An excellent anti-Malthusian essay by Brendan O'Neill. It is hard to do it justice with an excerpt:
What this potted history of population scaremongering ought to demonstrate is this: Malthusians are always wrong about everything.
The extent of their wrongness cannot be overstated. They have continually claimed that too many people will lead to increased hunger and destitution, yet the precise opposite has happened: world population has risen exponentially over the past 40 years and in the same period a great many people's living standards and life expectancies have improved enormously. Even in the Third World there has been improvement "“ not nearly enough, of course, but improvement nonetheless. The lesson of history seems to be that more and more people are a good thing; more and more minds to think and hands to create have made new cities, more resources, more things, and seem to have given rise to healthier and wealthier societies.
Yet despite this evidence, the population scaremongers always draw exactly the opposite conclusion. Never has there been a political movement that has got things so spectacularly wrong time and time again yet which keeps on rearing its ugly head and saying: "˜This time it's definitely going to happen! This time overpopulation is definitely going to cause social and political breakdown!'
There is a reason Malthusians are always wrong. It isn't because they're stupid"¦ well, it might be a little bit because they're stupid. But more fundamentally it is because, while they present their views as fact-based and scientific, in reality they are driven by a deeply held misanthropy that continually overlooks mankind's ability to overcome problems and create new worlds.
The language used to justify population scaremongering has changed dramatically over the centuries. In the time of Malthus in the eighteenth century the main concern was with the fecundity of poor people. In the early twentieth century there was a racial and eugenic streak to population-reduction arguments. Today they have adopted environmentalist language to justify their demands for population reduction.
The fact that the presentational arguments can change so fundamentally over time, while the core belief in "˜too many people' remains the same, really shows that this is a prejudicial outlook in search of a social or scientific justification; it is prejudice looking around for the latest trendy ideas to clothe itself in. And that is why the population scaremongers have been wrong over and over again: because behind the new language they adopt every few decades, they are really driven by narrow-mindedness, by disdain for mankind's breakthroughs, by wilful ignorance of humanity's ability to shape its surroundings and its future.
I have written about zero-sum thinking a lot, but here is one example.