Sunday, 11 September 2016

Did he really think before writing?

I'm almost halfway through Neil Oliver's A History of Ancient Britain. It is an interesting and readable account of the (pre)history of Britain from the arrival of first people up until the Romans. But it is, unfortunately, marred by some absolute clangers.

Perhaps my favourite so far is about the size of the population of the world.
But for all that, we are finally and undeniably too many. The day will surely come, and soon, when the latest empty mouths and naked backs demand food and clothes from the world - and the world will have nothing more to give (p. 66).
I mean hasn't the whole Club of Rome/Population Bomb stuff died already?

One could go all Julian Simon here but a couple of obvious points should made one think about Oliver's claim: 1) we have over time become more productive in agriculture as in other areas and 2) population growth rates decline as people become richer; and people are becoming richer. Together both these points argue that the world will have enough to give to future mouths and backs.

To me it is far from "undeniable" that we are too many.

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