When modern Malthusians insist that resources are finite, they only expose their historical illiteracy, misanthropy and social pessimism.
The main Malthusian idea I think we should challenge is the idea that resources are finite. The idea that the Earth itself is finite. The idea that we live on a finite planet and therefore we can only have a certain number of people, living in a certain number of homes, eating a certain amount of food.
Because it seems to me that the population-control lobby’s obsession with finiteness really exposes what it is all about. It reveals the historical illiteracy and the social pessimism that underpin the pseudo-scientific movement of Malthusianism. The Malthusians’ focus on finiteness explains firstly why they are always wrong about everything; secondly why they are so misanthropic.
On the first point, Malthusians are simply wrong to say that resources are fixed, that we can measure and predict when they will run out. It seems commonsensical to say that the Earth is finite, and a bit mad to say that it isn’t, but it’s important to recognise how fluid and changeable resources are. It’s important to recognise that the usefulness and longevity of a resource is determined as much by us – by the level of social development we have reached – as it is by the existence of that resource in the first place.
A short essay written by a Brit. But if he were a Yank, he'd be a Republican. And this is the sort of refreshing perspective that Tea Party Republicans will bring to American economic policy.
You won't hear them crow about Richard Heinberg and his idea that economic growth is ending, or that we must "Power Down" to save ourselves from a looming die-off due to the dire consequences of peak oil. You won't hear them nag on and on about population overshoot and the Club of Rome. No, I'm afraid you have to run to the other side of the political spectrum for any of that.