The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

More People are Good for the World

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Debate Round Forfeited
Hadii has forfeited round #3.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2018 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 407 times Debate No: 112796
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
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All things considered, the explosion of human population in the last 200 years has been good for the world. Future expected population increases are likely to be good for the world.

First round is for acceptance only. We'll get down to the debate in round 2.


I accept. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, I'm glad Pikachu accepted my debate. I checked some of his other debates, and he didn't troll his opponent by speaking in Pika, so that's good.

So, from Pikachu to people...

It has been about 200 years since Malthus predicted that more people would lead to death and starvation. In his view, God made sure humans stayed motivated by keeping our resource growth lower than population growth. And when there are more people than resources to sustain them, people have to die

"Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ration. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetic ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison with the second."

Malthus wrote when there was about an eighth of the population we have today, and gdp wasn't even a thing. His view didn't seem unreasonable at the time. But then the evidence came in, and after that I think it would be completely unreasonable to be a Malthusian today.

GDP per capita exploded to unimaginable heights. Between 1820 and 1900 the world's income tripled. It tripled again in a bit more than fifty years. And then it took 25 years to triple again, and then 33 years to triple yet another time. The number of people living in extreme poverty went from 95% to 10%. World hunger plummeted as measured by calories per person per day. We traded in hunger for obesity, and that's a trade I'm happy to make. Life expectancy is higher than ever. We here about national inequalities rising, but we never hear about how world inequality is falling.

A really insightful way of thinking about this all: how much money would I have to pay you to go back in time and live in the world 200 years ago?

This is really not super controversial. For resources I suggest browsing, Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now, or If those sources sound suspect, please know that they draw from data from the World Bank (1).

All this happened at the only time in history when human population exploded. Population and progress are correlated. That doesn't mean that human population is responsible for all this progress. But consider: if hypothesis is tested by prediction, and the extreme opposite of everything Malthus's hypothesis predicted came to pass, then shouldn't we take a second glance at the logic behind his hypothesis?

So lets think about what Malthus missed:

More humans are more mouths to feed, no doubt. But they're also more brains - supercomputers that find ways to feed mouths.

The food supply simply hasn't only grown in "arithmetic ratio", or we wouldn't be here. Brains figured out how to grow much more food much faster. We built tractors and seeders. We developed GMOs and vertical farming. We took oil, which was sludge in the ground; valuable to no one, and turned it into a resource.

Malthus was wrong about the other side of the coin too. You might think that population works when you push 2 x 2 x 2 on a calculator. After a few pushes, you're at phenomenally large number. It doesn't actually work that way. The rate of population growth peaked about 60 years ago at 2.1%/year. Since then it has been declining, and according to the United Nations it's expected to stabilize by around year 2100 (2)

How is this possible? Think: the rate of population growth equals the birth rate minus the death rate. The birth rate has been slowing because of contraception and alternative entertainment to sex. And the death rate has been going down, but not at the same pace as it did when we saw radical population growth. It's much easier to increase life expectancy from 50 to 80, than 80 to 110.

So the question isn't whether population growth can last forever. The question is can it go until we stabilize at around 11 billion? All signs say we can.

What about other resources? Remember that what is or isn't a resource depends on human ingenuity. We didn't just get lucky that so much of our machinery uses oil. We developed it BECAUSE there was so much oil to use. And while it is completely unclear if peak oil will happen in 10 years or 100 years or 1,000 years (because technology squeezes way more productivity out of every ounce of oil than it used to), by then we'll have transitioned to an alternative form of energy. This applies to all peak-anything worries. We find more, make more, use less, and develop alternatives.

When someone tells me the world would be better off with 1 billion people rather than 8 billion people, I ask, do you really want 1/8 of the scientists? Do you want 1/8 of the Einsteins? 1/8 of the doctors? Even 1/8 of the food line cooks. I mean, the fact that food line cooks employed tells us that even they produce more than they consume.

People are awesome, and almost all of them would rather exist than not exist. They're also good for each other. Even at 8 billion people, what it takes to sustain 1 more is well worth the productivity of another brain. Because one more mouth to feed is a small problem, one more brain is a gigantic solution.



I'm sorry, but I was a bit too busy the last few days, and forgot about this debate. I'm just gonna post this, so I will be able to continue in round 3.

Anyways, see you on the next round, and extremely sorry for having to forfeit.
Debate Round No. 2


Not a problem, we're all busy ;)
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Hadii 3 years ago
Sorry. :(
Posted by Hadii 3 years ago
I'm not gonna have enough time to write my argument since I was very busy the last few days. If you still want to debate we can restart it in the weekend.
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