Chapter 7. The New Agricultural Revolution

In 1798, Thomas Malthus published his Essay on Population. Malthus argued that the world’s population was growing far faster than farmers’ capacity to produce food. He reasoned that over time, human demand for food would outstrip supply, producing widespread famine, wars to secure dwindling food supplies, and diseases resulting from overcrowding and malnutrition.

Malthus was an Englishman and his dire predictions were based at least partly on Britain’s own history. Up until Essay on Population was published, Britain’s population had never exceeded 5.5 million. The population approached that threshold on at least three occasions between 100 and 1750, but each time crop failures resulted in food shortages ...

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