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Thomas Malthus

AP Environmental Science Project

Elizabeth Fernandez

on 26 February 2014

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Transcript of Thomas Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus
Contribution to the World
More on Malthus
Philosophy Regarding the Environment
His Philosophy
Malthus as an Economist
So What?
How does this Directly Relate to the Environment?
The Malthusian Theory
What if it's Wrong?
Place of Birth and Lifespan
Education in his early
years of life
Born on: February 13, 1766
Place of Birth: Surrey, England
Died on: December 23, 1834
Place of Death: Hertford, England
The young Malthus was educated mostly at home until his admission to Jesus College, Cambridge, he was educated by private tutors and his father, Daniel Malthus. A country gentleman of a good family and independent fortune cultivated in both the ways of literature and science. He was a friend of the philosopher and skeptic David Hume as well as Jean-Jacques Rousseau whom he was influenced by, thus educated his son in their schools of thought.
So far, Malthus’ theory had not proven to be true. The main reason to this would be that Malthus could not have foreseen the demographic transition. There are other reasons as well, he did not account for improvements in technology of food production, developments in resource extraction technology, access to larger amounts of energy and resources in more parts of the world and so on.
Environmentalist have used and stretched Malthus’ theory during the 20th century to make the point that Earth cannot sustain overly populated areas of the world, even less so if it is the whole world, and that resources will run out unless population growth is brought under control.
His theory on human population is that its size is determined by two factors; mankind's undeniable instinct to reproduce and its need for food. Malthus argued that population increases geometrically as food production increases arithmetically, because of this argument he claimed that unchecked human populations will always exceed their ability to produce food, leading to massive starvation and inability to self-sustain.
Malthus also provided possible solutions to this problem; ways that would bring human population back to balance with food production could be through natural disasters, famine, disease, war, and other outside forces that would influence the two, that is, unless mankind demonstrated self-restraint in reproduction (in other words, he wanted everyone to marry late and show strict sexual abstinence before marriage, not have that many children, etc.)
Malthus' theory about human population already reveals much about his views of the world, but here are a few more quotes on what he thought about the environment:
Malthus did not only contribute to demography but also studied mythology and was an economist. He is often known today as the "patron saint of demography," as well as being one of the first if not the first to cause population and demographics to become topics of consideration and serious academic study. The following are some of his famous or personal quotes:
Malthus was one of the greatest economists of the nineteenth century who greatly influenced that century’s legislation of the state’s approach to poverty and unemployment, “The Poor Law.” He was the first economics professor at any English institution of higher education. He was arguably the most misunderstood and misrepresented economist of all times; his analysis of population growth was deeply influenced by Darwin's theory of natural selection and thus often misinterpreted. His theories however, became popular once more once Keynesian economics arose.
Malthus attended Jesus College, Cambridge in 1784 where he studied a variety of subjects and obtained awards in Latin and Greek. Surprisingly, he had been mischievous as a teenager but became a very serious student once entering Cambridge. He graduated in 1788 and earned his master of arts degree in 1791, in 1797 he became a fellow at Jesus College.
Education in College
By Elizabeth Fernandez
Personal Achievements
In 1804 Malthus married Harriet Eckersall
In 1805 he became a professor of history and political economy at the East India Company’s college at Haileybury, Hertfordshire
In 1819 Malthus was elected a fellow of the Royal Society
In 1821 he joined the Political Economy Club, whose members included David Ricardo and James Mill
In 1824, he was elected as one of the 10 royal associates of the Royal Society of Literature
In 1833 he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques and to the Royal Academy of Berlin
Malthus was also one of the co-founders of the Statistical Society of London in 1834
"I do not know that any writer has supposed that on this earth man will ultimately be able to live without food."
"No limits whatever are placed to the productions of the earth; they may increase forever."
"The rich, by unfair combinations, contribute frequently to prolong a season of distress among the poor."
"The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. "
"A writer may tell me that he thinks man will ultimately become an ostrich. I cannot properly contradict him."
The histories of mankind are histories only of the higher classes.
It is an acknowledged truth in philosophy that a just theory will always be confirmed by experiment.
I think it will be found that experience, the true source and foundation of all knowledge, invariably confirms its truth.
"Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society," first published anonymously in 1798
"An Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent" published in 1815
"Principles of Political Economy" published in 1820
Famous Works Published
Class Questions
1. What is Malthus' full name?
2. What was the title of Malthus' best known work? The year it was published?
3. Briefly explain his theory on human population.
His most well known work without a doubt however, would be "An Essay on the Principle of Population" that was published in 1798. In this essay he worked to explain poverty, dearth, and famine.
Full transcript