Suddenly the concept of “sustainability” is very much in vogue in the run-up to yet another United Nations climate conference scheduled for June. But the idea that life on earth can only be sustained by limiting population growth is not new, it has actually been around for some time. “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man,” wrote Thomas Malthus in his famous 1798 treatise An Essay on the Principle of Population. Malthus argued that population growth was harmful to the earth and a threat to human populations. His view continues to resonate today among the academics and political figures who are well-positioned to influence national and international public policies. “Sustainability” began to gain serious traction in America during the Clinton Administration.
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