The problem of global overpopulation is one of the main threads of Dan Brown’s Inferno.
In the book, a particularly important role in the definition of the problem is played by the theory elaborated in this regard by Reverend Malthus in the eighteenth century.
Thomas Robert Malthus was an English economist and demographer.
He was born in 1766 into a wealthy family: his father was a personal friend of the philosopher David Hume and was in contact with Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The young Malthus was educated at Jesus College in Cambridge. After graduation, he chose a religious career and in 1797 was ordained an Anglican pastor. He died in the famous spa town of Bath in 1834.
In 1798, he published his most famous treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which was first published anonymously by Joseph Johnson.
In 1830, thirty-two years after the first edition, Malthus published a condensed version entitled A Summary View on the Principle of Population, which included remarks in response to criticism of the main book.
In his essay, Malthus wrote,
Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.
The only remedy for society could be to control the birthrate and agriculture with very strict and repressive policies.
Both the so-called “Malthusian catastrophe theory” and the remedies that the pastor proposed have naturally been criticized, which includes both early and late responses.
We just want to mention what the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said. He professed that Malthus, stating that mouths multiply geometrically and food only arithmetically, forgot that the human mind is also a factor in political economy, and the growing needs of society would be met by the growing power of invention.