In a recent edition the UK’s New Scientist magazine posed a fundamental but politically and socially explosive question. Should we impose population controls on the human race? The article quotes the Malthusian warning of 1798 that growing population would inevitably see mankind eat its way through the planet’s finite resources condemning millions to famine.

Thomas Malthus’s prediction has indeed come to pass with increasing frequency, at least on a regional level, but by and large the population, now standing at 7 billion, has yet to exhaust the planet’s bounty. Of course that may not be the case by the end of the millennium when, all things being equal, we may have three or four billion more planetary compatriots.

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