Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Population Growth

  • Thomas Dietz
  • Jessica Bell
  • Christina Leshko
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_443-1


Debates about population, environmental quality, and resource adequacy stretch back to classical writers but are usually identified with Thomas Malthus’s Essay(s) on Population (Dietz and Rosa 1994; Malthus 1803/1992). The basic argument is that human population will grow at a pace faster than increases in the production of food or other resources. This leads to poverty, disease, malnutrition, and other social and environmental ills. Concern with population pressure on natural resources also underpinned Garrett Hardin’s much cited but problematic analysis of the tragedy of the commons (Dietz,et al. 2003; Hardin 1968). Hardin argued that common pool resources, such as fisheries or pastures, cannot be managed by communities because continuous population growth will increase demand for resources and encourage self-interested rather than altruistic behavior. The commons collapses. The argument that population growth will lead to problems has been applied to many resources,...


Food Production Food Waste Virtue Ethic Fertility Control Increase Food Production 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy, and Animal StudiesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA