by Stephen Belmont, Casey Research:
The need for food is unrelenting and universal. It has been the force behind mass migrations and wars. English cleric and scholar Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) was fascinated by the relationship between population and food. He believed food production increased arithmetically while human populations grew geometrically, and predicted humans would have to 1) limit their population growth voluntarily, or 2) have it limited for them naturally by scarcity, famine, and disease.
What Malthus didn’t see coming was the discovery of crude oil (and other hydrocarbons, such as natural gas) which enabled humans in developed nations to dramatically increase food production to levels inconceivable in his time. The chart below shows the impact of this discovery. Crude began flowing from the first commercial well in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in August 1859. In 1850, world population was 1.2 billion. Today it is 7 billion. Poor Malthus got blindsided by the future.
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