- it is difficult to celebrate human life in any meaningful way when people – or at least the growth of the number of people – are regarded as the source of the world's problems. Alongside today's respect for human life there is the increasingly popular idea that there is too much human life around, and that it is killing the planet.
- The vocabulary of our times – 'human impact on the environment'; 'ecological footprint'; 'human consumption' – invokes a sense of dread over the active exercise of human life. Apparently, there are too many of us doing too much living and breathing. In a world where humanity is portrayed as a threat to the environment and to the very survival of the planet, human activity – from birth to consumption to procreation – is regarded as a mixed blessing.
- For contemporary Malthusians, every new child is another pollutant.
- the fact that Malthus' predictions did not come true has not discouraged anti-humanists from pursuing the population-control project. They simply invent new reasons for why we must control population growth.
- ...the success of Malthusianism has never been down to the rigour or eloquence of its ideas. Rather, the success of Malthusian ideas depends on the strength of cultural pessimism at any given time. And today it is the loss of faith in the human potential, a fatalistic view of the future, which has rejuvenated the population-control crusade.
The problem: demographers have been telling us for the past 30 years that the planet is neither over-populated, nor facing a population crisis. Check the UN population projection over the past two decades: it keeps coming down. Meanwhile, we are experiencing the greatest explosion in innovation the world has ever seen. Everything we consume is getting cheaper and cheaper because long before any theoretical limits are ever reached a newer, better and cheaper substitute is used.
None of this is news. But it does require constant re-iteration: science does not sustain any pessimism about the human condition.
Pessimism is purely a mis-use of somebody's political imagination and a foil for their political agenda.