Malthusian theory about population growth
Thomas Malthus was an economist
who was the first person to suggest a detailed and systematic theory of the
growth of population. He published his ideas in his book known as the Essay on
the Principle of Population (1798).
The key principle of his ideas
was that as human population grows exponentially (doubling each time), then
resource production grows arithmetically (one by one). Therefore, eventually
there would be a point known as the point of crisis (which is depicted in
the graph of the figure below). This is where the population would
eventually exceed the level of resources available on the planet.
Malthus suggested two possible
outcomes that could arise as a result of the population out growing the
resources on the planet.
Firstly, he suggested that the
population would continue to outgrow the resources available, but the
population would soon be reduced due to a scarcity of resources on the planet.
This could be caused by such events like disease, famine and war. Therefore the
population would eventually dip below the amount of resources available on the
planet. However, after the decrease in population that would be present, the
population would soon rise again and as a result the same situation would
happen over again in a cycle known as positive checks by Thomas Malthus.
Secondly, Malthus suggested an
alternative perspective. This is where the population could prevent the food
shortages that would eventually arise. Such ways to prevent the population
exceeding the resources could be through abstaining from sex (in order to limit
the growth of population) or being more conscious with the resources that
everyone uses on a day to day basis. Overall, people would try and make the
decisions to increase food prices as the standard of living fell in a
sub-conscious way to therefore cut the population growth. This would prevent
population growth because the people that can’t afford the resources would
eventually die and cause the death rate to significantly increase among the
poorer or less wealthy people on the planet.
Overall, the Malthusian theory
about population growth and resources has some useful relations to the amount
people that our planet can hold and what the impacts of such a population could
be. This is because it brings about an idea that there will be a point where
the population will peak at. This is shown through both of Thomas Malthus’
ideas because they both suggest that there will be a point of crisis where the
population decreases as a result of limited resources through a number of
factors that were discussed above.