“Overpopulation is not the problem”

Posted on September 15th, 2013 by

boserupThis recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by geographer and environmental scientist Erle Ellis sums up perfectly last week’s lesson in GEG/ENV-250 Nature & Society. Here’s an excerpt:

“Unable to explain how [human] populations grew for millenniums while increasing the productivity of the same land, I discovered the agricultural economist Ester Boserup, the antidote to the demographer and economist Thomas Malthus and his theory that population growth tends to outrun the food supply. Her theories of population growth as a driver of land productivity explained the data I was gathering in ways that Malthus could never do. While remaining an ecologist, I became a fellow traveler with those who directly study long-term human-environment relationships — archaeologists, geographers, environmental historians and agricultural economists. The science of human sustenance is inherently a social science.”

 

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