This is my final post for the week, and I just wanted to say that it’s been great participating in the Volokh Conspiracy! I didn’t get to all the topics which are covered in my book, so I hope my posts have made you curious about 100 Plus. One topic that may be of interest is how religion evolves in a longer-lived world. The answer will surprise you. So, now, on to the topic of the environment…
Increased health and life spans may be a dream come true, but many worry that it could turn nightmarish owing to problems like overcrowding, resource depletion, and greater pollution. Living a long time might be wonderful on an individual basis, but if many people can do it, would the world still be a place in which we would want to reside?
This is a legitimate worry because both the U.S. and world populations continue to grow. For instance, in 1800 America’s population totaled just over 5 million—that’s fewer people than currently live in New York City. By 2011 that number had grown to over 311 million.
Likewise, the world population in 1800 was estimated at around 900 million and by early 2011 the U.S. Census World POPClock estimated that number at 6.8 billion. Of course, during that time the economy changed and living conditions improved significantly, driving up life expectancy by decades. Nevertheless, 6.8 billion is a big number. Can the planet and our societal structures handle any more people?
In his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), Thomas Malthus advanced the thesis that population grows faster than our ability to provide for ourselves and thus will always be checked by famine, disease, and war. Malthus was wrong.
Consider the idea that more people automatically means less food for everyone. [...]