published Monday, April 11th, 2011

Exploding population

We are always naturally interested in population figures.

We often equate population growth reports with progress. But growing population can involve many problems, too.

In fact, the name Thomas Robert Malthus, a British scholar who lived from 1766 to 1834, gained lasting fame because of his controversial “Malthusian theory” on population.

In short, he thought, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” In other words, he believed we would outnumber our power to feed ourselves.

We were reminded of Malthus by recent reports that Communist China has about one and a third billion people, India roughly 1.2 billion, the United States about 309 million, Indonesia about 246 million, Brazil about 203 million, Russia nearly 140 million and Japan more than 126 million — all contributing along with smaller nations to a world population of about 6.9 billion.

Disease, war, famine and natural deaths constantly remove people from the Earth. But every day, there are more of “us,” some sadly having to fight starvation — and some of us eating too much.

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