J. Bradford Delong - Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley, and Chair of Berkeley's Political Economy of Industrial Societies major - (with whom I have disagreed about many things in the past) has published some fascinating statistics and graphs and charts recently.
They show that between 500 BCE to 1800 CE economic growth, and population growth is meager.
And they show that after 1800 CE, world economic growth is clatogenic - EXPLOSIVE, by comparison - nearly doubling every few decades.
This growth in wealth and LIVING STANDARDS occurred even as HUMAN POPULATION SOARED, and as LIFE EXPECTANCIES GREW, TOO.
And still: PER CAPITA GDP and WORLD GROSS GDP SOARED! SO... the POPULATION EXPLOSION did NOT put a HUGE UNBEARABLE BURDEN on the planet, or cause greater POVERTY - NO, QUITE THE OPPOSITE OCCURRED.
WHY IS THIS?
Industrialization. And GLOBALIZATION. In fact, the more industrialized and globalized an economy is... the richer and healthier and longer lived are its citizens.
Therefore, what the Third World needs is more INDUSTRIALIZATION, NOT LESS. More factories and refineries and trade, and MORE GLOBALIZATION. As TOM BARNETT has shown, the countries which are unconnected to the First World are where all the problems are: poverty, disease, tyranny and dangerous domestic social unrest which also threatens their neighbors and their regions.
The Third World needs less attention paid to the failed and ill-conceived ideas and policies of affluent do-gooders on the Upperwestside and their internationalist fellow-travellers in Turtle Bay. The Third World needs to IGNORE the Left's currently favored concepts like "sustainability" "third-way socialism" "welfare" and "green-friendly" if they EVER want to lift themselves out of poverty and ignorance - (just as India and China did when they rejected protectionism and socialism and command economies).
NEED MORE PROOF?! Well, the world was free of industrialization in 500 BCE - YEA: THE ENVIRONMENT WAS "PRISTINE" - and most people died young and poor.