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Malthus, Boserup and Simon, Club of Rome Population and resources
Thomas Malthus was an English church minister. In 1798 he wrote his `Essay on the Principle of
Population as it affects the Futures Improvement of Society.' He argued that population grows at a
geometric rate, where as food supply grows at an arithmetic rate.
Population growth 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.
Food supply growth 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.
He said that this would inevitably lead to famine, unless mankind showed moral restraint and limited
its population growth.
Malthus's predictions did not come true during the 19th century. Although population grew rapidly in
Britain, food supply also grew more rapidly due to:
The agricultural revolution
The discovery and opening up to trade of new agricultural lands, particularly the North
Emigration from Britain and Europe to newer territories such as North America and Australia
However Malthus's ideas have not been forgotten. Some people, like Boserup and Simon, have
presented optimistic models that contradict Malthus's views. Others, like the Club of Rome group,
have presented neo-Malthusian or pessimistic models.
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Boserup and Simon
Esther Boserup was a Danish agricultural economist. In 1965 she put forward her theory to explain
why Malthus's ideas had not proved to be true. She said that increases in population will make
changes in agricultural methods. She saw that necessity is the mother of invention. In primitive
agricultural societies has led to, increased workforce, increased use of manure and fertiliser,
harvesting more than one crop per year and irrigation.…read more
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The Club of Rome
The Club of Rome model is currently the most influential of the three models. It was a
computer-based simulation of the future development of the world's population, on the most
up-to-date computing power available at that time. Here are some of the main points of the model:
Population cannot grow without food, food production is increased by growth of capital,
more capital requires more resources, discarded resources become pollution, pollution
interferes with the growth of both population and food.…read more