Modern Malthusians Still Wrong: New at Reason

Economic growth and environmental renewal go hand-in-hand


Weerpat Kiatdumrong/Dreamstime

Is economic growth environmentally sustainable? No, say a group of prominent ecological economists led by the Australian hydrologist James Ward. In a new PLoS ONE article—"Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible?"—they offer an analysis inspired by the 1972 neo-Malthusian classic The Limits to Growth. They even suggest that The Limits to Growth's projections with regard to population, food production, pollution, and the depletion of nonrenewable resources are still on track. In other words, they think we're still heading for a collapse.

I think they're wrong. But they're wrong in an instructive way. Ultimately, this group of ecological economists make the same mistake as Malthus and the Limits to Growth folks.