Video – The Last Word on Overpopulation

by | Feb 15, 2011 | Videos | 31 comments

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Welcome. This is James Corbett of with the last word on overpopulation.

As human beings, we are hard wired to be constantly on the lookout for potential dangers. This is to be expected. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to be ever-vigilant to the threat of natural predators, contagious disease and inclement weather, or suffer the consequences. Today we have largely overcome many of the natural dangers which plagued our forebears, but the same instincts compel us to guard against threats both real and imagined, and heed the call of those who raise the alarm of potential new threats.

This concept has been well understood for thousands of years by those who have sought to control populations.

Before the modern understanding of our solar system had been articulated, the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun itself was a god named Ra who was devoured every evening by an evil snake god named Apep. It was by no means assured that Ra would be able to escape Apep to return in the morning, and the priest class manipulated this basic fear by developing elaborate rites for warding off the snake god. These rites, of course, could only be properly administered by the priests themselves, thus assuring them a central role in ancient Egyptian society.

We may laugh at the gullibility of the ancient Egyptians, but for them the existence of Apep and the importance of the rituals were instilled from an early age and reinforced by the pronouncements of the priestly class. To question the reality of the sun god myth would have been akin to questioning the fabric of Egyptian society itself.

To think that we are not capable of being similarly manipulated in our modern “enlightened” era would be the grossest form of historical naïveté.

In the 20th century, fears over the red menace of the Soviet Union and its supposed military juggernaut were used to steer the course of American society. Jack Kennedy himself became president campaigning on the notion that the Eisenhower administration had allowed a dangerous missile gap to build up between the Soviets and the Americans. According to this scare story, fed to the Kennedy campaign by RAND Corporation analysts, the Soviet Union had 500 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles ready to fire at America at a moment’s notice. In reality, the Soviets only had 4 such missiles at that time, but that did not stop the military-industrial propaganda machine from convincing Americans that they had to pump ever more of their resources into arms purchases from defense contractors in order to counter the Soviet threat.

Incredibly, in some cases the same threat has been touted for centuries, always coming with the same dire warnings that the end of the world is nigh unless the public is willing to give up money, sovereignty, or even their lives in order to avert it.

In the late 18th century an Anglican priest named Thomas Malthus demonstrated with “mathematical certainty” that the world was heading toward demographic disaster. After all, human population increases exponentially while food supply increases arithmetically. From this it logically follows that it is only a matter of time before the world population outstrips our ability to feed ourselves.

Thomas Malthus

Of course, just as a parent might look at his infant son’s first year of growth and extrapolate that he will be 20 feet tall by the time he’s 30, over 200 years of the expected population crisis failing to arrive has demonstrated that there are fundamental flaws in Malthus’ reasoning. The earth is not a zero-sum game and human ingenuity has always and in every generation manged to bake a bigger pie even as they take a bigger and bigger slice of it. Now even the United Nations’ most alarmist predictions admit that global population will level off and begin declining in 2050, and Malthus is now understood to have been a third-rate scholar spreading Chicken Little sky-is-falling fantasies for the benefit of the British East India Company that employed him.

Amazingly, though, despite every one of the doomsday predictions of Malthus and his Malthusian acolytes proving to be false decade after decade for two centuries on end, Malthus’ ideas are still being taken seriously and still being hyped and promoted by the moneyed oligarchs who benefit from the idea that there are too many useless eaters using up the world’s resources.

Malthus himself, an Anglican minister, wrote that: “We are bound in justice and honour formally to disdain the Right of the poor to support,” arguing for a law making it illegal for the Anglican church to give any food, clothing or support to any children. Not content with consigning thousands of children to death for the misfortune of being born poor, however, Malthus also advocated actively contributing to the deaths of more of the poor through social engineering:

“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlement in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they are doing a service to mankind by protecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders.”

The horrific nature of this idea is made all the more preposterous by the fact that Malthus was encouraging the spread of disease and plague in order to “save” humanity from the diseases and plagues that overpopulation fosters. But this self-contradiction is completely lost on those whose bloodlust drives them to support such drastic population reduction schemes to kill off the poor and downtrodden of society.

As repulsive as Malthus’ ideas are to our sensibilities, they have provided an ideological framework for those with a psychopathic urge to dominate others for the past two hundred years.

In his infamous 1968 book, The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne wrote: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. [. . .] We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.” He felt the cancer of newborn babies was so potentially devastating to humanity that in 1969 he actually advocated adding sterilants to the food and water supply. Lest there were any doubt about his remarks, he further elaborated on them in Ecoscience, a 1977 book that he co-authored with Obama’s current science czar, John Holdren, where they once again advocated adding sterilants to the water supply.

In 1972, ex-World Bank advisor and UN functionary Maurice Strong advocated government licensing for women’s right to have children.

In 1988, Prince Philip uttered his deplorable comment, “[i]n the event I am reborn, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.”

In the 1990s, Ted Turner told Audubon magazine that a total world population of 250-300 million people—a 95 percent decline from present levels—would be ideal.

Of course, the overpopulation myth itself crumbles under the slightest scrutiny. No one, not even the UN, is projecting limitless growth of the human population. Even the most alarmist projections show the world population leveling off within 40 years. What’s more, the birth rate in every major industrialized nation in the world is now below the replacement level of 2.1, meaning that they are in fact dying nations of aging populations that require an ever-increasing influx of immigrants just to maintain their population level. In addition to the well-known phenomenon of industrialization reducing the sizes of families, there are now indications that chemicals called endocrine disruptors which are mysteriously ending up in our foods, plastics and drinking water are limiting our biological ability to reproduce, with sperm rates among Western men declining a staggering 50% in the last 50 years with 85% of the remaining sperm being abnormal.

But still, even if we were to take the hysteria over population size at face value, the “solutions” suggested by the Malthusians—forced sterilization programs, de-industrialization, and even genocide—represent the biggest fraud of all: the idea that merely reducing the size of a population will somehow reduce the inequalities and iniquities within that society.

NARRATOR: War, one of the leading causes of world hunger, destroys crops and disrupts relief efforts. Widespread poverty prevents many from buying the food that they need. And a lack of infrastructure means that there isn’t a reliable way to transport food to areas that need it.


This is why reducing the number of hungry people will not make the remaining people less hungry. Those who have access to the food will continue to have access to it, and those who don’t will still be hungry.


Reducing population will not magically cause food to be spread around equally. And blaming overpopulation for everything does nothing but distract us from the real problems that we actually have.


SOURCE: Food: There’s Lots Of It

But therein lies the secret. The people who fret over the overpopulation non-problem cannot be reasoned with because their concern for humanity is only a pretense. The way they approach the problem itself displays their bias. Most people see an increase in the number of people on the planet not as a scourge, but as an opportunity to increase our understanding of the human species and its capabilities. In the twisted vision of the overpopulation fearmongers, however, newborn babies are not a joy to behold, not a gift, not the living, breathing potential of the future of the human race, but a cancer that must be killed.

The Malthusians are not interested in increasing food production, lifting the poor out of poverty or developing technology to increase our ability to share in the abundant wealth of the world. Instead they wish for the forcible sterilization of the poor, the consignment of billions around the world to grinding poverty and the elimination of vast swathes of the population. They do not wish to reduce the pain and suffering in the world, but to increase it. In short, the overpopulation hysteria is a convenient lie for the Chicken Littles who stand to benefit from the panic they themselves cause.

For the rest of us, it comes down to a simple question: After 200 years of the sky failing to fall, isn’t it time to stop listening to Chicken Little?

For The Corbett Report in western Japan, I am James Corbett.


  1. Debunking the overpopulation myth:

    Assume Global Population of 10 Billion People.

    Texas is about 269,000 square miles, which is 7,499,289,600,000 square feet

    Divide 7,499,289,600,000 square feet by 10 Billion People equals 749.92896 square feet per person.

    A population of 10 Billion People could fit inside an area the size of Texas, and each person would have a space of 750 square feet all to themselves.

  2. James, I agree with you on most things, (and I realize my beloved family are the ‘useless eaters’ they’re trying to kill), but your population arguments seem to be missing an ecological component.

    Namely, what IS the maximum human population in any region that will permit robust, resilient functioning of the native ecosystems — either for the necessary functions they provide for humanity, or just for their own right to exist?

    I.e., Your arguments would be more reasonable if you addressed ecological limits — which DO exist, despite the co-opting of ‘conservation’ by the elite.

    See the work of David Ehrenfeld & Derrick Jensen, for example.

    — Dan

    • It would be interesting to further explore this idea, or ideas of ecological impact without the contamination and manipulation by the elitists. I know that animal populations stabilize with carrying capacity of the environment and would presume human population would also stabilize. Many of the elitists and wealthy companies are the worst polluters of the environment.

      I presume Mr. Corbett’s argument is that human innovation could overcome both scarcity and ecological destruction. I think most ethical human beings would recognize the importance of maintaining and nurturing natural habitat including leaving some spaces untouched or even supported to maintain and allow ecosystems to thrive.

      Who would want to live in a world without a diverse number of species of plants and animals? I would even presume that most humans are born with the capacity for empathy which can be nurtured.

      • @cu.h.j

        “Who would want to live in a world without a diverse number of species of plants and animals?”

        Great question.

        I suppose those who suffer from ecological blindness and botanical ignorance might be happy living in a such a world. Having never known the soul enriching experience of standing in the presence of one thousand year old trees, towering above, moss hanging, babbling brooks meandering, having never walked in a Cathedral with mossy floors, they might be happy in their ignorance and proud of themselves for living in a concrete jungle of shining skyscrapers, surrounded by endless feeding lots, mines and toxic waste dumps. All part of humanity’s amazing ingenuity, which allows for endless “sustainable development”.

        What a tragic thought, yet based on my experience, I feel that there are a great many on this Earth at present that would not know what they were missing if we decimated all the wild places, the mountains, ancient forests, myriad winged, four legged, scaled and finned beings. They would order their processed foods on Amazon and from their favorite fast food joint (that uses mass produced nutritionally depleted produce grown in endless monocultures or fear, hormone, glyphosate and terror filled meat harvested from factory farms which both existed where forests used to be) and they would continue to live on as they do now, half alive, never having fully known what food for the soul is, never having connected with the elder species that our ancestors looked to with humility for wisdom, because they would all be gone. All replaced by factory farms, monocultures, mines, cities and other human ingenuities, all removed in the name of progress.

        • @Gavinm:

          First, I would like to clarify that I don’t think the earth is like a pie or inanimate thing to use up. I do think many people especially wealthy parasitic elitists probably do since this is how they use people. Maybe they have rubbed off on people who do just go along and do what’s easiest even if it contradicts their conscience. I’ve probably been guilty of this tendency in some ways, possibly supporting industry that exploits people and the environment.

          My understanding is that JC is implying that human ingenuity could be used in a positive way to support natural habitat while also simultaneously supporting themselves in holistic ways. Of course nothing is perfect and there will probably always be destruction and creation occurring, not just by human hands.

          The crux of this issue, is “are there limits to growth” in any population? I think the answer is yes but those limits don’t need to be set by psychopaths and in fact nature probably limits theses. Carrying capacity exists for other animals, why would it not also exist for us? The point is that greedy psychopathic plunderers should have no say in setting those limits.

          I also doubt JC would want his kids to grow up in a world where all there was was industrial cities and pollution and never seeing a blue sky or wild nature. That would be depressing and dreadful.

          I have been told by an old roommate who lived in a city in China that she rarely saw a blue sky. If their cities are the vision of thriving human populations, it’s not very compelling even without the tyranny. But without the tyranny, people might be able to fix their local environments.

          Does the non-aggressive principle apply to all life forms? Why or why not? And are all cities bad, toxic to mental and physical health? To the last question, I think yes and no. I used to enjoy city living in my early youth and liked visiting NY city. I have some relatives out there and it was pretty fun to be honest. It was also wonderful to have a natural space to also spend time in, old redwood forests and such. I also liked going to very remote places where there were rarely any people and the noise from cities was gone.

          It’s great to see the stars without light pollution and believe it or not, it’s nice to get away from people (for me). Some people are unpleasant to be around and I wouldn’t want to be neighbors with them. I like having enough space to avoid some people.

          Anyway, you provide good food for thought. In short, I do think there are limits and a carrying capacity and other life forms need to be considered when humans expand into natural habitat. The environment isn’t just toilet paper or food to eat but rather something that sustains our mental (and spiritual) health. If people are suggesting that there is no carrying capacity, as evidenced among animals, I’d say they mistaken.

          • When I’m mentioning carrying capacity, I’m referring to our earth and it’s ability to provide food, shelter, and enrichment without being destroyed by human interventions.

            Without the wars, geoengineering, pollution, GMOs, etc. I think human beings could figure out a way to do this, live in equilibrium with our environments.

            This brings to mind another topic, is birth control bad? I’d say no depending on the method. “Family planning” and birth control have probably existed for centuries or even longer. I’m not discussing abortion, but rather birth control.

            Human beings would probably limit their own family size and is common. If a family can’t feed 5 or 6 kids, they may decide to stop at 2 or 3. Does this mean these families have internalized eugenic ideology because they limited family size? I don’t think so.

            I do think what elitists have done is try to push families to limit their size because they are greedy psychopaths, not because they love nature. But I don’t think limiting family size is inherently wrong. There’s also a limit to the number of viable eggs women are born with among other variables which naturally limit reproductive capacity.

          • @cu.h.j

            Thanks for the thoughtful response and great questions.

            RE: “Maybe they have rubbed off on people who do just go along and do what’s easiest even if it contradicts their conscience. I’ve probably been guilty of this tendency in some ways, possibly supporting industry that exploits people and the environment.”

            I think they have, and I have also been guilty of that at one time or another. It is a gradual path to further bring my own choices into better alignment with what I know to be ethical, regenerative, honorable, compassionate and courageous. Thanks for your candidness.

            RE: “My understanding is that JC is implying that human ingenuity could be used in a positive way to support natural habitat while also simultaneously supporting themselves in holistic ways.”

            I like that interpretation and based on what I know of JC’s work and his love for people and the planet, I would tend to extrapolate the same thing myself (when I take a step back from the individual words in the post above and take into account all the other material and perspectives JC has shared).

            What I was trying to illuminate is that someone who does not know JC’s work as well as you or I might get the wrong idea based on just reading/listening to the material above by itself. Since many people look up to individuals like JC, my hope was to bring clarity to the broader implications and meanings of these concepts so that first time readers (and/or readers/viewers) that lean more towards the materialistic, industrial pleasures before nature and looking down on “environmentalists” in general would have more context in which to view the statements shared above.

            RE: “Of course nothing is perfect and there will probably always be destruction and creation occurring, not just by human hands.”

            Yes indeed, the main difference between the destruction and creation facilitated by the extractive machines that make possible the creation and perpetuation of industrial civilization and the destruction and creation in nature (Earth quakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, forest fires etc) is that in nature those natural disturbances only redistribute the building blocks of life so that new life can spring forth again, where as industrial extraction (mining, clearcutting, exploitative agriculture etc) takes material out of an ecosystem, and hyper-concentrates it in forms that are no longer cycling in the ecosystem they are from. Thus, nature initiates what you might call “destruction” yet almost immediately after, she also gives the material that was re-purposed in the disturbance event in the direction of fostering new life and increasing biodiversity, humans and our cities on the other hand, take biodiversity, diminish it, take materials and seal them in concrete jungles, creating dead space around cities and monocultures of humans within the cities (with tiny islands of pretend nature within).


          • (continued..)

            RE: “I also doubt JC would want his kids to grow up in a world where all there was was industrial cities and pollution and never seeing a blue sky or wild nature.”

            I doubt that as well, in fact I know he has an interest in things like regenerative agriculture, permaculture and food forests as he has done solutions watch episodes on some of those and mentioned others in a positive light.

            I was not trying to imply anything negative about JC’s views but the specific wording in the old post re-shared above struck a cord and I felt compelled to address the subject matter for anyone that might be a first time viewer out there.

            JC already partially addressed what I am attempting to get a clarification on in a past post with Derrick Broze (which I will link below).

            Basically I was trying to pose the same query that Derrick does in the conversation below (so that a new public engagement on this subject matter might help steer JC’s many curious and open minded viewers in a more regenerative and ecologically grounded direction).

            Around Time Index 42:00 Derrick talks about this subject :


          • (continued from above..)

            RE: “Does the non-aggressive principle apply to all life forms? Why or why not?

            For me, yes the NAP does apply to all beings. It applies to all beings because all beings are conscious, given the spark of spirit by Creator and deserving of respect. That is where the covenant of The Honorable Harvest (for more info: ) comes in when I take the life of plants to nourish my body. I ask before I take. And when I sense that the answer is yes, I give back for what I receive.

            RE: “And are all cities bad, toxic to mental and physical health?”

            “bad” is subjective and relative so I will not answer that here.

            Are they toxic? Yes most certainly. Mentally and physically on many levels. There are ways to mitigate the toxic effects and there are resilient individuals that thrive regardless of the mental and physical toxins, however, those same individuals would blossom in resplendent ways if they were nurtured in a deeper way by the more than human world that exists outside the barriers of the manmade deserts and worlds of concrete, glass and plastic that are modern cities.

            I also used to live in a city when I apprenticed for stone masonry (Vancouver). I liked the music and the food options. There were many material distractions available, many concerts, interesting cultures and options for casual sexual encounters with women that shared my interests, so in my youth I thought it was great. However, when I take a step back from the short term pleasures of the hyperstimulated city life to look at what it required to make that city I can see that even a relatively “green” city like Van city required mass destruction, mass murder, theft and pillaging. Where Van city stands once existed a ancient cedar and douglas fir forest inhabited by thousand year old trees and countless four legged, winged, scaled and two legged indigenous beings. Now they are all gone. The metal and minerals that were required to create that place necessitated enslaving human beings to mine and destroying entire mountains and rivers elsewhere. The destruction of mountains, rivers, lakes and sacred lands elsewhere in order to perpetuate the artificial hyper-stimulating digitally addicted, chemically infused city life in van continues even now.

            The lithium that is being pillaged from northern Ontario near where I live (poisoning the great lakes, clearcutting the Boreal Forest, killing the lynx, the caribou, the salmon, the sturgeon and countless other beings ) will find its way into all the machinery and gadgets that make that city life possible to continue.

            For more info on how the technologies in modern cities necessitate, initiate and encourage totalitarian systems and totalitarian thinking, watch this:



          • (..continued from above)

            RE: “is birth control bad?”

            Again that term is relative and subjective, but sure i`ll bite.

            No, I do not see it as inherently “bad”. If it is something someone sought out of their own accord and they are doing so with clear thinking and consideration, it is their body, they should be able to make what ever choice works best for them.

            Of course, sneaking contraceptive/spermicide compounds into “food”, big pharma products, water, air or anything else without people’s consent, is immoral, nefarious and constitutes an assault and violation.

            Thanks again for the thoughtful comments. I hope your 2024 garden plans are coming along nicely

    • RE: Derrick Jensen

      I will share a couple videos here where Derrick addresses some pertinent subject matter to this discussion.

      Firstly, a video that illuminates the true nature of Industrial Civilization (speaking to what perpetuating it’s existence necessitates in the form of Sacrifices of the beauty and diversity of the natural world).

      “Sacrifice Zone: Places” (w. Derrick Jensen)

      Much of the mining and industrial activity (clearcut logging) currently devastating the last few pristine wild places, old forests, clean lakes, rivers and mountains is activity that purely feeds into creating frivolous ornamental objects and/or technological gadgets that are nothing more than extravagant distractions and addictions for people in the “developed world” that are already digitally hyper-stimulated, physically obese, mentally atrophied and yet wanting more, more, MORE. More comfort, more pleasure, more “safety” from wild animals and “dangerous germs”, more concrete jungles and malls, more roads, more artificial constructs imposed on the natural world so that they can look at little pieces of nature, through glass, as voyeurs.

      Thus, if the dominant mainstream attitude towards nature continues as it is in the west now, the aspects of our industrial civilization that Derrick is talking about can (and likely will) continue to accelerate regardless of what the human population number is, as industrial fabrication, mining and building cold, dead, uniform places on what was once biodiverse life filled land is profitable in the context of the perpetual growth economic model regardless of the numbers of humans involved.

      The video I linked above begs that we ask ourselves the question: If the captions of industry found a lithium reserve on the edge of our property line and wanted to turn our backyard into a toxic waste dump, would we be willing to sacrifice our own little slice of the pie in the name of “progress” and “ingenuity” ?

    • RE: Derrick Jensen (another video)

      This one offers some insight into how certain aspects of our industrial civilization and the technologies it depends on instigate and necessitate totalitarian regimes and totalitarian thinking in the general population.

      “The Nature of Industrial Civilization”

  3. I would appreciate some clarification on this statement James (or interpretations and unpacking from any other Corbett Report members that may feel compelled to help me understand what he means in this context).

    “The earth is not a zero-sum game and human ingenuity has always and in every generation managed to bake a bigger pie even as they take a bigger and bigger slice of it”


    Here is what it sounds like to me if I just read that sentence by itself.

    “We can keep taking from the Earth as much as we want, resources (forests, rivers, lakes, minerals in the ground, fish in the sea etc) will not run out because techno-optmism will allow is to devise more efficient machines that can carve deeper and deeper into the Earth and if we do run out of raw materials, forests, rivers, lakes or fish in the ocean it won’t be during my lifetime so who cares. We can expand our cities exponentially and carve into the wilderness and the non-human beings will have to make way for our ‘ingenuity’ to expand our wonderous concrete jungles.”


    I do not buy into the overpopulation propaganda but I also refuse to buy into the techno-optimist, brightgreen environmentalist (sustainable development) propaganda.

    The Earth herself does have limits, and those limits are not being pressed by increasing population of humans, but by an increasing hubris, apathy and disconnect from nature of human beings.

    I outline some of the trends that I feel are feeding into this hubristic choice of human beings to fall into apathy and define themselves as takers (when we are capable of being key stone species, givers, stewards and regenerative agents) in this essay:

    • “Here is what it sounds like to me if I just read that sentence by itself.“

      Why would you do that?

      • @Slow Cured Anarcho Hippy

        Context is important but so is taking a closer look at the essence and attitude which is embodied in each individual sentence in and of itself.

        If one sees the living Earth and her ecosystems as a big pie which we can always take bigger slices of, whether one is talking about current (and future) human population dynamics or not, that is a mentality that will find its way into guiding decision making elsewhere in one’s life.

        Seeing the Earth as a dead thing, nothing more than a collection of “natural resources” to be carved up like a pie and put to use for “human ingenuity” is a perspective will be reflected and expressed in a variety of ways in one’s choices, when writ large, that perspective aligns with the mentality of the smart city builders, the totalitarian control freaks, the apathetic captions of industry that would love to clearcut the last remaining old growth primary forests on Earth if it would make them a quick buck.

        Thus, taking a look at an individual sentence (whether it is the one I highlighted above or any other sentence) with a magnifying glass, offers us the opportunity to see what philosophy, priorities and worldviews are baked into the sentence, bringing the true meaning and implications of the larger piece of writing into clearer focus.

        What are your thoughts on the sentence I highlighted above and what exact do you think it meant?

        I am open to discovering that I totally misunderstood the intended meaning and would appreciate you helping to bring some clarity to this aspect of the piece above if you are able.

        Thanks for the comment.

        • “Seeing the Earth as a dead thing, nothing more than a collection of “natural resources” to be carved up like a pie and put to use for “human ingenuity” is a perspective”

          …that you would have to take the sentence in question out of context to arrive at.

          “What are your thoughts on the sentence I highlighted above and what exact do you think it meant?

          “The earth is not a zero-sum game and human ingenuity has always and in every generation managed to bake a bigger pie even as they take a bigger and bigger slice of it””

          My thoughts are that it is probably true. I doubt that James Corbett would have said it otherwise.

          What I think it means is exactly what it says. As mankind’s needs have increased, human ingenuity has been able to find ways of increasing agricultural productivity.

          “Context is important but so is taking a closer look at the essence and attitude which is embodied in each individual sentence”

          I think that its really a stretch to ascribe any sort of anti environmental or short sighted, exploitative attitude towards nature to Corbett based on this essay without taking the sentence out of context.

          • @Slow Cured Anarcho Hippy

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what you think it means.

            RE: “As mankind’s needs have increased, human ingenuity has been able to find ways of increasing agricultural productivity.”

            I am glad you highlighted increased agricultural activity as this is a central aspect of the modus operendi of industrial civilization which I feel we need to take a closer look at.

            It is important to keep in mind that “increasing agricultural productivity.” has been the name of the game for imperialistic empires ever since the time of the Romans and we can see the result in the Mediterranean basin, the mountains of Lebanon, England, Ireland, Scotland (and countless other regions that have now been impacted by the perpetually “increasing agricultural productivity model”, including where I live now in southern Ontario, Canada which is now 98% deforested and used to be Hardwood Carolinian Forest from horizon to horizon and is now gmo corn and soy fields).

            It is also worth keeping in mind that in the conventional dominant model of agriculture, land is farmed in the same way that a mountain side is mined for coal or lithium. It is extracted from, in a one way equation. Thus, when we talk about increasing agricultural productivity we are talking about taking land that is biodiverse, inhabited by many beings and capable of building and stabilizing soil, stabilizing rain patterns and mitigating temperature extremes, and destroying it so that one single food crop can be grown there for a set amount of years, before that land becomes depleted and considered “inarable” (and typically subsequently sold to housing, condo, industrial or commercial developers to be paved, suffocated and commodified).

            The story of “increasing agricultural productivity” is really the story of decreasing biodiversity and turning forests into dead places devoid of life.

            Thus, without someone making it clear that they are talking about ingenuity and increasing cultivation, development of land and/or consumption as guided by some set of moral compass, ecological limits being acknowledged or regenerative/ecologically literate guiding principles, it is reasonable to assume that the endorsement of “increased agricultural productivity” does in fact equate to an exploitative attitude.

            My original comment was shared in the hopes of inviting some clarification so that people would not get that impression, as I personally think that James Corbett is a conscientious, intelligent and open minded person (that is quite aware of the detriments, short sightedness and immorality of conventional exploitative agriculture, clear cutting old growth forests and poisoning wilderness in the name of “progress”).

            Without making such a distinction clear, many people can get the wrong idea. Thus, I sparked this valuable discussion.

            Thanks for engaging and sharing your perspectives and thoughts.

            • You’re right, one could get that idea. I’ve noticed this a couple of times as well…

            • “The story of “increasing agricultural productivity” is really the story of decreasing biodiversity and turning forests into dead places devoid of life.”

              That is the story from your perspective and you may be right.
              You’re free to promote the implementation of your ideas and push for reform where you believe that its needed as long as your ideas don’t violate the private property rights and freedoms of others.

              “I personally think that James Corbett is a conscientious, intelligent and open minded person (that is quite aware of the detriments, short sightedness and immorality of conventional exploitative agriculture, clear cutting old growth forests and poisoning wilderness in the name of “progress”).”

              Yes, considering everything that Corbett has shared about himself, I think that is apparent.
              That is why I contend that to come to the conclusion that Corbett is in favor of damaging and unsustainable environmental practices one must take his words out of context. Not only out of context of this particular piece but of his entire body of work.

              I do like biochar. I make sure that there is some in all my compost.

          • @Slow Cured Anarcho Hippy

            I feel it is also important to highlight that the conventional mode of agriculture that I described above is not the only viable option for feeding our human family. In fact, conventional agriculture is a very primitive and idiotic form of food cultivation when compared to regenerative agroforestry (which was a technique that was widely used on what is now called “north america” and “south america”, among other places before the Europeans arrived and began to implement their ecologically illiterate and degenerative monoculture farming).

            The soils in the dominant European epicenters of imperialistic “civilizations” tell us the story of ecologically illiterate and/or greedy short sighted ways of living and interacting with the ecosystems they depended on to survive.

            The anthropogenic Terra Preta of the Amazon and the deep dark soils of the Great Plains of Turtle Island (aka “north america”) however tell a different story about how humans interacted with the ecosystems they depended on to survive.

            Anthropologist William Balée argues that at least 12% of the Amazon was directly or indirectly created by humans using “Dark Earth.” Terra Preta (literally “black earth”) is a manmade soil of prehistoric origin that is higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium than adjacent soils. It controls water and reduces leaching of nutrients from the rhizosphere. Rich in humus, pieces of pre-Columbian unfired clay pottery, and black carbon, it’s like a “microbial reef” that promotes and sustains the growth of mycorrhizae and other beneficial microbes, and it has been shown to retain its fertility for thousands of years. In university trials, terra preta has increased crop yields by as much as 800 percent. It regrows itself when excavated.

            William Devan, a geologist from the University of Wisconsin who is prominent in terra preta research, offers these comments: “The black terra preta is associated with long-enduring Indian village sites, and is filled with ceramics, animal and fish bones, and other cultural debris. The brown terra mulata, on the other hand, is much more extensive, generally surrounds the black midden soils, contains few artifacts, and apparently is the result of semi-intensive cultivation over long periods. Both forms are much more fertile than the surrounding highly weathered reddish soil, mostly oxisol, and they have generally sustained this fertility to the present despite the tropical climate and despite frequent or periodic cultivation. This is probably because of high carbon content and an associated high microbial activity which is self perpetuating.”

            William I. Woods, a soil geographer at Southern Illinois University says terra preta covers a surface area in the Amazon equivalent to the size of France.


          • (..continued from above)

            As Charles C. Mann wrote, in a piece that drastically changed the perception about native populations in the New World before contact, contrary to the popular isolated hunter-gatherer notions of natives, the New World was a highly advanced civilization that manipulated their environment on a large scale. He believed that humans were a keystone species—that is an animal that plays a crucial role in the functioning of an eco-system.

            Charles C. Mann writes about terra preta, “Faced with an ecological problem, the Indians fixed it. The indians were in the process of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up and ruined everything.”

            For more info:



          • (..continued from above)

            For more info:










        • @Gavinm:

          I don’t think JC’s view is to expand exploitative agriculture as a way of supporting human populations.

          Is it possible for large scale food production to simultaneously reach an equilibrium with carrying capacity?

          I think it could be possible. Personally I think local food production and small farms are much better than large scale agriculture. However raising domestic animals can harm the environment even on a “small”scale and depending on the complexity of the ecosystem it may be better to raise domestic animals on grasslands that exist in nature rather than clear-cutting etc. I think definitions of “small” and “large” probably need to be defined specifically.

          I am a meat eater and find the inclusion of meat beneficial to my health. But I also make sure the meat I eat is raised more ethically, free range without GMOs. I prefer to obtain food from small farms and I think that is preferable to large scale farming that likely lack ethical considerations.

          • Also, what is “carrying capacity” and what other life forms are considered when defining that?

            I like natural animal predators, like wolves and lions and also like ancient forests and think some places should probably be left alone.

  4. Thanks for the presentation Charlie Brown 🤣

  5. “To disclaim or to disdain” that is the question…

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