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Population falling

by mel starrs on July 30, 2007

in Uncategorized

Fascinating article in the Economist on demographics and population this week.  Happily, according to the article, we aren’t heading for a Malthusian catastrophe (collective sigh of relief).  The article goes on to explain:

Mankind appropriates about a quarter of what is known as the net primary production of the Earth (this is the plant tissue created by photosynthesis)—a lot, but hardly near the point of exhaustion. The price of raw materials reflects their scarcity and, despite recent rises, commodity prices have fallen sharply in real terms during the past century. By that measure, raw materials have become more abundant, not scarcer. Certainly, the impact that people have on the climate is a problem; but the solution lies in consuming less fossil fuel, not in manipulating population levels.

Being the Economist, the central premise of the argument is that “the price of raw materials reflects their scarcity”.  Not being an economist myself, I’m in no position to counter-argue, but I’m sure there’s an argument to be made on the grounds of elasticity . If anyone can clarify my muddled thinking on this, please feel free to jump in and correct me.

The article goes on to reflect on population and the effect of working practices on it.  Very interesting.