Friday, September 18, 2009
Thomas Malthus: Prophet of overpopulation doom, or the first family planner?
The "Fewer Emitters" study, written by the London School of Economics' Thomas Wire at the behest of the Optimum Population Trust, makes a fairly straightforward point. If all the women in the world who already want to avoid or postpone pregnancy were given access to contraceptives, there would be fewer babies, and eventually fewer greenhouse-gas emitting humans.
The historical relevance of Malthus' work in any family planning study cannot be understated. In fact, Richard Ehrman's "The Power of Numbers" states that Malthus' "call for 'prudential restraint' -- by which he meant later marriage -- can be said to have opened the way for family planning."
This is a point that is also made in an upcoming study soon to be published by the World Health Organization: "Runaway population growth in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda," reports Bloomberg News, "where contraceptives are in short supply is exacerbating drought and straining fresh water supplies." The Optimum Population Trust goes one step further, however, by calculating the cost-benefit effectiveness of spending dollars on family planning as opposed to the roll out of low-carbon energy technologies. . . .