John Rapley in Aeon:
Neo-Malthusians credited environmental feedback loops, not moral failings, for regime collapse. In the 1960s and ’70s, works by Paul Ehrlich and Donella Meadows et al argued that the world’s population was growing so fast it would soon outstrip resource supplies, leading to (among other things) widespread food shortages. More recently, Jared Diamond wrote of the role that environmental depletion and diseases played in the fall of civilisations, and his theory that the collapse of Easter Island resulted from overexploitation of the natural environment has enjoyed particular resonance. For its part, the COVID-19 pandemic revived old theories about the role that diseases played in regime collapse, and we were reminded that plagues had laid low the Roman Empire and destroyed European feudalism.
Except, that wasn’t what happened. At least, not quite the way supposed.