Overpopulation

Tom Hanks Endorses 'Malthusian Theory' of Overpopulation

Malthusianism might make a good movie plot, but it is just fiction.

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HanksTodayNBC
Today/NBC

Yes, of course, Tom Hanks is out flogging his latest movie Inferno, the central plot of which involves an evil scientist who attempts to release a virus to kill off the world's excess population. Although both promote delusions about Malthusian overpopulation, the movie plot is even more dire than that of the novel of the same title by Dan Brown on which it is based. (See my colleague Jesse Walker's amusing review of the novel here.)

In any case, Tom Hanks on Today appears to be persuaded by Malthusian population doom prognostications. He told his NBC hosts that he had been taught the word "triage" by a history professor when he was a student at Chabot College. Hanks said that his professor told him that the word "represented the concept that eventually, the world will have too many people in it in order to subsist on its own." He added that that was what Inferno is about—"the quantum physics of overpopulation—in an instant there could be too many people on the earth. And actually the math does add up."

Well, while Malthusianism might make a good movie plot, it has certainly advanced the careers of many false prophets. Foremost among the false prophets of Malthusianism is Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. In his 1968 screed, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich endorsed the notion of "triage" by which he meant that countries would be ranked by their ability to feed themselves. If they were deemed to be too overpopulated, then food aid would be cut off. For example, Ehrlich stated in 1968 that he agreed with an expert who predicted that India couldn't "possibly feed 200 million more people by 1980." Actually, India's population grew by 170 million between 1968 and 1980 and the country was by then exporting grain to the Soviet Union.

To control the world's burgeoning population Ehrlich proposed the idea that the world's governments might introduce sterilants into supplies of water or staple foods. But he decided the notion was impractical due to "criminal inadequacy of biomedical research in this area." While Ehrlich did not suggest releasing a virus to reduce surplus population, Britain's more bloody-minded Prince Philip did. "In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation," said the consort of the U.K.'s queen in 1988.

With regard to Hanks' odd claim that the "math does add up," I suspect that he may be thinking of Ehrlich's famous lily pad growth analogy. As one contemporary Malthusian explains it: "A farmer's pond had a tiny lily pad that was doubling in size every day. He was warned that it would choke the pond in 30 days. He didn't worry about it for 28 days because it seemed so small. On the 29th day it covered half the pond. He had to solve the problem in one day."

World population was 3.5 billion in 1968 and is now 7.4 billion. Despite the latest rejiggering of the U.N.'s population trend projections, most demographers believe that the world's population will never double again. So much for lily pad analogies.

Hanks is a wonderful actor. He should make it clear that his movie is based on fiction. Otherwise he may mislead his fans about the real and positive prospects for the human future.

For more background on the myths of overpopulation, see Reason TV's interview with filmmaker Jessica Yu about her documentary Misconception below.

NEXT: Hillary Clinton: Feminism's False Prophet

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  1. Mama always said overpopulation was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

    1. Clearly Forest, the answer is government control of food programs and health care programs that prioritize the populations’ needs.

      You know what I think…..

      Did you hear what I said!

      1. Oh man. I can’t be standing in line for my soylent ration and catch the latest on netflix.
        Can hire a Mexican?

        1. Ron said: “Although both promote delusions about Malthusian overpopulation, the movie plot is even more dire than that of the novel of the same title by Dan Brown on which it is based.”

          How does the movie’s plot differ from the books? Di you like it? Are you keeping us in suspense? Is it a “TUNE IN TOMORROW!!” situation?

        2. Naw man – you got municipal WiFi. Paid for by taxes on the rich people in town. Don’t forget that you are forbidden from complaining about outages or slow connection speeds in your mandatory social media updates.

  2. Yeah well he’s a famous mazillionaire and you’re just some puppet for Big Destroy-The-Planet-Corporations, so who cares what you think?

    1. Sometimes I forget that being a mazillionaire is good if you’re a leftist.

  3. “the quantum physics of overpopulation – in an instant there could be too many people on the earth. And actually the math does add up.”

    The quantum physics of overpopulation? There are too many electrons in humans!

    Fucking christ

    1. Give him a break, I’m sure he fucking loves science.

      1. ha ha. Consider that stolen.

      2. He’d really like to grab science by the pussy anyway.

    2. Some of the more loony leftists say 500 million is where the earth’s population should be to ensure the wellness of Mama Gaia. Some of them are even ok with exterminating the other 6 or 7 billion to get there.

      1. If they really believed that, they would all move to a state with assisted suicide and get on with it.

      2. That’s what I enjoyed about the movie “Kingsman.” They took this notion and ran with it. Samuel L. Jackson played exactly such a loony leftist, complete with hipster glasses and a lisp.

        It was even more appropriate that he handpicked a contingent of TOP MEN from various countries to be his chosen survivors.

        I know the message wasn’t lost on some of my more proggie friends, because they made it a point to complain that an otherwise decent comedy-action movie was “ruined by a ridiculous story idea.” It hit a little too close to home, I guess.

        1. That movie, and the concept behind it, is behind a lot of thought on the left but it’s usually kept hidden behind the mask of ‘sustainability’ and ‘green energy’. Sometimes the mask slips, and you’ll see straight through into the eye’s of someone who think’s they are one of the few chosen and responsible bloodline’s that should maintain Earth as an endless garden of their amusement. The fact they think most other people should be dead because they have icky beliefs and use up all their plastic is the central premise, while the claptrap surrounding it is the window dressing.

          I’ve known too many people that let the mask slip that were rabid leftists to take these people at their word. They don’t necessarily think all those people should be shot, no sir. They wouldn’t have a problem with Ehrlich’s methods though, since they don’t need to do anything to get those results. They just have to sit back and forget to send food.

          For your own amusement, start with the premise that there are too many people and the Earth can’t sustain them all and see how far you can work your way backwards to the idea that people need to be rounded up and killed to save Earth. You’ll be scared by how close to the camps most of these people will come before having a hint of an ethical dilemma.

      3. Yep. Many Proggy leftist actually believe that shit. If they could actually make that happen they would literally be a THOUSAND times worse than Hitler.

    3. You can’t really know both the population of the earth and how fast its growing at the same time.

      This is known.

    4. Damn, I was going to say the same thing. He’s just putting big words together and thinking he’s smart. These actors can barely read- why should we listen to anything they say?

    5. What, you didn’t know that quantum physics is causing humans to reproduce? There’s a verse in the Bible that says something like ‘Go forth and do quantum science!’. That means have children. DENIER!

    6. Triage means: “represented the concept that eventually, the world will have too many people in it in order to subsist on its own.”?

      Combined with the quantum physics comment, I’ve never been a fan, but I had no idea he was a moron.

  4. Hanks is a wonderful actor. He should make it clear that his movie is based on fiction.

    Except Hanks doesn’t think it’s fiction so he won’t be able to clear anything up.

  5. He peaked with The ‘Burbs.

    1. Highly underrated movie, mainly due to Bruce Dern. “If that barking rat of yours takes one more dump on my lawn, just one more, I’m gonna catch him and staple his ass shut!”

      1. “Red rover, red rover, send Art right over.”

        1. “There go the goddamned brownies!…….here ya go, sonny, a little something for the ol’ sweet tooth”

          1. “Hey Rumsfield, Dude, what are you doing with a Gun”. “Shut up and paint your goddamn house”.

            1. “And stop calling me Shirley”

            2. Smells like someone’s cooking a goddamned cat over there

  6. There goes Ron being all optimistic about the future again. *eye roll*

  7. Looking forward to a thread full of measured comments about the clearly wrong opinion of one of this generations most beloved actors.

    1. Why are actors beloved?

      Maybe we do need population control.

      1. Actors are beloved because their performances bring us hours of pleasure and entertainment and emotional release. Hanks himself has starred in no fewer than 11 classic movies in the past 30 years or so.

        1. I did not know that.

        2. Sadly that status for some reason translates into “beloved for their intellectual acumen.”

        3. and three of them were with Meg Ryan. Bonus question can anyone name them. Hint in one Meg plays two parts.

          1. Actually she plays three parts in Joe Versus the Volcano.

            1. She was pretty good as Wilson in Castaway.

              1. She also played all of the presidents in Forrest Gump. True Story.

                1. She doubled for Michael Clarke Duncan in ‘Green Mile’.

                  1. Its hard to tell – all those scenes were shot from behind.

              2. That was her? I guess being in costume made me her face seem less punchable.

        4. I was trying to come up with 11…do you include all the Toy Story movies? My list is short..Big, The Green Mile and Splash. I don’t think I liked any of the others much.

          1. Toy Story 1-3, Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, Sleepless in Seattle, A League of Their Own, Joe Versus the Volcano, the ‘Burbs, Big, etc etc

            So more than 11 depending on your tastes.

            1. I think Cloud Atlas is an extremely underrated movie

            2. No love for Bachelor Party?

            3. Loved “The Ladykillers”. But it’s Cohen bros so couldn’t suck.

        5. If he only spent as little time talking in real life as he did in Castaway, it’d be a start.

      2. Give the man the respect he deserves. He was in a movie about World War II. Which led to him being a consultant on other projects about World War II. Which is just like participating in World War II.

        (Note to younger Americans: Tom Hanks did not fight in World War II)

    2. Bill Murray is one for whom I will not tolerate negative criticism. The man is utterly lovable. Tom Hanks might be the best actor currently living, but he’s no Bill Murray.

      1. I heard that Murray, when dining at a restaurant, will steal fries off strangers’ plates, then tell them “Nobody will believe you if you tell them that Bill Murray stole a fry off your plate.”

        1. You see? That’s why I love that guy.

        2. A friend of a friend was in a hotel in New York and bumped into Bill Murray in the hallway. Naturally, he asked for an autograph, which Mr. Murray declined to give. The guy walked away, dejected. All of a sudden, Bill Murray comes running down the hall, tackles him to the ground, and pins him, and then whispers in his ear: “No one will ever believe you.”

          It’s a thing he does.

          Fun fact: Bill Murray is also the only non-Wu Tang Clan member who is contractually authorized to steal that $2 million album back from Martin Shkreli.

        3. I’d respond ‘no one will believe me if I told them I did two years for cutting off Bill Murray’s fingers, either’.

      2. This. Murray is one of the few actors I would watch a movie just to see that actor. Hanks is not one of those.

        1. Bill Murray makes a fair share of shitty movies.

          1. And Tom Hanks makes numerous movies I have zero interest in seeing.

            What’s your point?

            1. Gotta admit, it’s fun watching Hugh do this. A unique shtick at least.

              1. I would think that Mr. Hanks already has someone to perform oral on him. Maybe not.

                1. He’s married, so no. Ba dum TSH

        2. Have you seen his interviews for GB2016? It’s painful how little shit he gives about that stupid reboot.

    3. Uh hugh, you do know that he only played a chick? You don’t have to white knight for him.

  8. Just saw Natl Geographic is pimping another doomsday special, complete with “you won’t believe what happens next” hipster scientician quotes. DOOM!

    1. Nat Geo carries the journalistic weight of TMZ. Only with uglier people to report upon.

  9. *sigh*

    Another Hollywood actor proves himself to be a complete moron.

    1. Don’t let it get you down, dude. Remember that the core skill set of actors is, well, acting – feeling things and emoting. While this does not preclude an actor from being logical, well-informed, etc, actors are not your go-to pool for the thinks. I’ve never understood why the general public thinks entertainers have any special insights into politics, etc.

      Heddy Lamar who did the math which became the theoretical basis of spread-spectrum radio is a notable exception, but she is not typical.

      1. People have been wondering that since Euthyphro if not longer.

  10. The Malthusians and Luddites will always be with us.

    1. Just wait until the AI robot overlords enslave us all. You’ll be wishing the Luddites had saved us.

      1. I’m sure you’re right, but our current overlords gotta go, and if that’s what it takes…

        1. This is how it starts, and then you end up impaled on a tree travelling backwards through time.

  11. As PJ O’Rourke noted, worrying about overpopulation is just the politically correct way to be racist. It’s always those other people that there’s too many of.

    1. “Just enough of me, way too much of you” is how he termed it.

    2. Africa is just overflowing with “those people”. [shudder]

    3. overpopulation is just the politically correct way to be racist. It’s always those other people that there’s too many of.

      I am totally going to steal the shit out of this quote.

      1. O’Rourke’s specific example was that (at the time of writing) Fremont, California had the same population density as Bangladesh, yet no one felt the need to throw charity concerts on behalf of the population crisis in Fremont.

  12. If Inferno is about “the quantum physics of overpopulation”, then it is obviously nonsense.

    Not because quantum physics is nonsense, though it often seems that way, but because it has absolutely nothing to do with overpopulation.

    1. It’s based on a Dan Brown novel.

      Of course it is obviously nonsense.

    2. Have you seen the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’?

      Killed by bad science again!

      1. Big Picture Science did a podcast on scientific accuracy and movies. They were pretty merciless on inaccuracy but, when it came to The Day After Tomorrow, Shostak said something along the lines of, “well, the climate change was not accurately portrayed but, because the director had an important point to make, it’s OK.”

  13. As one contemporary Malthusian explains it: “A farmer’s pond had a tiny lily pad that was doubling in size every day. He was warned that it would choke the pond in 30 days. He didn’t worry about it for 28 days because it seemed so small. On the 29th day it covered half the pond. He had to solve the problem in one day.”

    Malthusians have this penchant for committing Ceteris Paribus fallacies every time they come up with these ridiculous scenarios, where humans are considered unthinking organisms that reproduce by instinct with only nature to serve as check. There’s an underlying and obnoxious disdain for people in comments such as Hank’s and from other Malthusians. There’s NO question in my mind that these people are closet eugenicists.

    1. Interchangeable pieces. When you’re a Top Man you look down at the peons and say, “Hey, let’s move half those pieces over there.” “Umm, many will die if you do that.” “Greater good. Now do it.”

    2. That scene in ‘The Matrix’ where Smith is talking to a captured Morpheus. ‘Every other species instictively reaches a natural equilibrium . . .’

      I just wanted to scream YES! BECAUSE THEY BREED UNTIL THEY STARVE TO DEATH BECAUSE THEY’RE DUMB ANIMALS YOU MORON – there’s nothing special there.

      1. Or because there’s an epidemic or earthquake or something; those are “natural” occurrences, too.

      2. That scene in ‘The Matrix’ where Smith is talking to a captured Morpheus. ‘Every other species instictively reaches a natural equilibrium . . .’

        Because nobody’s ever had a well-constructed, thoroughly-vetted, and time-tested computer program consume resources disproportionately and crash whole systems before.

        1. Had Morpheus been more than semiconscious in that scene, that would’ve been an awesome comeback.

    3. If Malthusians were correct, the reproduction rate would be higher in developed countries, which have way more resources to expand population, than in undeveloped countries.

      In fact, we universally see the exact opposite pattern. It’s empirically clear that once the threat of childhood mortality is eliminated, our species reproductive strategy is to use excess resources to increase the quality of our offspring rather than the quantity.

      1. Not only do we see the opposite pattern, but we’ve seen that once these developing countries reach certain economic milestones, their population increases take sharp and sustained drops.

        Poor people have children because for poor people children are their retirement fund. But children a re huge pain in the ass to raise (despite everyone saying how wonderful kids are) – which is why rich people have fewer of them.

      2. In fact, we nearly universally see the exact opposite pattern.

        Until recently, the US was literally an exception. It’s becoming increasingly less exceptional.

        1. Wasn’t that exceptional characteristic explained mostly by immigration from outside the country? The U.S. was (still is?) the exception among the developed world because it had a substantial influx of individuals from the less developed world, who maintained their reproductive habits for a generation or more.

          Catholicism went from a despised minority religion to the largest single religion by the proliferation of children by Catholic immigrant parents.

  14. I seem to recall a movie that came out fairly recently that had a plot similar to this. Evil/mad scientist being concerned about over population… certain connected political individuals being saved… lots of induced rioting among the plebes… and buttsex.

    I can’t imagine this movie will be better than Kingsman–considering I’m 100% certain it will not end in implied anal.

    1. Re: Riven,

      I can’t imagine this movie will be better than Kingsman–considering I’m 100% certain it will not end in implied anal.

      And with a Scandinavian princess, no less.

    2. Kingsman was so shockingly, unapologetically anti-progressive, there’s no chance it will ever be replicated. Some people here complained about the Westboro Baptist-esque scene at the church, and I agree it was a little ham-handed, but the point as I saw was that none of those bigots were violent until the evil scientist intervened. The ultra-progressive Zuckerberg-standin caused the violent mayhem.

      1. I liked The Kingsmen except for a few scenes that I found kind of disturbing because I felt they were trivializing rather horrific violence (e.g. the church riot was treated like it was something hilarious).

  15. Another world war. Sounds like that’s what we need help thin the herd. But it will have to be old people sent off to fight and die in it, as the remaining people will need the young to feed Obamacare for the rest.

    1. Obamacare is a hungry god, we must feed it the blood of the young to satiate it. Never anger that god, or it will abandon us to it’s wicked brother, Single Payer, that will bring about the end of days.

  16. Hanks is intrinsically paternalistic.

    1. Hanks is a useful especially idiot.

  17. Triage is just a french word for STFU.

    1. Voulez vous triage avec moi, ce soir?

  18. ” the movie plot is even more dire than that of the novel of the same title by Dan Brown”

    what is this I don’t even

  19. So, does Hanks think we can be saved by TOP.MEN?

    1. “Spalding!” is the new “Sparticus!”

  20. “triage” by a history professor when he was a student at Chabot College. Hanks said that his professor told him that the word “represented the concept that eventually, the world will have too many people in it in order to subsist on its own

    That’s not what it means. You are an idiot.

    the quantum physics of overpopulation – in an instant there could be too many people on the earth

    Wow, you *really* are an idiot. Pro tip: don’t use words if you don’t have the slightest clue what they mean.

  21. Tom, you’re better off if you just stick to what you know.

  22. The math does add up. Math always does, because it’s science. Like chemistry, where when you add chemical A to chemical B it’s always going to produce a certain result every time. You know why things didn’t work out the way Ehrlich assured us they would, they must, the way the math and the biology dictated? Because human beings have free will and can choose to alter the outcomes. Human behavior is not predestined and inalterable the way numbers and atoms and physical forces are.

    So what kind of person sees other people and their actions as nothing more complicated than a rock rolling down a hill, a heated gas expanding, or two non-parallel lines intersecting? What sort of person views the great mass of humanity as nothing more than a problem to be solved, like pieces arrayed on a chessboard incapable of acting under their own volition? A Hillary?

    1. Waaaay back in the day, I had a literature professor tell me I could write a paper on Tartuffe from either a Marxist or Malthusian perspective. I remember thinking when she said that, “We have all kinds of music, country and western.” Freewill is not something these people ever take into account. Ruins the victim status and therefore undermines the revolution they will power with the anger of the “victims”.

    2. You know why things didn’t work out the way Ehrlich assured us they would, they must, the way the math and the biology dictated? Because human beings have free will and can choose to alter the outcomes. Human behavior is not predestined and inalterable the way numbers and atoms and physical forces are.

      That’s . . . not why. His ‘predictions’ were wrong even if free-will is an illusion. The reason ‘his math didn’t add up’ is because he was using the wrong values for his variables and he failed to include a huge number of variables altogether.

      Simply put, he looked at a narrow window of human history and plotted the ‘food production’ and ‘population growth’ curves out. But his core assumption is that no disruptive technological progress would happen. But it did and does. Hell, agriculture itself is so disruptive of a technology that you could reasonably say that its advent was one of the first technological singularities – things were so different after it that you could not have made a successful prediction based on earlier data.

      And, to drum up support and notoriety, he explicitly denied the possibility of disruptive technologies upsetting his *models*. After all, ‘we’re all going to die – unless one of these several technologies being developed at this very moment’ doesn’t get you on the news as consistently as a plain old ‘WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!’

    3. So what kind of person sees other people and their actions as nothing more complicated than a rock rolling down a hill, a heated gas expanding, or two non-parallel lines intersecting? What sort of person views the great mass of humanity as nothing more than a problem to be solved, like pieces arrayed on a chessboard incapable of acting under their own volition?

      Anti-human; a person who lacks respect for human dignity.

    4. So what kind of person sees other people and their actions as nothing more complicated than a rock rolling down a hill, a heated gas expanding, or two non-parallel lines intersecting? What sort of person views the great mass of humanity as nothing more than a problem to be solved, like pieces arrayed on a chessboard incapable of acting under their own volition? A Hillary?

      The people doing the first thing are not necessarily doing the second thing.

      I view the *world* as the former – and consider its majesty and beauty enhanced by it – but am not interested in ‘fixing the world’ or consider people to incapable of acting under their own volition.

      But there’s a world of difference between genuine free-will and being free to choose but constrained by built-in imperatives. I don’t believe in the former but I do believe people are the latter.

  23. It’s been a while since I read Inferno, but wasn’t the premise that an insane person believed the world was overpopulated and decided to do something about it?

    If so, isn’t Tom Hanks equating himself with an insane person?

    I know, too subtle for people who think someone else should solve their problems for them…

  24. And why does the opinion of an actor equate to news?
    Fiction about fiction is still fiction. Like certain politicians speeches.

  25. . . . had been taught the word “triage” by a history professor when he was a student at Chabot College. Hanks said that his professor told him that the word “represented the concept that eventually, the world will have too many people in it in order to subsist on its own.”

    Either Hanks barely remembers what he was taught or that history professor was a moron. Because that’s not what ‘triage’ means. Would be better if he had asked his English professor or a medical professional.

  26. “the quantum physics of overpopulation – in an instant there could be too many people on the earth. And actually the math does add up.”

    Well, Hanks is definitely off my list of actors who sort of know what they’re talking about.

    And that mis-use of ‘quantum’ gets him added to the list of ‘woo-loving idiots’.

  27. Overpopulation is interesting because most people seem to believe it but there’s no evidence for it, and all the evidence against it.

    Population has continued to grow throughout history. Prosperity grew as well.

    Even on a more micro level a man living in a the woods alone will have less than a man in a sense city for the most part.

  28. Famous actor knows sciencey words and has no idea what they refer to. “Quantum physics of overpopulation” indeed.

    1. I didn’t understand what that movie was trying to tell me. Although I enjoyed it.

      1. I sincerely apologize for being that guy, but: read the book. Maybe the best novel of the previous decade.

  29. In any case, Tom Hanks on Today appears to be persuaded by Malthusian population doom prognostications.

    So, in the movie the scientist is the hero?

  30. I am confident that “over population” (a goal post movable term if there ever was one) won’t occur. Too many natural forces will bound the human race. We’re not nearly as clever as we think we are. If nothing else the “low impact illness coupling with high speed vector” versus the “high impact illness with low speed vector” hump will be overcome and a “high impact illness with high speed vector” will evolve on its own, without “science’s” help. It will be population density driven, and when a certain density is reached, the “high/high” will evolve and thin the herd. And I’m not smart enough to Pre-Cog what’s the better option – preventing the density described or letting it happen. I can barely make a decision about lunch.

    And, in the end, if we’re going to go with the math, I read a few years back that the statistical probability is 99% man will be extinct somewhere over the next 19,000 years. The likelihood it’s over my, or my children’s, lifetime is infinitesimal, so what’s the problem? As a humanist, I am concerned about the humans alive NOW, not theoretical humans-to-be under theoretical timelines that justify putting fascists in charge.

    1. the statistical probability is 99% man will be extinct somewhere over the next 19,000 years

      I’d love to see how that was calculated. I imagine it’s much like the Drake equation. Bullshit in, bullshit out.

      1. I don’t remember. I tried a search for it. Didn’t find it. Didn’t buy much into it then, merely serves a purpose to show that, in the end, man will die out at some point. Fantasies about criss-crossing the galaxy are just that. We’re on this rock, we’re pretty much in charge, but there’s plenty of icky stuff that likes to feed on us (or our cells) and we’re bound by the same natural forces that keep bacteria from multiplying to the size of the earth in a week’s time. Life feeds on life on this rock. And eventually both the buzzards AND the worms eat at our expense.

        When man dies out is in the misty future. My cosmology doesn’t entertain the idea that this is a good or a bad thing. It merely is to be. A fact that no amount of fascism today is going prevent, with all due respect to Zagar and Evans AND Tom Hanks.

    2. All populations of all living things are bound by limiting factors. Any system will eventually reach it’s carrying capacity and when that happens, reproduction reaches it’s equilibrium. The only time it doesn’t reach a natural equilibrium is when some constraint is artificially lifted, like an algae bloom as we have come to know them, being possible only when an artificially high amount of phosphates are running into the farm pond. Similarly, the human economy will put natural constraints in place in the form of “cost”, it’s when you artificially remove or alleviate those costs that an unsustainable course is charted. To date, the most chronic and effective enabling factor for unsustainability in human economies is government, more specifically the leftist ideologies and radical egalitarianism that drive modern government.

      1. The key factor that Malthusians don’t understand is that those constraints are not fixed. They change over time. And humans, being intelligent and sentient beings, can move those constraints.

        It amazes me that so many people who claim to believe in evolution don’t seem to actually apply the underlying premises to the real world.

        1. They change over time. And humans, being intelligent and sentient beings, can move those constraints.

          Absolutely. Though it’s worth pointing out the difference between moving those constraints through ingenuity, markets and rational voluntary action versus artificially mitigating those constraints through theft, extortion and government redistribution of resources. The latter will inevitably lead to catastrophe.

          1. I think a better way to phrase it is that stealing and using the stolen proceeds to pay for unproductive activity moves the constraints closer not farther away. And failing to allow capital concentration and exploitation ensures that, even in an otherwise perfect world, the constraints will never move farther away.

            1. Imagine for a moment, a population of people somewhere in the world who don’t have the wherewithal to grow their own food, let alone have sanitation and respect for property rights. Far fetched I know, now imagine that governments starting dumping resources on that place in the hopes that everything will magically get better. The population explodes and the domestic economy outside of those handouts becomes even more depressed because it’s too hard for producers of food or other products to compete with free shit. The population of that area swells with all the new resources at their disposal, but no real development is taking place, just population growth. Then one day, for whatever reason, the gravy train stops. That population is fucked, their population growth and the maintenance of that population hinged entirely on the gravy train. You’ll see mass starvation, war and exodus on a scale that should make the original circumstances of that population seem downright utopian.

              That is the only kind of “over-population” we should be talking about and it is real.

  31. *completely distracted by Jessica Yu*

  32. Ooh, Chabot College. That’s like the Sacramento State of junior colleges. I’m so impressed.

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