Three Ways Overpopulation is a Myth

TL;DR: Because Jack Ma and Elon Musk said so.

Jared Wolf


In sustainability circles, you hear a lot of concern over future baby-making and population growth. Here are three ways overpopulation is a myth.

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The scoop: Overpopulation is a myth because Jack Ma and Elon Musk said so.

Some talking points for your New Years rant:

  1. Overcrowded cities ≠ overcrowded planet. The entire world population can fit in the state of Texas with the same population density as Manhattan.
  2. Lopsided populations will inevitably occur in modern advanced nations. That means young workers will be unable to support aging populations, causing population declines.
  3. ‘Malthusian traps’ refer to eventual food shortages as a population grows. Either Malthus was right and some of us go hungry naturally (as in we don’t need to artificially halt population growth), or he’s wrong and the population keeps growing sustainably through innovation.

Bottom line: The Earth has plenty to offer for 9 billion mouths. We just need to spread out more.

Dig deeper → 2 min

Overcrowded cities ≠ overcrowded planet

The world has overcrowded cities, not overcrowded countries. In the US for example, the West Coast and East Coast alone make up around a 1/3 of the total population.

New York City and LA County each have the same population size as 630,000+ square miles of land near Idaho and the Dakotas.

Meanwhile, if the entire world population lived in Texas, we would still be less crowded than New York City. Texas has over 6 billion plus square miles of land for a planet of 8 billion plus people.

Lopsided populations

Last year at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Ma talked about population collapse, futurism and AI.