- Paperback: 223 pages
- Publisher: A SIERRA CLUB-BALLANTINE BOOK; 13th Printing edition (May 1, 1970)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000EI3XOS
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Population Bomb Paperback – May 1, 1970
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Top Customer Reviews
Actually, Malthus never predicted catastrophic famine. He simply stated the obvious — when population reaches overshoot, the death rate will automatically rise to restore balance, one way or another (starvation, disease, conflict). A thousand people cannot prosper if forced to share ten cheeseburgers a day. The overshoot ceiling rises when food is abundant, and falls when food is scarce. Malthus was not a doomer. His cardinal sin was declaring the obvious — that there are limits to growth.
Ehrlich, on the other hand, actually did predict catastrophic famine, and soon. The first lines in his book are, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Millions indeed starved, but not hundreds of millions. Everyone agrees that this prediction was inaccurate or premature.
When Ehrlich was writing, India was sliding toward catastrophic famine. Only ten nations produced more food than they consumed in 1966. In America, the postwar baby boom led to a freakish population spike of 55 million in 20 years. The streets of 1968 were jammed with scruffy rebels protesting the Vietnam War, and our totally unhip way of life.Read more ›
He spends the next 180 pages proving conclusively that such is not the case.
It isn't simply that his predictions turned out to be wrong in some of the particulars, but rather that they were so completely wrong that they will NEVER come to pass (though he unrepentantly continues to beat the same drum).
Ehrlich predicted that, by the end of the 20th century, human want would outstrip available resources; whole areas of human endeavor would screech to a halt due to resource scarcity; England would, in all likelihood, cease to exist; India would collapse due to its inability to feed itself; and "inevitable" mass starvation would sweep the globe (including the US). We were on the brink of disaster in 1968, and the future looked very, very dark. In fact, he asserts, "it is now too late to take action to save many of those people."
And yet none of these things have come to pass. Why? Because Ehrlich makes the same mistake that Malthus did: he confuses the concept of finite resources with the notion that they (and the demand for them) are fixed. This is the point that Ehrlich's detractors (most notably Julian Simon) have been making for decades.
Ehrlich did not foresee the technological innovations (the Green Revolution) that have been such a boon to mankind, or changes in both the supply and demand of various resources (such as those in his famous bet with Simon). But such changes were inevitable (far more than the catastrophe that he predicted). The entire history of human endeavor is adaptive. As resources become more scarce, their costs rise.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The comments are interesting. The basics of a 2 fruit flies in a jar with sugar and oxygen, covered with saran wrap, and how that population explodes and then declines at almost... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Louis A. McCa II
This book is probably the most idiotic piece of trash written by a so-called "intellectual." I believe Ehrlich is STILL teaching at Stanford? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dr. Ron
This book, an early foray into the world of Cultural Marxism that was avidly adopted and espoused by mass media and the entertainment industry for the past 4 decades, was and is... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ensitue
Just another Libtard screaming "The sky is falling! Quick we need to live like commits with me in charge to survive!"
Funny he does not practice what he preaches.
I love that he pointed a finger at "death control" way back in 1968!
He was "right on"with that idea and still it is a taboo topic. Read more
Incredible book. A true visionary.
And people still don't get it. It's not a prediction with a deadline, it's a statement of what is coming because of our bad... Read more
I have owned this book since way before there even was an Amazon. I show it to young people to demonstrate that when the Chicken Littles start screaming "The sky is falling! Read morePublished 10 months ago by zman121
This book is an abject failure. The author should be ashamed for writing it. I met Erlich in Costa Rica in 1989 and was critical of the book, but he was unabashed about his fear... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mark Taylor