Coronavirus pandemic: Is this nature's way to deal with population explosion? This economist definitely thought so
The coronavirus pandemic has left mass devastation in its wake. The world has come to a staggering halt, streets are deserted with everyone taking to their homes for self-isolation, and thousands have been killed at the hands of this deadly virus. But what has popped out during this time is a conspiracy theory — one that involves the ever-expanding world population and means of controlling it.
The world's population prior to the coronavirus epidemic was 7.7 billion as reported in an April 2019 census. It took over 200,000 years of human history for the global population to comprise 1 billion, and only 200 more years to reach 7 billion. As far as this conspiracy goes, theorists believe that the coronavirus pandemic could just be associated with the over-population problem.
The basis for this conspiracy comes from the theory of population propounded by 18th-century economic theorist and philosopher, Thomas Robert Malthus. He examined the relationship between the growth of the populace and the available resources. With exponential growth in the population, he said, the food and other resources available to cater to the increase would be limited. While population grows geometrically, resources increase arithmetically.
Ultimately, he concluded, when the population growth surpasses the ecological capacity to sustain it, certain checks have to come into place to regulate it. In his theory, however, Malthus advocated sexual abstinence as a 'preventive' measure towards population growth.
However, he suggested another form of control — nature intervening when things get out of hand. He proposed that natural calamities, plagues, wars could ensue in situations where man's strategies fail, labeling them as 'positive' measures.
While most conspiracy theories are founded upon misconceptions, there is a segment of people who point at the coronavirus pandemic being an actual Malthusian positive check towards balancing out the excessive population. The last time the Malthusian theory justified a calamity, it was the 14th century Bubonic Plague that wiped out millions across Europe and Asia.
The economy took the worst blow. And as far as economy is concerned, coronavirus outbreak has inevitably retarded the world economy by quite a lot.
In the 1960s, a faction of influential people established the Club of Rome, which affirmed the Malthusian view. It was founded with the aim to work towards reducing the size of the population, and more importantly, to contribute to the 'degrowth' of the world economy, all governed by the rule that finite resources cannot sustain an environment that houses a large population.
The 'degrowth' of the economy, as the Club of Rome suggested, looks to reduce the dependence on economic production in contrast to the theory.
It is ecologically pleasing — the lesser the production, the better it is for the environment — and implies slower population growth. And as the global economy is a series of interlinked economies, an impact on one country's economy has a drastic effect on the other.
Malthus and the Club of Rome foresaw many catastrophes as a result of the population explosion. Essentially Malthusians and conspiracy theorists believe that the coronavirus pandemic could be what the world needs to contribute to the degrowth of the economy. In the long run, it is hard to say if it will be beneficial to man or not.