This tempered voice from Thomas Kostigen pours some tepid water on the propaganda advocating population control. Sir David Attenborough, the well-known naturalist, came out in support of the Optimum Population Trust - a think tank that believes there are just too many people (themselves excluded, no doubt). Kostigen begs to differ and points out some of the inaccuracies in the models used to sustain what is essentially a neo-eugenics movement masquerading as an environmental cause.
"The Optimum Population Trust is a registered charity funded by membership, donations and bequests. It receives no political or government funding and is independent of political or commercial interests." At £15 a year basic membership that doesn't buy a lot of thinking, but a list of members and hence funders is currently unavailable.
The ghost that haunts this topic is that of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. Although he died in 1834 sadly his treatise "An Essay on the Principle of Population" didn't die with him and is summoned by every innumerate eugenicist ever since. "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison with the second." A better acquaintance with numbers would reveal how hollow the whole treatise is. Note that this is not a scientific theory but a hugely simplistic mathematical model based on... contemporary propaganda.
The Rev Malthus was a clergyman with little faith in humanity and a lot of faith in the power of money. He wanted more money given to the Church so that it could preach to the poor about how worthless they really were, except in the eyes of God. His treatise was to give a scientific veneer to a policy promoting Christian sexual morals - family planning being the current euphemism.
Kostigen challenges the model but not its creator. The infantile mathematical model is just not true. The declining birth rates in many industrialised countries shows how social changes affect population numbers, with much of the numerical growth coming from immigrants rather than indigenous births. The Malthusian "axiom" that populations grow geometrically, is just plainly false.
But the Optimum Population Trust likes to look at the other half of the Malthusian fantasy - the food supply. Even that cannot hope to increase arithmetically forever. One stark statistic noted in the article is that if everyone on the planet consumed as much energy as the average American then we would need five planet Earths! I don't know where the author got that figure from but, suspending disbelief and assuming it were true, surely that calls for a spirit of innovation, not a culling of humanity.
The thing that makes me highly sceptical is that there is a lot of important research on energy that is getting very little funding. I have written before on how Shell has pulled the plug on its alternative energy research. The drive towards biofuels rather than electric or hydrogen cars is taking more and more land away from food production. So is the much-feared food shortage actually being manipulated? Is this population control by stealth? We shall see, but if laws to curb the population were already in place then perhaps you wouldn't be here to read this. Malthus needs to be buried again!