Walter Russel Mead ties it all together. Doing What Comes Naturally:
In the many, many years that have passed since I was a promising young sprout in pundit school the world has suffered through one Malthusian panic attack after another. The population bomb was going to create mass famines and untold disasters as those senseless third worlders bred themselves and us into a terminal food crisis.
The population bomb was going to create mass famines and untold disasters as those senseless third worlders bred themselves and us into a terminal food crisis. (Overpopulation was the specter that caused the Reverend Thomas Malthus to make the original Malthusian disaster prediction back in 1798.)
I have become so hardened that I might even reflect that most of the chicken’s earnest followers out there in the road are simultaneously running two Malthusian horror movies in their heads that have incompatible plots. One is the Peak Oil horror film, predicting havoc as our doomed and destructive dependence on hydrocarbons exhausts the natural supply, despoiling the environment and driving the prices to ruinous levels. The other is the Mass Burning horror movie, in which non-renewable hydrocarbons remain so cheap and abundant that we burn them in such accelerating, vast quantities that the CO2 they release dooms the planet. A graceless old reptile like me can’t help reflecting that one of these two ideas might be right, but that they can’t possibly both be. If we run out of fossil fuels, we will stop emitting so much CO2. If we keep emitting ghastly quantities of CO2, then fossil fuel must be pretty damn abundant, given the projected increase in developing world industrial activity.
Malthusians always have science on their side, and the science is usually pretty good. The processes involved are scientifically verifiable: the population is increasing at a certain rate; a single horse can haul so much freight so many miles in an eight hour day and, demonstrably, produces a certain amount of manure during that time. Do the math: the sums add up. And so, the Malthusians invariably say at this point, “What is wrong with you that you don’t panic? Are you a science denier, a dung skeptic? Can you not see that every day there is more manure on the streets? Do you realize that the dung isn’t just piling up in your neighborhood, but that dung removal totals are increasing all over the city? Are you a pawn of the cart horse industry, objecting to necessary regulations and taxes that are the only way to control the mounting road apple crisis before we all perish in a great stinking heap of horse hockey?”
Hat tip to Instapundit.