Cull the Herd: Thomas Malthus' Theory
An examination of Global Overpopulation and possible solutions.
Thomas Malthus believed the global population will consistantly out-weigh the food supply.
April 10, 2022
Overpopulation is when the Earth cannot regenerate the resources used by the world’s population. Cull the Herd. It means separating or removing (and usually killing) inferior animals out of a herd to reduce numbers or remove undesirable traits from the group. We cull the herd of cows when we suspect they have a disease.
1996, when I was in high school (a long time ago), I heard grown-ups talk about how we were overdue for a war. Wars in general “culled the herd” in that they reduced the world population; pandemics too. The American Civil War alone had about 600,000 deaths. World War 2 had about 80 million. The Black Death (a pandemic) caused approximately 100 million. COVID-19 is around 6 million; some say we needed a purge. There are fewer wars. Was Corona an attempt to thin out the herd?
Ironically, wars increase the world population; people fear death and have more babies; Babyboomers. It’s unclear whether pandemics have the same effect, but some theories suggest that pandemics produce less competent children. Here’s an article.
Thomas Malthus was an English economist and demographer best known for his population theory. He said population growth will always tend to outrun the food supply, and that betterment of humankind is impossible without strict limits on reproduction. In general, Tom was wrong.
Bill Gates says healthy households have fewer children. Karl Marx said that overpopulation is a standard characteristic of capitalism. Most of Karl's theories blame capitalism, but that doesn't make him wrong. Socialist and Libertarian views vaguely agree, but there isn't a specific solution to overpopulation. The Free Market theory relies on our ideas becoming the ultimate solution. If we could just hurry up and populate Mars.
The evolution of our ideas is fascinating because it’s counterintuitive. In this article, George Monbiot says:
"Before long, this reproductive panic will disappear. Nations will soon be fighting over immigrants: not to exclude them but to attract them. The demographic transition leaves their aging populations with a shrinking tax base and an absence of critical workers. Until then, we should resist attempts by the rich to demonize the poor."
“Fighting over immigrants: not to exclude them.” A fascinating idea. In Hollywood, Oscar voters have become more and more integrated, causing an integration of Oscar nominees and, therefore, winners; a better quality of Oscars? Can immigrants be integrated into various cultures to upgrade the population? I wish I had the power to find out.
In fact, I want our culture to be so bold as to test the theory. We'd need a large sample size. I wonder where we could find it. Capitalism is all about competition. What if we taught people how to succeed for free? How much could we produce then? I know it can't be regulated by the government. History teaches that private practice makes the best proving ground.
For the record, we usually treat cows for a disease instead of culling the herd. Focusing on the weakest of the group usually improves everyone. There are some great ideas here, but I don't know if I have a solution. Overpopulation is enormous. I'm not sure if I alone can make a difference.