Thomas Malthus was a mentally-ill individual who had a phobia against human happiness and progress. As a symptom of his disease, and in order to trick his fellow man into self-destruction, in 1798 he wrote Essay on the Principle of Population. In it he predicted that increasing populations would lead to cataclysmic famine by the mid-nineteenth century. His solution to this prophesized problem was to cull the human race through late marriage and sexual abstinence. History has proved Malthus’ prediction to be a malicious falsehood.

One of the last splutterings in support of this pernicious theory was Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, The Population Bomb. Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor, claimed that “the battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.”

Ehrlich proposed a progressive tax on income based on the number of children in a family, ‘luxury taxes’ on cribs and diapers, and government ‘responsibility prizes’ for men who accepted sterilization. He commented: “Obviously, such measures would need coordination by a powerful government agency. A federal department of population and environment should be set up with the power to take whatever steps are necessary to establish a reasonable population in the United States.”

Ehrlich further suggested this benevolent government agency should fund research into “development of mass sterilizing agents.” A bestseller at the time, The Population Bomb serves as a cautionary tale of how Malthusians can continue to gain credibility for their deluded ravings notwithstanding the ongoing debunking of their theory.

The symptoms of Malthusians are always the same. The sufferer claims to be concerned about an impending catastrophe and argues passionately for population control and a halt to technological progress. Sufferers can be easily diagnosed by the formula they use: a warning based on ‘overwhelming scientific evidence’ supported by the claim that ‘consensus’ has been reached among ‘top scientists.’ This is followed by solemn advice about the need to prevent people having children and to stifle progress—by coercion.

Malthusians tend to focus on the same apocalyptic prediction in order to gain credibility by their numbers. The apocalyptic prediction is then milked for all it is worth until the passage of time reveals it to be preposterous. Then, without the slightest shame, they switch to a new apocalyptic prediction. During the 1970s it was ‘peak oil.’ We were all warned that oil would run out before the end of the 1980s, a calamity which would cause mass starvation and a return to an agrarian dark age. The proposed solution, as usual, was to reduce the number of children born and roll back technological progress.

Today Ehrlich no longer warns of impending famine. He has also given up on peak oil. Instead, today he warns of the destruction of the environment by global warming. His latest book, Healing the Planet: Strategies for Resolving the Environmental Crisis, once again proposes retarding human progress and birthrates.

Malthusians claim to love the environment ‘for the sake of our children’, yet their true motivation is to prevent children being born. Their hatred of ‘greedy developers’ is a mask for what really upsets them—the suburbs developers leave behind. They know that every new suburb created will keep churning out generation after generation of families after they are gone and thus continue to increase, exponentially, the sum of all human happiness.

Humanity can and will keep growing in number indefinitely. We have not even begun to cover the surface of the planet, and the surface is not the limit in any event. Anyone who cares to look out the window of an airplane will quickly see how empty most of America still is. Even in Europe there are billions of suburbs waiting to be built, with schools, parks, universities, and shopping malls to complement them. The deserts of the world alone cover a third of all land on the planet. These are waiting to be converted to agriculture using the unlimited water in the oceans which are standing by ready for desalination.

Those who today feign anguish over the prospect of a two-centimeter rise in sea levels should discard their despair at progress and their hatred of mankind, and instead rejoice at the ever-expanding vista of human accomplishment and improved living standards.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove