Malthus 2009

In: Uncategorized

1 Sep 2009

George Alagiah’s three-part BBC2 series on the Future of Food – still available to watch on BBC iPlayer – was classic Malthusianism. From start it assumed that a combination of rising population and increased prosperity is sending the Earth towards environmental catastrophe. For him a combination of water shortages, impending energy shortages and climate change was creating, to use his hackneyed phrase, “a perfect storm”.

Points worth noting about the film included:

– The extensive quoting of environmental activists and sympathisers as if they were objective experts on the topic. I have no objection to such people being quoted but it should be made clear that they only express one side of the argument.

– The crass equivalence made between problems of food shortage and hunger in the developing world with the problem of obesity in the west.

– The little Englander thrust of the programme with great self sufficiency in food seen as a virtually uncontested good (with the honourable exception of one New Zealand agricultural expert).

Most of all though the idea of limits was asserted at the start of the first programme and not contested in the remainder of the series.
Challenging the poisonous anti-human outlook of Malthusianism is becoming an ever more urgent task.

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