Overpopulation and coronavirus. What is the connection?

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Say the name Malthus and you will hear angry words addressed to you. The journalistic elite continues to call erroneous the theory of population published in 1798 by an English priest, scientist, demographer, and economist Thomas Robert Malthus.

Malthus’s theory (which states that the number of people increases exponentially, and the means of subsistence in arithmetic progression) has never been realized due to human ingenuity in an exponential increase in food supplies. However, Malthus helped introduce the ecosystem theme into modern political philosophy and thereby enriched it.

He regarded man as a biological species, subject to the influence of the natural conditions and density in which we live on Earth. He predicted the political consequences of things like illness and hunger, as well as the low standard of living of the urban poor. Perhaps the reason Malthus is called erroneous is because somewhere at the basic level we understand that he is right.

To say that the world is overpopulated is a dangerous value proposition, because people must decide for themselves whether or not to have children with them. However, the overpopulated world will have a different and potentially dangerous geopolitical dynamic, writes Robert Kaplan, managing director of Eurasia Group, at The National Interest.

Without a doubt, human ingenuity can in principle solve any resource problem, although often not at the right time to prevent massive political upheavals. The history of the Earth and man never flows smoothly. Thus, water scarcity and desertification are indirect causes of the “Arab spring” and the war in Yemen.

While in relative terms, population growth is slowing, which leads to an aging planet, in absolute terms, the number of people continues to increase, primarily among young men in the most unstable countries, which leads to political upheaval. Although Malthus, as you know, was mistaken in a certain sense, his ability to accurately see the mechanisms of population growth and lack of resources help to understand the current era.

The Chinese coronavirus, which has become the most significant geopolitical event since the Great Recession of 2008-09, threatens the reputation and, possibly, the ultimate survival of some regimes. With the growth of the world’s population from 7.7 billion to almost 11 billion people by 2100, with an increase in people’s contact with wildlife in developing countries, as well as with the growth of intercontinental passenger air travel, pandemics will become a natural thing in the Neo-Malthusian world.

Heavy duty storms, earthquakes, droughts, floods and forest fires are common occurrences in Earth’s history. However, never before have they occurred in densely populated agglomerations and environmentally sensitive places where people may never have had to live in such large numbers. Since the world’s population has increased five-fold since 1900, even normal climatic and seismic changes – not to mention climate change – will lead to even greater loss of life and more extensive material damage as the number increases to almost 11 billion people.

Social networks are not directly related to population growth and urbanization, but they increase their impact by stimulating the psychology of the crowd. The more urban, more sophisticated and complex we become, the greater our conformism and herd instinct, and in everything from fashion to politics, although everyone says the opposite.

More people – more need for additional energy. Throughout much of modern history, up to the present, this has meant that hydrocarbons pollute and heat the atmosphere. This, in turn, led to political pressure in favor of cleaner energy. The gas revolution is a bridge to a cleaner future. Although perhaps this is a positive development, it is also indirectly related to population growth, since the race for technological innovations should outstrip the growing demand for them.

Nevertheless, the interactions of the people of the planet will intensify, largely due to the common neo-Malthusian problems that we continue to face. Thus, just as there will be an endless conflict, the awareness that we belong to the same species will increase.

We can prove to Malthus that he was mistaken only after solving the problems that he warned us about. At the moment, the mask on the face of humanity covers the nose and mouth.


This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.

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