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Research Topics

Surprisingly little research has been undertaken about key issues which directly affect human society and the environment. For example, a review in May 1997, in The New York Times Book Review, began by recalling that in the 1930s, Einstein wrote to Freud asking why humans engage in war. Freud replied essentially that he didn't know the answer to such a difficult question.

Thanks to Malthus, we have known the answer for centuries. The simple but profound answer to the question of why humans engage in war despite its problematic nature is that scarcity makes war seem to many to be worth the risk. War is fundamentally (and directly or indirectly) a struggle to control resources.

List of Research Topics

One of the aims of the ISM is to promote the study and research of a host of topics which relate to Malthusian themes. The topics below are meant to stimulate more such topics as well as study.

  1. The question of scarcity as the fundamental cause of all conflict.
  2. What proportion of the current slowdown in world population growth is due to what Malthus called misery (war, disease, poverty) and what proportion is due to what he called preventive checks: lowering human fertility rates through the availability of family planning services including prophylactic measures and abortions, etc.
  3. How does war operate to keep resource use down? We need a book to be written examining several important conflicts to see them as examples of direct or indirect conflicts over the control of resources. Examples of clear wars over resources: WWI; The Tartar invasions; Biblical era conflicts over Palestine
  4. The danger of peace -- overpopulation. The pattern of peace leading to war and war leading to peace.
  5. The contribution rainforests make in stabilizing weather patterns and as sinks for carbon dioxide.
  6. The role of the Pope in impeding family planning and abortion services and the effect on world population growth and environment destruction. How does scarcity play into the politics of these questions?
  7. The economic consequences of the Black Death in revitalizing the economy of Europe in the 14th century and after. Opportunities caused by population crashes.
  8. The role of the New World as a safety valve for European overpopulation
  9. If the fundamental reasons for the great wars in the 20th century was human overpopulation, then how do you explain WWI coming at a time when the world's population was less than 2 billion -- and now, in a time of relative peace, we approach 6 billion?
  10. Do the poor also pollute -- and consume?
  11. Can overpopulation be related to and or blamed for poverty and starvation or is the problem of poverty and starvation merely a distribution problem?
  12. Is space travel practical? Will it ever happen or will the constraints of wealth forever limit humans to our own planet?
  13. How can we explain the continued rapid extermination of the world's forests and rainforests even as we more and more understand their importance?
  14. What is the connection between overpopulation and political repression?
  15. How do population pressures in the less developed world affect the more developed world?
  16. Does per capita wealth grow or diminish with the rise in population?
  17. The effect of prison population on employment/unemployment statistics.
  18. What are the policy implications of the U.S. and China as emitters of CO2?
  19. Why is there a recrudescence of racism in the United States? Why are we seeing more attacks on minorities and a resurgence of anti-Semitism?

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