Sadly, for many people political committment comes with an emotional attachment to bad, yet false news. Moreover, it apppears that some of them are more invested in their accustomed outrage than in the discovery of altered facts, let alone signs of relief and improvement. I have enlarged on observations to this effect in my recent post 80% of World's Worst Poverty Eradicted in Less Than Forty Years, and in last years Christmas post Goodbye to Anger - A Christmas Message to Libertarians.
The Coyote has a readable piece on the catastrophic global population explosion that fortunately is not happening, while false Mathusian claims keep being somehow important to believe in for many people.
I wish, we developed a habit of putting gifts under the Christmas tree that contain wonderful news we used not to be aware of.
Reminding us of the happy facts, while at the same time discussing Dan Brown's bestseller "Inferno," the Coyote notes:
There is absolutely no trend towards out of control population growth. In fact, the trends actually run in the opposite direction, with birth rates and population growth rates falling such that most demographers foresee an Earth stabilizing around 9-10 billion people and possibly falling in population after that. [...]
First, population growth rates have been falling for decades and will continue to fall. They are falling in every part of the world. [...]
People focus on the amount the world population has increased over the last 60 years to produce shock numbers, but the real stunner is the drop in fertility rates -- nearly in half, which is really astounding. I still have my treasured first edition of Ehrlich's Population Bomb. It is hilarious reading, all the more so because he gets everything so wrong, yet the media still tends to take him seriously.
The recurring theme in Inferno is that man's greatest problem is that he has successfully tackled many diseases and thus increased life expectancy, and it is this longer life expectancy that will be the roots of mankind's Malthusian downfall.
However, exactly the opposite is true. There is a ton of scientific work that says that longer life spans lead to lower fertility rates (the other thing that most contributes to lower fertility rates is economic growth). [With robust evidence available of] a clear inverse correlation between life expectancy and birth rates. Correlation is not causation, but this is backed by a ton of other empirical evidence to support causation.
There is no trend towards accelerating population growth -- the trend is in the opposite direction, to deceleration. And folks who have underestimated man's ingenuity in feeding larger populations have always turned our to be wrong. Ehrlich said there was no way --- absolutely no way -- India could feed an additional 200 million people by 1980. Well, in 2013 it feeds an additional 800 million people to a better standard that the country was fed in Ehrlich's time. Hell, we could probably feed an additional half billion more just by repealing laws that put a significant amount of America's food production into automotive fuels.
See also An Overpopulation of Malthusians, as well as valid points from posts going back to times when I was more one-sided and more committed to the world being sooo bad: The Sport of Facile Killing ..., The Myth Junkie Society.