Neo-Malthusian vs Anti-Malthusian

Students should be able to discuss the two opposing views (neo-Malthusian and anti-Malthusian) of the relationship between population size and resource consumption.

How many people can live on Planet Earth?


In 1798 Thomas Malthus argued that because of the natural human urge to reproduce, human population increases geometrically (1, 2, 4, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.). However, food supply, at most, can only increase arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.). Therefore, since food is an essential component to human life, population growth in any area or on the planet, if unchecked, would lead to starvation.

However, Malthus also argued that there are preventative checks and positive checks on population that slow its growth and keep the population from rising exponentially for too long, but still, poverty is inescapable and will continue.

Some supported his view, but others did not. In recent years the debate has become more heated due to the growing importance of issues like rapid global population increase, land & water degradation and climate change.

These videos provide some insight to the pro- and anti-Malthusian views

Evaluation of the opposing views

And here is a very frank take on the issue from The Onion, a satirical American online newspaper:

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