The Corner

Nina Fedoroff

Jonah, I don’t see anything particularly sinister (I think that’s what you might have been suggesting by the heading to your post) in what Dr. Fedoroff had to say. As it happens, I think she’s wrong to think that we have reached the “limits of sustainability” (of course, that rather depends on how you define sustainability), but I don’t believe that it ought to be too controversial to assert either (a) that old Gaia is getting a touch crowded; or (b) that the dramatic increase in the world’s population over the past century has put a strain on some of the planet’s resources.

Fortunately, modernity brings smaller families in its wake. The best guess is that the global population will eventually stop growing and may, in time, start to shrink in what will be a fairly gradual, perfectly natural process. That’ll be great news for those (fewer) people who will be around to see it. To argue (as some do) that graying societies will not be able to provide for themselves (without recourse to mass immigration) is to reveal a distrust of human ingenuity no less profound than that displayed by the Limits to Growth crowd all those years ago. And no less misguided.

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