February 20, 2019
At the end of the 18th Century it was becoming apparent that overpopulation was something the human race would need to address for perhaps the first time. Advances in technology and the urbanisation that followed the Industrial Revolution had created a new set of challenges. These were most famously laid out in a 1798 book called An Essay on the Principle of Population, written by an English cleric called Thomas Malthus. The book helped to influence the nascent discipline of economics and informed the thinking of Charles Darwin when he wrote On The Origin of Species some sixty years later. The term Malthusian remains in use to this day when describing the central paradox laid out in the book. This paradox suggests that because population increases geometrically (doubling every 25 years by multiplication), while food production only grows arithmetically (by addition), the end result can only be depressed wages and ultimately starvation.