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It’s going to get worse before it gets better

You’d think things couldn’t get much more extraordinary and depressing these days as we continue to inhabit the dark days of the Brexit crisis, the President Trump era and goodness knows what else.

It is now 221 years since Thomas Malthus first published his Essay On The Principle of Population, presenting his theory that an ever-increasing human population was a potential danger to itself because it was close to inevitable that one day it would outgrow its capacity to exploit the world’s resources and feed its numbers.

Arguably, of course, Malthus was a man of his time and – perhaps understandably – had failed to appreciate the near-infinite ingenuity and ability of Man to come up with new inventions, new ways of creating wealth and indeed more intensive ways of farming and/or creating foodstuffs, as has happened

Others might ‘push-back’ on that statement in two ways:

Firstly, that – irrespective of the above – ultimately the world’s resources (fossil fuels, land, seas and indeed whatever new elements that scientists can find and/or create) are by definition finite;

And secondly, the ecology of the planet is such that ‘human activity’ and its accompanying baggage of cutting down, decimating, polluting, exterminating and laying waste to the natural resources and indeed the scale of the world’s land masses has a worrying and ultimately detrimental effect upon the delicate balances that keep the Earth the crucible of life that it is.

In other words, in summary, defenders of Malthus can reasonably maintain that the essential truth of his theory has not been disproven by the many wondrous advances made by the human race over the past two centuries.

As in 2109 we preoccupy ourselves with such ‘issues’ as whether our Huawei smartphones are going to continuing work now that the USA had blacklisted the company as a security threat, whether “our bum looks big in this?”, whether or not Botox is bad for you, who is going to be the next James Bond and whether or not the wholesale promotion of transgender rights over those of other deserving under-represented and under-privileged groups is the right way to go … some scientists and campaigners are ringing the alarm bells with increasing urgency and frustration at humanity’s apparent willingness to fiddle whilst Rome (or rather the Earth we live on) burns.

Cue David Attenborough’s most recent documentary and sundry ‘climate change’ and “Save The Planet”campaigns calling for our lords and masters to wake up and smell the coffee … (so long as its resourced from fair trade origins with sustainable production techniques, of course).

Here’s the latest one – a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as previewed by Phoebe Weston, science correspondent on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

About Lavinia Thompson

A university lecturer for many years, both at home and abroad, Lavinia Thompson retired in 2008 and has since taken up freelance journalism. She is currently studying for a distant learning degree in geo-political science and lives in Norwich with her partner. More Posts