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Title: There’s No Natural ‘Carrying Capacity’ for the Human Population: An Essay Inspired by the Happy News that the Human Population Has Reached Eight Billion
Source: AEIR
URL Source: https://www.aier.org/article/theres ... ion-has-reached-eight-billion/
Published: Dec 6, 2022
Author: Donald J. Boudreaux
Post Date: 2022-12-06 20:51:50 by Charles_Byrd
Keywords: None
Views: 25

The late, great Julian Simon spent decades battling intellectually against biologists and zoologists who were convinced that human population growth, if governments did not hold it in check with draconian measures, would spell doom for multitudes of humans. (I might as well have used the present tense above, because many of the scientists with whom Simon did battle, including the most prominent, Paul Ehrlich, are still alive.) These students of animal development and behavior insist that every species inhabits an environment with a natural “carrying capacity.” If the population of a species grows in number beyond the limits of its environment’s carrying capacity, the death rate of members of that species will rise, while its members’ birth rate falls, because species members will confront unusual difficulty gaining access to food, water, and shelter. The species’ population is thus confined to the limits of its environment’s carrying capacity by the brutality of uncaring nature.

Simon argued that humans, at least those of us who live in free societies, are a categorically different sort of species. He observed that to the extent to which we, members of the human species, inhabit a social environment characterized by free and innovative markets, our species does not inhabit a natural environment with a finite carrying capacity. Simon’s argument starts with the fact that we humans are uniquely enterprising and innovative. When this fact combines with the further reality that market prices are signals about which specific resources are becoming more scarce relative to other resources, human entrepreneurship and creativity are incited to discover ways both to make currently known stocks of scarce resources go further and, more importantly, to discover either new sources of those resources or more abundant substitutes. When we succeed in these endeavors, as we now normally do, we literally produce more resources.

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