Feeding the World: Why Malthus is Still Wrong

Status: This talk is in preparation - details may change

Suggestions that we may be nearing ‘the widely-feared fundamental limit to global food production’ can be taken as confirmation of Malthus’ view that people would eventually outbreed the carrying capacity of the planet. Traditional anti-Malthusian arguments that human technological ingenuity would always keep world populations one step ahead of starvation are rendered unconvincing by our understanding of environmental harm, but this does not mean that Malthus was right all along. An analysis of how past famines and societal collapses were socially constructed indicates that it is to the workings of capitalism, rather than the number of people on the planet, to which we should look for the causes of world hunger.

Dr Elaine Graham-Leigh is an environmental campaigner focusing on climate change and social justice, and author of the book A Diet of Austerity: Class, Food, and Climate Change. She has written and spoken widely on climate change and other political issues, and has articles published by The New Internationalist and The Handbook of the Climate Movement. She is a former steering committee member for the Campaign Against Climate Change, and divides her time between writing and activism.