Is the World Running Out of Resources? | Beaufort County Now | In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Is the World Running Out of Resources?

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the John Locke Foundation. The author of this post is Brooke Medina.

    In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population. In it, Malthus hypothesized that as the population grew, earth's resources would become increasingly scarce, leading to the elimination of large swaths of the population by way of war, plague, or starvation. Not a rosy picture.

    His incorrect calculations initially propelled calls for limiting population growth by way of abstinence and birth control in hopes of avoiding literal civilizational collapse. Yet, over a century later they would also inform the work of Margaret Sanger, the face of the American abortion movement. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.

    Fast forward to 1981 when economist Julian Simon published The Ultimate Resource, utterly undermining Malthus and Company's thesis. Simon argued, "that humans were intelligent beings, capable of innovating their way out of shortages through greater efficiency, increased supply, and the development of substitutes." The earth's population has increased by over 73% since the time Simon's book was published and it is clear that material abundance isn't slowing down anytime soon. Gratefully, Malthus' miscalculation was wrong by orders of magnitude.

Growth in resource availability between 1980-2019

    As you can see, availability of resources has increased exponentially over the past four decades. In fact, the earth was 570.9% more abundant in 2019 than it was in 1980! Why is that? Julian Simon argued that an increase in population beget an increase in ingenuity and innovation. The most valuable resource we have is that of human capital.

    Malthusianism at the movies (spoiler alert): I can't let this little soliloquy end without recommending you watch or rewatch Avengers: Infinity War with fresh eyes. When I watched it a couple of years ago, Thanos' behavior (Thanos is the chief antagonist) reminded me of the bankruptcy of Malthusianism, as Thanos' misguided desire to destroy half of the population was driven by a belief that there weren't enough resources to sustain the current population. This article on FEE does a good job of explaining it.
Go Back


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

hundreds of toxic used wind turbines blades abandoned at 3 Iowa sites
These politicians are almost never held accountable for the crimes the commit
Things are quiet this week on Jones Street in Raleigh, even as work on a state budget plan, which the governor may or may not sign, looms in the legislature.
Online education, especially as it has been implemented in the past year, isn’t for everyone.
McCrory "raises more than opponents combined"
The voices of those urging government officials to rely on individual liberty and personality responsibility as the founding principles relate to getting the COVID vaccine are getting louder.
The resolution highlights the dictatorship’s long record of oppression against pro-democracy leaders, political opponents, and civic movements.
A new poll found that Americans hold differing views on requiring COVID-19 vaccines for certain activities, although most Americans can find common ground.


The N.C. House will consider a bill Monday to allow mental health counselors to work across state lines.
Josh Hammer writes for the New York Post that conservatives have focused too much attention on the U.S. Supreme Court.
New report shows that the state’s outreach and data strategies led to substantial increase in vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic people
Ollie Mulligan, this week from an airport somewhere in the Northeast, talked about his upcoming flight home, about returning to his native Ireland, to County Kildare.
Do you believe that to try to negotiate and make concessions will only further erode the precarious existence that already threatens the integrity of our once-great republic?


Back to Top