It brings a smirk to the lips that Thomas Malthus was one of eight children and had a further three. Unremarkable numbers in Georgian England, true, but if you are going to argue that population growth beggars the species, people will hold you to it. The sense that reproductive restraint was for thee, not he, nor his class, is one reason for the economist’s ongoing infamy. That, and his empirical wrongness.

Until, perhaps, now. Climate change is graciously according Malthus a second life. It is hard to do anything kinder for the environment than have fewer children. Even if an infant grows to become a Prius-driving vegan who forswears air travel and line-dries the laundry, he or she will still contribute to the problem. A human cannot inhabit real time and space in a post-agrarian economy without generating carbon.

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