Concern for overpopulation is a fairly recent phenomenon. Until the 18th century, the focus was more on increasing the human population, which grew slowly in spite of high birth rates. This is likely due to factors that we worry less about today, such as war, disease, and high infant mortality. Recent technology has kept us living longer and consistently reproducing, which causes the population to rise quickly.
Thomas Malthus wrote and published, An Essay on the Principle of Population, between 1798 and 1826 over six editions. This is one of the first published works about the earth’s human population and it’s possible negative impacts on nature and society. A very prophetic passage from his essays reads, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”. He is predicting what we now know, that the earth cannot maintain a fast enough rate of material production to sustain our rapid and continual population growth.
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