The Two Theories For Greener Future

1.) Malthusian Restraint

Malthusian Restraint is theorized by Thomas Malthus (Anglican clergyman, political economist, 1766- 1834) who was concerned with the relationship between human population and scarcity.

In the original Malthusian argument, if the human population grows faster than the ability to produce necessities such as food, the cost of these necessities will rise while the wages will fall because there are more people available to work.

Modern Malthusianism goes beyond food; The better we get at making things, the cheaper it is to consume and the faster we reproduce and use up the planet's resources. Thus, this concerns the greener future concept.

2.) Solovian Innovation

This theory is theorized by Robert Solow (Professor emeritus at MIT and Nobel Prize winner in economics) who believes that productivity is able to solve the problem of limitations and to drive productivity, we need to invest in technological and process innovation.

According to Solow, humanity needn't conquer new worlds and acquire their resources: We just need to innovate within our existing context.

Comparing these two on the surface, Malthusian restraint is more like dictatorship centralized control system with taste of Utopian, it restricts freedom while cater for calamity. It literary is like a computer system which checks everything for audit.

On the other hand, Solovian strategy permits a freer and unbounded future for humanity by discounting internal struggles which is analogous to a distributed computer system whereby there is no centralized server and that something may go wrong along the chain of connections.

Success Stories:

Malthusian Restraint

The all-alumnium can introduced in 1963 by Reynolds Metals led to a huge increase in recycling because of the ease and profitability of recycling it.

Solovian Innovation

A classic example is when Malaysia was conquered by Japan during World War II, rubber distribution to Allied force countries were interrupted. They needed rubber for making more tires and hence was quick to innovate and mass produce viable synthetic rubber.

Malthusian & Solovian Hybrid

McDonald's commitment to conserving global fish stocks by having Marine Stewardship Council to certify that the fish in its Filet-O-Fish sandwiches comes from sustainable fisheries.

Walmart contributes to rain-forest preservation by getting its lumber certified by Forest Stewardship Council.

Balancing Act:

In 'Saving the Planet: A Tale of Two Strategies', a guide was developed to determine when best should these two theories be deployed optimally.
  1. Solovian innovation is a longer-term strategy because innovation takes time to formulate and mature.
  2. Malthusian restraint can buy time for Solovian innovation