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Brazil Is the New America: How Brazil Offers Upward Mobility in a Collapsing World by James Dale Davidson

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Chapter 5

Malthus Again

Population Pressures, Global Cooling, and the Coming Dark Age

[A] look at the interaction of climate and history over the past 15,000 years reveals another process at work more or less continuously over that span. In our efforts to cushion ourselves against smaller, more frequent climate stresses, we have consistently made ourselves more vulnerable to rarer but larger catastrophes. The whole course of civilization (while it is many other things, too, of course) may be seen as a process of trading up on the scale of vulnerability.

—Brian Fagan, The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization, xv

[F]or 55 out of the last 57 centuries Malthus was right. What I mean is that for almost all of the history of civilization improvements in technology did not lead to sustained increases in living standards; instead, the gains were dissipated by rising population, with pressure on resources eventually driving the condition of the masses back to roughly its previous level. . . . It was Malthus’s great misfortune that the power of his theory to explain what happened in most of human history has been obscured by the fact that the only two centuries of that history for which it does not work happen to be the two centuries that followed its publication.

—Paul Krugman, “Seeking the Rule of the Waves”

Classical economists had little or nothing to say about bad weather. In this respect, economics has regressed since the days of the pioneering economist and student of Socrates, ...

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