The abating of the “human plague”

By Razib Khan | January 23, 2013 11:35 pm

Recently David Attenborough made the news because he expressed some old fashioned population alarmism. I say old fashioned because we’ve come a long way since Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb was published. It’s been 44 year since the original edition, and it hasn’t aged well. Not only is the world healthier and wealthier than it’s ever been, but population growth is likely to taper off in a stabilization by the mid-21st century. If there are resource scarcity issues it won’t be because of human numbers, it will be because of the unsustainability of per capita consumption. And that doesn’t take into account technological change and innovation. Agricultural inputs aren’t static.

The real issue here is one of values. It probably is difficult to not have reduced biodiversity as humans have to exploit more and more of the world to maintain their lifestyles. A “population bomb” in the sense of the impending end of civilization is probably not a good medium term (i.e., ~50 years) prediction. But for large to medium sized non-human organisms we are a bomb or plague. The irony here is that a concern for the environment is to a great extent a post-materialist value, which emerges in the wake of the affluence which may be the greatest threat to biodiversity….

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Environment
MORE ABOUT: Environment

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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