NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 21, 2012

The idea that life on earth can be sustained by limiting the growth of the world's population has been around for a long time.  "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man," wrote Thomas Malthus in his famous 1798 treatise, "An Essay on the Principle of Population," says Kevin Mooney, an investigative journalist for the Pelican Institute in Louisiana.

Malthus argued that population growth was harmful to the earth and a threat to human populations.  His view continues to resonate today among the academics and political figures who are well-positioned to influence national and international public policies.

This movement formerly focused its efforts on demonizing the fossil fuels industry in the name of protecting the world from climate change.  However, when it came to light that much of the scientific evidence for global warming was unreliable, the movement lost steam.

  • A 2010 Gallup poll showed 48 percent of Americans believed the seriousness of global warming was exaggerated, up from 31 percent in 1997.
  • Similarly, 42 percent of Germans feared catastrophic warming, down 20 points from 2006.
  • Only 26 percent of Britons believed in manmade climate change.

Instead, the environmental lobby now focuses its efforts on a two-pronged strategy: lessening the impact of man's activities on the environment, and reducing the number of people who perform those activities.  The prior is addressed by the everyday tactics of the Environmental Protection Agency, but the latter remains the business of well-funded non-governmental organizations.

  • Population Connection is an organization based in Washington D.C. (claiming 140,000 members) that advocates that the global fertility rate of 2.5 must be reduced to a sustainable 2.1 via family planning education.
  • The Worldwatch Institute, with partners in 40 countries and millions in revenue, dominates U.N. environmental conventions by arguing the accelerated population growth of the past decades drove a wedge between mankind's long-term sustainability and its present course of action.
  • Perhaps most heinously, the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain manipulated data to justify global warming alarmism, helping to give rise to the entire movement.

The argument that the earth is incapable of providing for an expanding human population is without scientific basis, and falls under the lightest of scrutiny efforts.  Governmental entities should be sure to protect themselves from the influence of such alarmists.

Source: Kevin Mooney, "Sustainability," Capital Research Center, April 2012.

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