Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Malthus Myth

If you have ever scrolled through some of the comments under pro-life youtube videos, you've probably seen numerous claims that the world is overpopulated or heading towards overpopulation. Here is a quick youtube video that chronicles the history of the overpopulation myth started by Thomas Malthus. If you enjoy debate, you could try engaging some of the comments below this video on youtube.

Update: The author of the above video reports that this is the first in a series of videos yet to come. If you would like a more comprehensive analysis of this topic, it would be good to read Fr. Frank Pavone's article in the December 2008 edition of "This Rock Magazine" titled, Planned Unparenthood: The Myths of Overpopulation. Here is a link to that Article.

Here is the actual comment from the account that posted this video on Youtube.
Colinpri1 (21 hours ago)

Remember that this video is simply the first in a series about overpopulation. This video explains where the myth comes from, and videos that are more specifically about the actual myth will be coming soon. Stay tuned!


  1. But what would happen if everybody became good Catholics and obeyed God's injunction to be fruitful and multiply. Let's do the math.

    The world's population in year 2000 was 6.1 billion people. According to U.N. data, the number of people who were age 24 and under was 48% of world population, or about 3 billion. Let's assume that all of these 3 billion young people convert to Catholicism, get married, and raise good Catholic kids. I'll do population growth calculations for this group only and forget about the geezers 25 years and older. I'll also arbitrarily define a generation to be 33.3 years. That makes it easy. Three generations per century. OK, we're ready.

    If each generation of couples have only 2 children each, then the population will remain constant at 3 billion (ignoring the geezers).

    If each generation of couples have 3 children each, then the population increases by a factor of 1.5 after each generation. Hence, after each century the population will increase by a factor of 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 = 3.375. So in year 2100 we would have a population of 10.125 billion people. In year 2200, six generations from now, we would have about 34.2 billion people. And in year 3000, thirty generations from now, we would have 575 trillion people. Since the Earth's land mass is approximately 1.6 quadrillion square feet, which equals 1600 trillion square feet, each person gets about 3 square feet of land. Standing room only.

    Let's do one more. This will knock your socks off. Suppose future generations are really good Catholics and each couple has 4 children. Then the population doubles after each generation. After each century the population increases by a factor of 8. By 2100 we have 24 billion people; by 2200 we have 192 billion people; and by 3000 we have over 3 quintillion people (three times ten to the power of 18). That's 2000 people per square foot. Yowsa!

  2. mauman
    There is an update to this post that has a link to a Fr. Pavone article that you might want to read.
    Here is the link.