The great demographer and economist Thomas Malthus was 23 years old the last time a British summer was this rain-soaked, which was in 1789. The consequences of excessive rainfall in the late 18th century were predictable. Crops would fail, the harvest would be dismal, food prices would rise and some people would starve. It was no coincidence that the French Revolution broke out the same year.
Nine years after that summer, Malthus published his "Essay on the Principle of Population." We would do well to reread it today. Malthus' key insight was simple but devastating. "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio," he observed. But "subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio." In other words, humanity can increase like the number sequence 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, whereas our food supply can increase no faster than the number sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5