The roots of environmentalism go back to the eighteenth century in the form of the overpopulation myth of Malthusianism, which was all about limiting the human population to prevent a predicted Malthusian Catastrophe, i.e. mass starvation, and for genetic purity, especially among supposedly genetically inferior groups e.g. certain races, cultures and the chronically poor. This is based on the progressive beliefs in materialism, (i.e. there is no spiritual side, only the material we can see and touch), and humanism, (i e. man is the measure of everything and determines morals to suit his circumstances). From these progressive philosophies grew socialism, communism, fascism, the eugenics movement and environmentalism, all of which are about control of the masses by an elite few, and all are basically anti-human, anti-development and anti-freedom.
In 1798 Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principles of Population in which he predicted future starvation based on the assumption that the rate of population growth would far surpass the growth rate of food supplies. Using this, he proposed draconian measures to “fix” an assumed overpopulation problem at a time when world population was below one billion. Malthus made two major erroneous assumptions:
- Genetic inferiority and enhanced fertility of less accomplished peoples
- No improvement in crop yields per acre.
He assumed that the only way to grow more food was to increase the number of acres under cultivation, which limited the total “carrying capacity” of any region and indeed the world. We now know that yields have improved by orders of magnitude through things such as introduction of more prolific, disease resistant plant varieties and high yield hybrids, nitrogen and mineral fertilization, mechanization and control of insect and rodent pests. Nor did he foresee the natural reduction of family size that usually occurs when people are raised beyond near-starvation subsistence, and when diseases are controlled so that high childhood mortality is reduced.
Using these false assumptions as a “reason,” he advocated government measures to reduce population growth rates among the poor such as regulating marriage, educating for moral abstinence, as well as birth control and sterilization. However, he opposed nutritional relief and improved hospital access that would have reduced infant mortality and extended life spans among the poor. In his opinion, helping the poor only made the supposed overpopulation problem worse. He extended this same philosophy to Africa where he observed that the Tsetse fly and Malaria helped to keep human population numbers and lifespans low, which he saw as a good thing.
This same upside down philosophy persists today among progressives who only typically want to manage the poor while keeping them poor. Malthus was pushing evolution and eugenics long before Charles Darwin and Frances Galton. In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin assumed that the superior races (assumed to be white Europeans) would eventually cause the extinction of the inferior races (assumed to be black and brown peoples). Francis Galton coined the term eugenics for a theory about improving the human race through selective breeding and exclusion from reproduction of supposedly genetically inferior groups.
“At some future period, not very distant as measured in centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world.
—Charles Darwin, Descent of Man
Because genetic inferiority of certain races, cultures and the poor has largely been rejected by more enlightened geneticists and the public in general, (but apparently not for powerful population control supporters), along with vastly improved food production rates, environmentalism is the latest cause celebre to cover brutal inhumanity to man in the form of forced or coerced population control in places like China, lndia and Africa. The shift from eugenics or racial purity to environmentalism is based on the false assumption that the world is overpopulated, resulting in harm to the environment. This makes environmentalism and population control a perfect match and a good fit for the progressive elite seeking control.
Is it true that the world is overpopulated? Only if agriculture had remained as it was in the eighteenth century. However, the advances in crop yields are more than enough to feed the world. There is more than enough food for all. The reason for starvation and poor nutrition is usually political mismanagement or worse, such as well-meaning but misguided environmentalism and population control by philanthropic societies, NGOs, UN and local governments intentionally keeping the poorest in their disease ridden squalor without adequate infrastructure to provide for basic needs in order to control the people. A healthy and educated population is much harder for a dictator to control and thereby remain in power.
The best way to stabilize population, if that is the goal, is to raise the standard of living by providing employment, transportation, electricity, medical care, education, clean water and adequate food. It is a well known fact that family size is naturally reduced when living standards are improved beyond the point where excess children are needed to insure replacement of those lost in early childhood to disease and malnutrition. It can be argued that the population is too low in many areas to provide the cooperation and man power to provide better facilities without outside aid. Only cities are overpopulated, and that is usually by choice. As population numbers have grown, the world has seen an increase in the standard of living, as reflected in the global GDP per capita, due to division of labor and shared responsibility for both agriculture and developing infrastructure. We should be doing all we can to raise the world’s poor out of poverty. Caring for the environment is the last thing on the minds of people who are having difficulty feeding their children. Raising their standard of living is the best thing we could do to stabilize the population and protect the environment. Unfortunately, the progressives would rather do the opposite for ideological reasons.
I have seen the benefits of higher population and the negative side of low population myself. I grew up in an area of the Appalachian Mountains where population is low. Services that are available in the cities and towns a couple of hours away are not or only marginally available in these mountainous rural areas. Even finding a plumber or electrician is difficult. Although the situation is better now because of improvements in highways, many in the area still must travel to the cities for proper medical care. Lower population means lower tax basis, fewer businesses, less opportunity. It has been difficult getting businesses, whether they are medical facilities, manufacturing, commercial or food and entertainment, interested in locating in an area where the customer and workforce base are low. It has been particularly difficult getting doctors to come and stay. It hasn’t been that long since the first fast food restaurant came into the area. I bring this up to illustrate the logic of raising the population to improve living standards. Granted, this is a far cry from poor villages in other countries, but it still illustrates the point that higher population brings higher living standards.
 Eugenics is the “science” of improving the human race by selective breeding of genetically superior people and preventing supposedly genetically inferior people from reproducing.
 Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principles of Population, 1798, London
 Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species , 1858, London, The Descent of Man, 1871