, things are better for ALL – not just a few – and people keep pouring into Mumbai – because elsewhere it is worse – lots of open spaces, but not much of anything else – but even that is changing for the better …

Plac Ebo July 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm

The state of Texas could hold 7 billion 14′x70′ mobile homes. One for every person on the planet. That’s proof enough for me. “The World is UNDERpopulated”

ArrowSmith July 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Most of Texas is dry scrub-land unsuitable for human habitation. What we need to look at his habitable acres and how much needs to be set aside for agriculture to support an optimum population.

vikingvista July 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Uhh…if the entire world’s population lived in Texas, I think the entire rest of the world would still be available for other things, like agriculture.

Ken July 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm


“What we need to look at his habitable acres and how much needs to be set aside for agriculture to support an optimum population.”

How do you compute “optimum population”? You can’t. The idea that you can is the very definition of the pretense of knowledge. Technology changes how much food can be grown on a fixed sized plot. Additionally, you will make some pretty sweeping assumptions, like what the average person should eat and completely ignore what people WANT to eat. The homogenizing assumptions alone should tell you what a ridiculous endeavor you are attempting.


ArrowSmith July 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

What about water? Unless you live in a few lucky places, rationing is the order of the day or worse poisoned water for 3rd worlders.

Ken July 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm


What about water? Clean water is becoming more and more abundant as technologies improve. It shouldn’t very too long (within my lifetime) before technology provides cheap clean water from the ocean. Then what’s you’re argument going to be? That you don’t like other people and want to keep them from having children?


Krishnan July 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Ah yes – people are dying by the millions every day because of poisoned water – and all that “habitable acres” just show up magically – humans have nothing to with making things “habitable” – and I suppose there are “natural resources” that have ALWAYS been here and the lucky people stumble onto it and started using it – I suppose when someone saw black gunk out of the ground, they knew INSTANTLY that it can be used to warm and cool and all that – and as fuel … Somalis are dying of famine because we have stolen their water …

Amazing what some people like ArrowSmith believe in and there is nothing – NOTHING you can say to convince them otherwise …

anon July 24, 2011 at 2:11 am

Lucky? Luck has nothing to do with it. Ingenuity and hard work is where wealth comes from.

“Innovative India water plant opens in Madras”

“A desalination plant which begins operating in Madras on Saturday will provide some of the cheapest drinking water in India, backers say.”

“They say that the plant will supply 1,000 litres of drinking water for just over $1 and could well be a “template” for other coastal Indian cities.”

“The company behind the plant says that it is the biggest in South Asia.”

“It will provide 100 million litres of water a day to the city by filtering sea water under high pressure”

Meanwhile, the first-world response exemplified in California is to obstruct all progress, restrict desalination plants as environmental evils, and force water rationing on their citizens. The most imminent form of scarcity: artificial scarcity.

Treibs July 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

How do you compute how many acres need to be set aside for agriculture? It seems to me that we’ve constantly developed new technology to allow us to produce more food in smaller areas.

I suspect technology might be able to find plenty of water too, given that 70% of the planet is covered in it.

Dan J July 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Couldnt Phoenix, Az have been described as uninhabitable at one time? Dubai?

Krishnan July 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Logic is useless. Reminding some of how HUMANS have made things “habitable” and found water and fuel and grew food and all that is irrelevant to them … ALL they see, when they see humans living and thriving is that “they are lucky” and so by definition anyone else is “unlucky” and have had things stolen from them -

Darren July 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm

“Most of Texas is dry scrub-land unsuitable for human habitation.”

How about Florida? There was a time when no one could live there, at least not in the comfort once can now. Now you see swamps drained or filled in making more habitable living space or places for more roads and bridges, as long as you don’t mind sharing with the bugs. :)

Ken July 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm


The burden really lies with you and your idiotic kind. If you are going to introduce liberty reducing, happiness squashing legislation because you believe the world to be over populated, the burden of proof is on YOU to prove the world is actually over populated.


ArrowSmith July 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The burden of proof is on the pro-breeders. You guys have to prove there is enough water, fertile land and oil to support 7 billion+.

Don Boudreaux July 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm

In all places with market-oriented institutions, people today live densely and richly – that’s roughly, and at least, 4.9 billion people (about five times the number of people alive 200 years ago).

Burden back on you.

Plac Ebo July 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

That’s your proof that the world is underpopulated? That’s not very convincing.

Ken July 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm


That people’s lives are vastly better now with more population AND GETTING BETTER is somehow proof that the world is overpopulated?


Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:34 am

Ken, the world is getting better off with technology – the U.S. has way less people than India yet has way more wealth. Population isn’t wealth per se.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 1:51 am


Can you point to where I said that population=wealth?

If not, this is a straw man.


Gil July 23, 2011 at 4:24 am

This wjhole article argues for the notion that more people equals more wealth and people are wealth, period.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 5:43 am


“This wjhole article argues for the notion that more people equals more wealth and people are wealth, period.”

Bullshit. It rightly point out that people are the producers of wealth and with more people around more wealth is produced. At no point does it say wealth=population, “period”.

As populations grow, wealth tends to increase. While population is a major factor in wealth creation, no one is saying that is the only determinant. Only you are. Standard straw man, redefining an argument slightly in order to knock that redefined argument down. As anyone can tell you at this blog, freedom and property rights are pretty important too, though not the whole story.


Gil July 23, 2011 at 6:57 am

Yessss, this article is about more people in the whole world will equal more wealth. It’s about humans being the “greatest resource”. If the U.S. has 1 billion people it’ll be wealthier. If India has 3 billion it’ll be wealthier. And so forth.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm

“That’s your proof that the world is underpopulated?”

Resources have become more, rather than less, accessible to people.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm


Humans are the greatest resource. But many, like you, are the greatest hindrance to human happiness. Wannabe tyrants, like democrats, and most republicans see other humans as their personal resource to be taxed and whipped into acting in accordance with politicians.

But even someone as dumb as you should recognize that people build things. People create wealth. Nothing else does.


Dan J July 24, 2011 at 12:22 am

Just how many advancements do you think are made by 10 sole individuals bouncing ideas off of each other and producing? Wanna bet my million people produce moe advancements over any ten people you can conjure up in history?

The Other Tim July 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

If this were 1500 and human progress had been slow and plodding for the last several millennia, the burden of proof might be on us. Living in the age we live in, the burden of proof is on you to prove that humans are not presently inventing ever-better ways to produce greater and greater quantities of goods to sustain ourselves with.

Put another way, why is all technological progress and the associated increase in the number of people human civilization can sustain going to stop tomorrow?

Gil July 23, 2011 at 7:00 am

Strange how a burst of innovation and invention occurred after a large drop in population in the West.

Emil July 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

“Strange how a burst of innovation and invention occurred after a large drop in population in the West”

There wasn’t much innovation in the US before people moved to it

Gil July 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

How could the immigrants come from if Europe was “underpopulated”?

tarran July 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

Gil, sweetie,

People came from Europe to the new world because it was less dangerous, and they had a chance to own their own land rather than slaving for feudal land-lords.

Check out “In His Own Words: A Biography of Ben Franklin” from the library some time. He discussed your very question in a letter he penned while in England.

Now you may argue for feudalism as being the product of overpopulation, but I should point out that the population densities were a fraction of what they are now, and there were large tracts of wilderness that the emigrants to the new world chose to forego in favor of a risky ocean crossing.

Ken July 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm


Wrong. If you’re going to enact new laws, the burden is on you to prove they are necessary. If you want to burden everyone else with restricted liberty, criminalize yet another action, YOU must prove that that loss of liberty and increased incarceration actually serves a purpose.


Craig S July 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

“Most of Texas is dry scrub-land unsuitable for human habitation”

And that’s different from say Las Vegas or Pheonix?

I think I heard some where that we could fit everyone on the planet on just the island of Cuba if it was as densly populated as Hong Kong

ArrowSmith July 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Sure if you pack everyone in a concentration camp. But how can you give 7 billion people each a McMansion?

The Other Tim July 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Were we trying to give everyone a mansion? I must have missed the part in Ehrlich where he promised everyone can have a mansion if we reduce global population.

Ken July 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm


“Sure if you pack everyone in a concentration camp.”

No one’s talking about “packing” anyone anywhere. I’m talking about people deciding for themselves where and how to live, as well as the size family they want without busybodies like you blowing smoke out of your ass, keeping them from living the lives they want to live.

“But how can you give 7 billion people each a McMansion?”

No one’s talking about “giving” anyone anything. YOU are talking about keeping people from having whatever size families they want.

And why couldn’t everyone have a McMansion? If everyone in the world owned an acre of land, only a sixth of the world’s land would be used for residences. Since most people don’t want an acre of land and prefer living in cities, where an acre of land can easily house hundreds of people in McMansion sized apartments, you’re still whistling Dixie.


Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:36 am

Gee, isn’t that the problem? Rich people wants lots of space and wasteful consumption, especially organic food. In other words, they want an expensive lifestyle that support fewer people in the world.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 1:57 am


“Gee, isn’t that the problem?”

No. There is no problem.

“Rich people wants lots of space and wasteful consumption”

No. If that were true, so many rich people wouldn’t live in cities. And please define “wasteful consumption”.

“, especially organic food.”

Really? I’m fairly rich, as are almost all Americans, yet, I really don’t care about “organic” foods, nor do most Americans.

” In other words, they want an expensive lifestyle that support fewer people in the world.”

Everyone wants an expensive lifestyle. Increasing the number of people with expensive lifestyles doesn’t necessitate fewer people in the world.


Gil July 23, 2011 at 7:01 am

Sure rich people want more space and wasteful consumption – check out how Al Gore and James Cameron live.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

“Sure rich people want more space and wasteful consumption – check out how Al Gore and James Cameron live.”

Of course. I agreed with you before and am agreeing with you now. The problem with your statement, though, is you assume only rich people want more space. ALL people want more waste.

Also, you have failed to define “wasteful consumption”. You have a computer and pay for internet service. Likely you pay for TV service and TVs as well. Likely you have more space than you need. You probably have a car, which isn’t necessary. In short, your life is probably a model of what you would define as “wasteful”.


tarran July 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

I think it is shockingly wasteful for so many people to have computers. The head of IBM was correct when he opined that there really was a need for only 4 computers throughout the world.

The rest is just wasteful consumption of valuable and scarce silicon.


MWG July 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm


I’ve been here long enough to know you’re not a collectivist, but you sure are talking like one.

brotio July 23, 2011 at 1:01 am

You’ve almost detected the sarcasm.

MWG July 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You’re ‘almost’ correct… until you read his other comments on this thread.

Floccina July 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Further more Hong Kong, Singapore and The Netherlands show that a country cannot be overpopulated without the world being overpopulated.

Automatic July 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

While I certainly don’t dispute the notion that larger populations will continually find new ways to meet their needs at a rate that matches or exceeds their growth, this is entirely unnecessary to refute the myth of the need for population control. Animal populations will not outgrow their resources because doing so causes the populations to shrink naturally. Thus they find points of equilibrium. One can find points in human history where populations were largely static for long periods of time because there was insufficient ability to acquire the resources to grow.

We’re not simply numbers that just grow exponentially without cause according to some pre-determined function.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

The term is “carrying capacity”, and judging by resource availability, the human carrying capacity has been growing faster than the population.

John Sullivan July 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

This whole line of questioning is idiotic. one of the first responses was of its totalitarian character. If the world becomes over-populated, man will kill each other when that time comes. To kill now, perhaps a million years in advance, if that, implies that a totalitarian power exists that can do so. Unsurprisingly, most of the liberlas who post here are quite comfortable advocating for such a power to emerge.

Why do liberals wnat to be ruled so easily?

It’s because they think that the rulers will either select them to be rulers, or, short of that, that their particular opinions to become the law.

John Sullivan July 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Wehn I tpye fast I trasnpose letters. srroy.

Richard Stands July 23, 2011 at 1:58 am

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

(Email spam. Not real research, but still makes a pretty good point for short words)

jack murphy July 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm

“It’s because they think that the rulers will either select them to be rulers, or, short of that, that their particular opinions to become the law.”

Precisely, John. I wonder how many socialists within Cambodian academe held this opinion before Pol Pot turned on them.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:39 am

Why do Libertarians want to see humans filling every possible part of the planet?

Ken July 23, 2011 at 1:58 am


Why are you so opposed to people living where it makes them happiest?


Emil July 23, 2011 at 6:55 am

We don’t, we just want people to be able to decide for themselves

Kirby July 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Somebody is forgetting the brilliant example set by China. When a place is overpopulated, facism seems inevitable. Which is bad.

Dan J July 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Communism: when population exceeds ability to feed and house… Just kill them off.

Kirby July 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm

pretty much. But look at the two examples we have:
India: 95% of the population is without drinking water
China: facism, communism, and they are actually really capitalist economically.

Krishnan July 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

You mean of a population of about 1 BILLION, only 50 million have access to drinking water?

Stop the presses … “Kirby” has discovered humans that can survive without water AND make more copies of themselves …

Perhaps you can use this information to help ANYONE who does not have access to drinking water?

Kirby July 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Stop the presses… Krishnan reveals that anything except locally created tap water is now poisonous! Drop your sodas, your bottled water, your rainwater. ALL POISON!

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

That’s because slavery isn’t as lucrative when there aren’t many productive slaves.

muirgeo July 22, 2011 at 7:15 pm

When Malthus was alive there were about a billion people. At least some were living decent lives and many lived difficult but independent lives. Now some 1.5 billion live in abject poverty with starvation and disease and homocide and death from militias often a possiblitiy.

If we can ignore them I guess thing are better. And then there are the crowds, the traffic jams, the e Coli tainted beaches, the searing heat ect… but yeah lets raise the roof and invite more workers to the arbitrage… I mean more people to the party.

HaywoodU July 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm

And those damn doctors helping people live longer. Bastards.

Kirby July 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Ignore the facts that:
The traffic jams can only exist because over 95% of Americans have cars
The e Coli tainted beaches are a far cry from when Malthus was alive and they just threw their feces into the Thames
The searing heat is a product of natural forces, and we now have air conditioner, fans, and other things to combat that. In the past, a heat wave like this would have rotted all of the meat, destroyed the ice freezers hidden in the ground, and pasteurized all of the milk-for the first time.

Don Boudreaux July 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm


Rugby1 July 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I suggest you learn a little more history before making the spurious claim that “some people” were living decent lives. Life in the 1850′s was far harder that it is today. Is it any surprise that life expetancy was about 2/3 of what it is now? You also mention the totalnumber of people in poverty but fail to mention the % of population in poverty or the difference between the poverty of today vs. The 19th century. Finally even the fantastically wealthy of the1850′scould not even dream of the luxuries poor people own today. Sure with population growth come issues that did not occuf in the 1850′s but to compare the time frames is to have no perspective of history. But tell me Muirego, since you seem so concerned, what is the correct population? If we are overcrowded now, are you planning on depopulating the earth? You have all the answers tell me how would you accomplish this?

Don Boudreaux July 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm

“Finally even the fantastically wealthy of the1850′scould not even dream of the luxuries poor people own today.”

Yes. Indeed.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:42 am

The U.S. poor lives cosily. I’m sure most poor Chinese and Indians live pretty much the same as they always have.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 5:50 am

So? Most Chinese aren’t poor. muirgeo’s argument is that in Malthus’s time, the billion people back then lived hard lives, but not in abject poverty. Only today do a billion people live in abject poverty, as a result of the population explosion. The fact is the majority of people, including the majority of Chinese DO NOT live in abject poverty. Since the population explosion in China, the percentage of Chinese living in poverty has declined significantly.


Emil July 23, 2011 at 6:58 am

And the share and absolute number of people living in poverty decreases continously (especially where there is capitalism and markets)

Rugby1 July 23, 2011 at 9:43 am


If you assume that most chinese and indian poor live as they always have then you would be massively and unmistakenly wrong. There are very poor and desperate peole in both countries and India especially still has the remnants of a caste system that subjects portions of their population to hardship.

That being said both countries have experienced unprecedented economic growth pulling swaths of their populations out poverty and slowly giving rise to the beginnings of a prosperous middle class. So you would be simply incorrect.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 11:05 am

I’m sure there are plenty of poverty-stricken Chinese and Indians who have yet to feel the effects of the trickle-down effect and mots definitely poorer than Americans.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:43 am

Alternatively, how is that the U.S. can get rich on 25% of the people of China and India? China and India ought have living 4x that of the U.S. yet they don’t?

Ken July 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

Freedom and property rights. You keep erecting the straw man that what’s being argued is that only population matters, that wealth=population. But that is clearly NOT what anyone but you is saying.


tdp July 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Exactly. The reason more people there haven’t felt the “tickle down effect” is because the market has been restricted and people have no means of pulling themselves out of poverty. There is no “trickle down effect”. A free market makes everyone wealthier, rich and poor. Everyone earns more and spends more, and there is a circular flow of money to all parts of the economy, but this money is earned in exchange for providing value, not from crumbs falling accidentally from the rich to the poor like food scraps off a dinner table. When the market is restricted, only people who already have sufficient stores of capital, ie the rich, can keep prospering.

Rugby1 July 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm


You said “I am pretty sure most poor indians and chinese live as they always have.”

I countered with a statement reflecting the rising standard of living and the development of a middle class.

You then stated that some poor chinese and indians who have yet to feel the “trickle down effect.” First your derisive use of trickle down effect means you do not have a clue as to how the economies of those two countries have developed. Second I never said that there were not people who were no longer poor, just that many people who were once poor are no longer and other individuals who are poor now, have an opportunity to escape the grinding poverty that once trapped them forever. Nice try on changing the tenets of our discussion to support your continued false assertions.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm

They’re no longer poor because they died and the new poor are the new young? Social mobility is overrated, not every poor person becomes wealthy into middle-age.

Economiser July 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Muirgeo, building off of Rugby1′s point, would you prefer to be born a a wealthy American in 1850 or a poor American in 2011?

Before you answer, don’t forget that the infant mortality rate in the 1850s was over 10% even among the wealthy, so by choosing 1850, there’s a fair chance you wouldn’t make it past birth. You’re effectively playing Russian roulette with your life as compared to being born today.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 4:34 am

A false dichotomy? Yes rich people of yesteryears had a good chance of living an fulfilling lifestyle and becoming quite old. Yes there are poor Americans today whose chances of becoming an adult is lower than a wealthy American. Then again young people still snuff it in this day and age hence life is still a game of Russian roulette.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 5:54 am


Rich people in 1850 had a pretty high infant mortality rate. The infant mortality rate for the US poor in 2011 is MUCH lower than even the rich in 1850.


muirgeo July 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

A rich man in 1850… no doubt. Do you have any idea how the poorest live? You choose American. The 1.5 living in abject poverty do NOT live in America.

Would you rather have 1 billion people living as they did in 1850 or 1.5 billion living in the abject poverty they do today.

Have we really made much progress?

Dan J July 23, 2011 at 11:13 am

How did those slaves live in 1850? I am sure the slaves sent to Brazil which was far higher than that of the US previously were so happy.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I have to hand it our modern day masters. We 2011 slaves live relatively well. The wonders of modern livestock management.

Martin Brock July 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm

The billion people living in what you call “abject poverty” today live very much like most people lived in 1800. I visited a couple of historic preservationists at a state park last week. They rebuild historic sites as people of the time would have built the structures, using only tools of the period, which they also construct themselves. These people, living as they do in these preservation projects, would certainly qualify as “abjectly poor” today. As it is, abject poverty is their recreational activity.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Why presume everyone lived in adject povety in 1800? Many of the people of that period must have been doing okay for there to be continued progress and population increase. A visit to a graveyard of people who lived in the 1800s show many lived to advanced old age.

Martin Brock July 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I don’t assume that everyone lived in abject poverty in 1800. The words in my post are “most people”, not “everyone”. Most people in 1800 lived in what today would qualify as “abject poverty”.

The age of the oldest person buried in 1800 is irrelevant. Average life expectancy from birth in 1800 was less than half of what it is today, but the age of the oldest people hasn’t change much. The earliest centenarian certified by the Guinness Book was born in 1745 and lived to be 111, but people born in the same year lived less than forty years on the average.

HaywoodU July 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Seriously? You can’t be serious.

Martin Brock July 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Can you ask a more specific question?

MWG July 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

“At least some were living decent lives and many lived difficult but independent lives.”

…and most lived short, brutal lives. Your attempt to sorta gloss over that fact is… weak.

muirgeo July 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

And what kind of lives do the lowest 1.5 billion in the modern world live?

Ths poor fella is saying… I’ll take my chances with 1850.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 11:00 am

That kid might own a used DVD player . . .

MWG July 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

“And what kind of lives do the lowest 1.5 billion in the modern world live?”

You’re not so bright are you. Those 1.5 billion living in poverty constitute a MUCH smaller percentage of the overall population. IOW (I’ll repeat what I just said so your small mind can comprehend it), the percentage of the overall world population living in poverty is shrinking and has been for some time.,,menuPK:336998~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:336992,00.html

Get it?

MWG July 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

“And what kind of lives do the lowest 1.5 billion in the modern world live?”

You’re not so bright are you. Those 1.5 billion living in poverty constitute a MUCH smaller percentage of the overall population. IOW (I’ll repeat what I just said so your small mind can comprehend it), the percentage of the overall world population living in poverty is shrinking and has been for some time.

Get it?

MWG July 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

“And what kind of lives do the lowest 1.5 billion in the modern world live?”

You’re not so bright are you. Those 1.5 billion living in poverty constitute a MUCH smaller percentage of the overall population. IOW (I’ll repeat what I just said so your small mind can comprehend it), the percentage of the overall world population living in poverty is shrinking and has been for some time.

Get it?

muirgeo July 24, 2011 at 1:04 am

“You’re not so bright are you. Those 1.5 billion living in poverty constitute a MUCH smaller percentage of the overall population. ”

I’m not so smart…. YFI…. 1.5 billion people is 1.5 billion people. Defining them as some percentage is f”’ing ignorant as hell. The fact is when we are talking about real living breathing suffering people 1.5 billion is 0.5 billion more than 1.0 billion.

Don’t even talk to me again you stupid SOB…. please don’t bother responding to my post.

Dan J July 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

If one single person is living in abject poverty in the world then the world is to blame and the whole world should be turned upside down until that person can be rest assured that he/she is never again in such a mess.

You are there’re classic example of the arrogant, elitist, wannabe intellectual who thinks e is smarter than 4.5billion others. WOW!
Go to Haiti and stop being a hypocrite.

MWG July 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm

“1.5 billion people is 1.5 billion people. Defining them as some percentage is f”’ing ignorant as hell.”

Your ‘righteous indignation’ is a weak attempt to mask your stupidity and everyone here sees right through it. Using percentages is not ignorant. How else would you measure progress in terms of poverty reduction?

“Don’t even talk to me again you stupid SOB…. please don’t bother responding to my post.”

What are you, 10? Generally I’m pretty good about not responding to your posts. Your constant display of ignorance regarding even the most basic economic principles deserves nothing more than simple mockery, but my decision to respond is mine alone to make.

robert_o July 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm

What will muirgeo do when fewer than a billion people live in abject poverty, which should happen pretty soon? Will he recant? Or will he redefine “abject poverty”? Or will he keep ignoring the changing facts?

Dan J July 24, 2011 at 11:08 pm

He will gladly change the parameters of ‘abject poverty’.

brotio July 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm


Craig July 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm

“Ths poor fella is saying… I’ll take my chances with 1850.”

The hell he is. in 1850 he would not even be alive. You go ask if he’d rather live like he is living or never have existed at all?

Ken July 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm


“When Malthus was alive there were about a billion people. At least some were living decent lives and many lived difficult but independent lives. Now some 1.5 billion live in abject poverty with starvation and disease and homocide and death from militias often a possiblitiy.”

Almost ALL of those one billion people who lived at when Malthus did lived in “abject poverty with starvation and disease and homocide and death from militias often a possiblitiy.” Today five billion live okay lives and three billion live fantastically rich lives. Add to that that violence in the world has drastically declined in the last few hundred years.

“the traffic jams”

In those things called CARS, the most liberating technology in history.

“the e Coli tainted beaches”

How many people died at those beaches and how many died in Malthus’s time of typhoid, measles, malaria, and had their lives destroyed or severely impeded by countless other diseases that today billions can just assume they will never get?

“the searing heat ”

The earth always had searing heat and we live in a relatively cool period over the last 500M years.


SaulOhio July 23, 2011 at 6:42 am

Nobody has in response to muir’s idiotic rant, mentioned the fact that the billion living in poverty today are living in the worst dictatorships on the planet. Given economic freedom, they would rise out of poverty very quickly and easily.

HaywoodU July 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm

“At least some were living decent lives….”

By today’s standards, most of those billion lived in poverty. Now you claim that 1.5 billion live in your so called ‘poverty’. The rest of the 7 billion are not ‘some’, they are most. Isn’t that progress?

Dan J July 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm

And the death rate of women while giving birth…..

Gun Knutt July 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Or to rephrase, what the USA needs is…more mexicans! amirite!

cricket cricket cricket

Economiser July 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm

In general, a person who would leave his or her hometown and risk arrest or death to immigrate to another country just for the chance of greater economic opportunity is someone I want as a fellow citizen.

River July 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm

But why would we want more people are who hard working, family oriented, and religious when we can have meth heads, crack addicts and welfare cheats. I think we should be able to trade out citizens, if a jury of 12 of your peers wants to trade you out for a better potential citizen we give you a passport to somewhere else and cancel your US papers. Of course who would take our undersireables. Just a joke of course. I personally want more Mexicans, Croatians, Africans, Indians or whoever can make ours a more prosperous and dynamic society.

vikingvista July 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

You don’t have to do anything to reduce undesirable behavior, just cut off its subsidies.

Don Boudreaux July 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

Me too.

River July 23, 2011 at 8:44 am

Sorry for lowering the conversation level. I do know the difference. My point is simple, immigrants seem to add to our overall well being. As economiser points out those whose make huge scarficies to get here have courage and a desire to make their lives better and they often add to the general welfare. While i have no data to support it, my hypothesis is on a per capta basis they do so at a rate higher than natural born citizens. Best I just keep my fingers off the key board in the future.

HaywoodU July 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I don’t think anyone here disagrees with you in principal.

MWG July 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I think you’re mistaking Cafe Hayek for

River July 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm

As a practical matter, on the the food issue, vast areas of the globe are not as productive as they can be. Not because technology or water or labor are unavailable but because the political environment prevents better utilization of resources. Argentina, Mexico and China are examples. Water is another much the same, if needed, the Mormons in the intermountain west in the US can show the world how to make the desert bloom. Given a free market, rule of law and property rights mans mind and the desire to make our lives by serving each other for a profit, there is no current practical limit. With 10 billion humans we are more likely to hatch an Einstein, Salk, Churchill, Lincoln or even a Steve Jobs than with 3 billion or 7 billion. Of course there is the possibility of a Stalin, Hitler, Mao or even the much much much less destructive Harry Reid but I will trust the races track record of weeding out the wrong political ideology over time.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:49 am

Yes, there’s the greater likelihood of a Hitler, Stalin, Pot, Tsung, (many Libertarian would add Lincoln to this list), etc. . . . Russia lost 40 million (or so) during WW2 – that’s more than some countries outright. Hence with greater population means each life is cheaper. “We lost 100 million? Meh, in a few years they’ll be replaced.”

Gil July 23, 2011 at 1:52 am

Gee, currently there’s no laws against large families so how many pro-people have ten or more children? In a few generations the pro-people will vastly outnumber the anti-people. After all, who ever makes the most babies control the future. If Ted Turner has more children than he thinks each family should have then pro-people should put their money where they mouth is and make babies. (And if their wives complain just tell the about how medical technology makes it safer than ever to pop out babies).

Ken July 23, 2011 at 5:59 am

It’s not JUST the number of children. What also matters is how young you are when you start to have kids. If my family started a new generation every 20 years, whereas your started every 30 years, then even if every couple had only two children, my family would be larger than yours. In 60 years, your family would include you and your wife, your two children and your four grandchildren, for a total of eight. Mine however, would include me and my wife, my two children, my four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, for a total of sixteen.


Gil July 23, 2011 at 7:06 am

Maybe it’s a coincidence that those who believe in having large families tend to start younger. Or maybe it’s simply a fact that older people are less fertile.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Did you even read my comment? Each person had the SAME number of children.

Reading comprehension fail.


Arvind July 23, 2011 at 4:46 am

I am from India – a country of a billion people. I don’t profess to know whether the world is under or over populated but I do know for sure that India sure is. Lack of space in cities, arable land, water resources, etc are destroying the ecology of that country. Most people who can leave usually do – initially temporarily but eventually permanently. Overcrowding is unpleasant and makes life a real grind.

Ever since the human population exploded into the billions, our planet has lost a huge number of other species and their habitat. It is certainly possible to fit everyone into Texas. But being humans we don’t seem to want to live in a crowded slum if we can help it. An exponentially growing population on a spherical planet is not sustainable. Even if currently it may not have got to that point.

Emil July 23, 2011 at 7:05 am

1) Also in India there are vast areas where no one lives, the overpopulation issue is not an Indian problem but a local problem for Mumbai, Delhi, etc, etc

2) People leave India because you have corrupt disfunctional government that keeps the population in poverty through misguided attempts to close down and micro manage ‘evil’ markets

Dan J July 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Should India embrace more economic freedoms, the resources required will be provided at a nominal fee…. But an affordable one, or else there would be no profit. More high rises to fit the masses and shops to support the population. I am sure the local cafe that feeds tens of thousands per day will only find itself with more food to feed more hungry mouths, should they come. Culturally, only the class system in India is less desirable. Maybe, it may hav been removed officialt, but it still exists in practice.
Be sure to visit and donate to the dialysis center in northern India that a friend of mine built as non-profit medical center in honor of his late wife. If you go… I will tell you exactly where it is located. Big heart of a man. 100% built on his own money.

John Galt July 25, 2011 at 5:37 am

Arguably, most species and ecologic destruction can be traced to government. City animal shelters are really pet concentration camps, the few remaining animals forcibly sterilized and made expensive by regulatory fiat.
All waters are doused in piscides to kill undesirable fish. Wild horses are hunted by helicopter and readied for slaughter auction by prisoners. Grasses & Woods are smothered in pesticides after being genocidally cleansed of their native protectors.
Buffalo and other herds were wiped out by railroad and road easements robbing countless property owners of their land.
In a few years, the Western U.S. will be our own doomed Sahel & Sahara, mostly due to tragedy of federally owned commons and bureaucratic paralysis and prohibitions.
(Or most likely not, because some entrepreneurs will forstall this fate with newly minted coins of invention)

Dallas Weaver July 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

The real limits to population are determined by the energy supply. With energy and food being interconvertable, all factors providing population limits can be translated into energy. However, we have no politically and economically viable solution to the long term energy needs of an expanding population. There are no violations of the laws of Thermodynamics and that does provide limits to our energy supplies.

SMV July 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

The limit to population is human imagination, innovation and creativity. You do not need government action to solve the energy supply problems we may face years from now. We just need the incentives that come from scarcity and higher prices.

Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, coal, natural gas, oil, crop waste, grass clippings, continued efficiency… all can produce energy when creativity meets cost effectiveness. More people plugged into the global economy will add their creativity and the rest will take care of itself.

Curt Doolittle July 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

RE: The real limits to population are determined by the energy supply. With energy and food being interconvertable,

Yes. That is correct. And moreover, moral arguments are nonsense. Political arguments are nonsense. The question of population is determined only how much energy an be converted and put to use.

What we claim (here and elsewhere) are benefits of our ‘technology’ and ‘limitless human creativity” is almost entirely attributable to our ability to convert energy stores to our immediate use. All consequential innovations are dependent upon that one set of technologies. We are coming very close to known physical limits of conversion. And while we are vastly ignorant of our own economies, due to the fact that we collect very poor data, and categorize it even more poorly, we are not vastly ignorant of the laws of physics.

Nor does History consist of ever-onward progress. Quite the contrary. It consists of multiple periods of regression to subsistence. In a world where we can all return to the fields, we just suffer. In a world where we cannot return to the fields, those who can’t are dead.

Black swans that cause these changes are not rare. They are just unforeseen and incalculable. Our only rational choice is to build a world that is not fragile. And to rail against those who create fragility.

I am not arguing with the general position that the current population is excessive. I’m arguing that the REASONS why it is excessive or not are not included in anyone’s argument above, and as such the statements above are nothing but naive egoistic folly. Or put in proper economic terms “an attempt to obtain a discount on current consumption by exporting risk onto others.”

It is probably not obvious that there is an identical correspondence between the argument for sound money, and the argument for preserving land against immigration. And if it is acceptable to immigrate, then it is acceptable to debase the currency. But that is another story altogether. The fact that current austrian thinking does not account for opportunity costs — from Mises onward through Rothbard, even though somewhat obtusely corrected by Hoppe, is either a oversight or a deception. I do not know. But Misesians do not account for land holding. If economics is limited in scope to money, and avoids status and opportunity costs, then is not a social science. It is a justification for plunder.

Gil July 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Really? Libertarians love bashing alternative energy sources as being nowhere near competitive with coal and oil.

Ken July 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm


Libertarians don’t bashes alternative energies. Libertarians bash political support of ALL energy sources. Currently these energy sources are NOT cost effective, but this doesn’t stop our idiot political class from stealing from taxpayers to pay for their pet alternative energies. Pet alternative energies that are not “better” for the environment, are not cost effective, nor produce the energy consumers now get from coal and oil.


Dan J July 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

As for solar and windmills, do the homework on how they are produced and effects. MIT did a preliminary study on effects from large windmill ‘plants’ and found temperatures of the surfaces over which they are built to have been altered by a degree or more. Over land they are increased and over sea they are decreased. The climatic changes, as religious zealots of global warming proclaim, can have an adverse effect.
Another issue that should be left to market forces rather than ‘buttinskis’ who believe they know what is best. Just put your Monet where your mouth is and leave others alone.

By the way, the current heat wave happens, from time to time. Detroit experienced 105* in 1934 and 102* in 1988. I remember the 102* temps. With the humidity, it felt like you were swimming, and our house had no climate control for summer.

Dan J July 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm

To think that the technology we have today is our limits of human ingenuity is to not acknowledge innovative history of man. I realize that many of us are impatient, but in due time whether it be in time of shortage or crisis, the technology will come. There is far too much to gain in profit or glory to simply remain stationary in our tech. Currently the technology is moving in direction of replacement of energy using devices.

Justin P July 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I love how some people just can’t accept that we are better off today than were were 200 years ago and that we are getting better everyday.
Do these people have kids, if they think the world is so bad? If so, what does that tell about them?

Kirby July 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Is the Marx an irony or a misunderstanding?

Gabriel July 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I’d argue that the planet is overpopulated but it just isn’t overcrowded yet.
There’s a big difference, in my opinion, between the space needed to house a population and the space needed to support them (food, fresh water etc.)

SaulOhio July 24, 2011 at 6:48 am

I would invite anyone who thinks that the Earth is overpopulated to leave.

Joe Cushing July 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Where should we go?

Smokey July 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Assuming a generous 1.5′x2′x6′ per person, the entire population of the planet could easily fit into a 1 kilometer sphere, with room to spare. The “overpopulation” canard is promoted to give an excuse for Big Government to save us from a non-existent problem.

And if the planet warms by another 1°C [unlikely, because the effect of CO2 is vastly exaggerated by the climate alarmist crowd], millions of acres of new farmland will be opened in places like Canada, Mongolia and Siberia. The demonizers of “carbon” [by which they mean carbon dioxide, a harmless and beneficial trace gas necessary for all life, and comprising only 0.00039 of the air] are trying to convince the public that a little more warmth is bad. It isn’t. It is cold that kills.

Darren July 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

That’s one big problem with the argument that “we should do something” about global warming. The potential positive benefits are never taken into account. The assumption is that any effects will be undesirable.

Cameron Murray July 24, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I agree that some arguments against population growth are flawed. However, there are economic arguments that suggest that high rates of population growth do not necessarily improve the wellbing of the existing population.

For example, high rates of population growth require duplication of capital, such as roads and houses. Existing people will be employed in this endeavour instead of other activities where investment might improve per capita productivity.

Also, the question comes up about whether declining populations are good or bad. For example, many developed countries have fertility rates below relacement. Is this a sign that for these countries (at least the majority of peopl residing there) the optimal population is actually lower than it currently is? In which case we can say that population growth is neither good nor bad – it just is. (this is my opinion)

What I don’t think is wise are subsidies or government programs to increase population. In Australia we have the baby bonus – a $5000 cash payment when you have a child. There is a strong push for a larger population and an opinion among many economists that a high rate of population growth is beneficial to existing citizens – indeed, much higher than the sum of individuals’ procreation decisions would suggest is optimal.

I outline some of these arguments in detail here against these moves.

Ryan Vann July 25, 2011 at 7:34 am

I’m not close minded to the idea that the Earth might have a carrying capacity, but you can’t burden the supposed science lovers out there to ever actually do the grunt work and calculate what that capacity might be. As such, I remain skeptical that the human population is anywhere near capacity.

Mike July 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

I’m not totally convinced, how about the living habitats of other creatures on Earth? It’s not just about us, you know.

Darren July 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm

In a billion years, every species currently in existence will be dead. Completely new species will have evolved. People think in such short timelines.

Joe Cushing July 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm

While I’m inclined to believe that there is room for more people, I’m not so sure I’d go as far as to say the world is underpopulated. The space people take up is not just the space they live in but also the space that is needed to produce everything they need to live. If you have ever driven across the Midwest, you have seen thousands and thousands of miles of cropland. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where every square inch of it has been turned into cropland. Sure, we can become more productive with the land, as we have in the past, but adding a lot more people will mean taking more wild land and turning into a field of one plant. I don’t like this at all. I wonder how much land is needed sustain a person. Not just their living space but their manufacturing space, crop space, shopping, parks, etc. I suppose one could just take all developed land and divide it by population to get the number.

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