Washington, DC, March 6, 2000 – Environmental journalist Ronald Bailey proved Al Gore and his radical Green friends wrong today with his new article published in this month’s issue of National Interest. The article, a complete debunking of Malthusian doom and gloom, is excerpted from his chapter in the new book Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet, also edited by Bailey.
Thomas Malthus argued 200 years ago that human population would eventually outstrip food supplies leading to famine and human misery. "Malthus’ principle of population has proved to be one of the most influential and contested theories in history," notes Bailey. Indeed its influence can be seen even today in such gloomy works as Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb and periodic reports from the Worldwatch Institute.
These would-be prognosticators were and are wrong. Why? According to Bailey, they failed to understand the role of human ingenuity in creating, conserving, and expanding resources. "People possess a nearly infinite capacity to rearrange physical objects by creating new recipes for their use," notes Bailey. For example, heightened crop productivity has made food cheaper and more abundant than ever before in history and has resulted in millions of acres preserved for wildlife and more efficient use of freshwater resources.
Economic growth and technological progress make it possible for people to protect and preserve it. "We cannot deplete the supply of ideas, designs or recipes. They are immaterial and limitless…. Though far too many of our fellow human beings are caught in local versions of the Malthusian trap, we must not mistake the situation of that segment as representing the future of all humanity and the earth itself; it is, instead, a dwindling remnant of an unhappy past. Misery is not the inevitable lot of humanity, nor is the ruin of the natural world a foregone conclusion," concludes Bailey.
Ronald Bailey is available for interviews by calling CEI at 202-331-1010. He is also the editor of True State of the Planet (Free Press 1995) and numerous articles about environmental issues.
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