Paul Ehrlich and the Neo-Malthusian Movement

“The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” —Thomas Malthus (1798)

In a recent interview on 60-Minutes, climate alarmist and American biologist Paul Ehrlich pegged human existence for Earth’s deterioration, and as a threat to human lifestyle and human existence itself. Ehrlich states, “Too many people, too much consumption, and growth mania… Humanity is not sustainable. To maintain our lifestyle… you’d need 5 more Earths… the resources, the systems that support our lives which are the biodiversity that we are wiping out. Humanity is sitting on a branch that we are sawing off.”

How does Ehrlich come to the conclusion that the planet is ending because of human responsibility and poor stewardship?

Ehrlich and his colleagues claim that there have been five mass extinctions in Earth history, such as the dinosaurs and various species, and we are now going through a sixth and this time because of humans. The evidence they use to support this claim is from fossil records, monitoring species population control, considering human consumption, and measuring forestry and wildlife as studied by Ehrlich’s colleagues.

Of course, mere historicity is not the reason Ehrlich is wrong, it is his understanding of human nature that also makes him incorrect.

From the early 1800s to around 2020, the population grew from approximately 1 billion people to approximately 8 billion people. Famine, war, plagues, disease, and more have admittedly caused suffering throughout human existence. Yet, humans, as a species, have continued to overcome given the 700% significant increase in population. Abject poverty has decreased globally since the 1800s to present with a 5,534% improvement. In 1820, 87% of the world suffered from abject poverty, while by 2015 only 11% of the global population suffered from abject poverty.

Furthermore, the things that killed most humans in the mid-1850s, such as tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, malaria, typhoid, etc., have each been overcome by employing human capital and creative ingenuity.

Even with all of this blatant display of human progress in the face of difficulty, doomsayers continue to plague the minds of the masses garnering unmerited media and political attention. The neo-malthusian Paul Ehrlich has provided his theory that Earth is no longer sustainable given the population and its anticipated growth, consumption of products, and the planet’s capacity for provision.

Ehrlich also incorporates trickery when wording their attacks by claiming “around 4 billion people live on less than $10 per day.” They chose that number to try and mislead their audience since actual abject poverty is a little less than $2 per day and only 7.1% of the world live in such conditions as of 2019, as opposed to nearly half of the global population that their numbers suggest.

Ehrlich’s seemingly odd tie between climate and wage is no different than that of philosopher Thomas Malthus. For Malthus, the reason he tied wage income to global instability was to support more centralized power, and control over populations, while claiming the justification was based on minimum subsistence. The economist John Maynard Keyenes explicitly supported Malthus’ ideas for this, and this was a reason Marx and Engels actually criticized Malthus for, i.e. overcentralization of power for an elite few. Malthus’ ideas also inspired Darwin’s ideas of biodiversity and population control, as well as the general field of eugenics. Ehrlich’s ideas are right on par with that of Malthus.

What is the solution that Ehrlich and his colleagues propose?

In the 60-Minute interview, Ehrlich’s colleague, Mexican ecologist Gerardo Ceballos says Earth must preserve at least one third of all wild environments, and that we need to “scale up 10,000 times.” He goes on to say, “What we will have to do is understand that climate change and species extinction is a threat to humanity. And then, put all of the machinery of society (political, economic, and social) towards finding solutions to the problems.”

Ehrlich-and-team’s centralized, socialist-leaning, approach to climate and population control has publicly been their main goal for decades, and this is echoed throughout each aspect of their doomsday claims and network of support. Ehrlich’s concerted efforts reach deep into United Nations relations through the UN Biodiversity Conference led by Nader Raider and Greenpeace activist Steven Guilbeault, China’s Huang Runqiu who is proudly subservient to the goals of the Chinese Communist Party, and Elizabeth Maruma Mrema who claims the entire global environment to be a “global asset” that needs to be controlled.

Humanprogress supporter and author Alex Epstein correctly replied to Ehrlich’s audacious statements. Epstein specified, “Catastrophic resource depletion, catastrophic pollution… catastrophic global cooling… catastrophic global warming… all four have come false! [In fact] the rate of deaths from climate related disasters… that’s gone down by 98% in the last 100 years. We are actually 50 times safer from climate related disasters.”

Epstein quipped, “How can you be 180 degrees wrong for 50 years and you’re an authority?! That shows there’s something corrupt and unscientific about this movement. It’s not self-correcting, it’s the opposite. It gets it totally wrong and it claims validation and is totally unapologetic.”

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Joshua D. Glawson

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer, speaker, and guest lecturer on political philosophy and economics. He resides in California.

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