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The Population Explosion Hardcover – April 15, 1990


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671689843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671689841
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,213,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Ehrlichs, articulate and respected advocates of global population control, present an unequivocal message: the world's growing population dwarfs the ecosystem's capacity to sustain life--either humanity will implement massive birth-control programs, or nature will intervene and greatly reduce the number of people through famines, plagues and ecodisasters. This important book (a sequel to Paul Ehrlich's 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb ) sounds an alarm we can ill afford to ignore. Proceeding country by country, the authors, Stanford environmental scientists, map the connections between overpopulation, exhaustion of soils and groundwater, global warming, pollution, depletion of resources, dwindling biodiversity and the widening gap between rich and poor nations. Recognizing that their cause will be an uphill battle, especially in the U.S., they outline steps the average person can take to support planned population shrinkage and a less ecologically wasteful lifestyle. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- An offering of practical solutions to individuals, families, nations, and international organizations for preserving the Earth. This is a thought-provoking book, demanding actions that could lead to a hopeful outcome for the Earth and its people. If citizens and public officials examine personal, national, and international lifestyles and provide grassroots leadership to confront population growth and the ensuing crisis, the Ehrlichs argue that there is cause for hope. Upbeat in approach, the book zeroes in on a high-priority concern in a conscientious and intelligent manner, rather than propagandizing or threatening through scare tactics, but the authors never sugar-coat their strong concern for the survival of an environmentally sound world able to sustain the human family and the entire ecosystem. This action-oriented book will provoke much discussion and will serve as an excellent resource for social-studies and ecology courses. --Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, MD
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book is a sequel to an earlier, very successful discussion of population pressures. Key to the Erlichs' approach here is the formula I=PAT, which stands for Impact equals Population times Affluence times Technology. The larger any one of these factors, the higher the product, i.e. the impact - all other factors remaining equal. By "technology" and "affluence", the authors presumably intend the environmentally destructive types of each, though how qualitative differences can be expressed qualitatively is left largely unexplained. Clearly the equation aims at a very generalized and imprecise level of abstraction, more suitable for detecting trends than setting policy. Whether such streamlining conceals more variability than it reveals is not really discussed and clouds the work as a whole.
Central to the book is the impact of one particular factor, namely P or population. Growth increases in this category alone, as I=PAT shows, can undo strides in all other categories combined. At bottom, the book represents an assessment of these far-reaching population impacts plus specific projections based on current figures in all categories. In that topical sense the work is not strictly theoretical and though certain Malthusian themes are sounded, the work is not a gloomy updating of unavoidable doom. Changes in growth patterns can make a lasting difference, the authors are anxious to inform.
Sheer numbers of people, however, do not tell the whole impact story, which is why the Erlich's have included the factor of "affluence" in one of their better sections. In the role of affluent consumers, not all people count the same.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ayr Burns on November 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s 1990 book, “The Population Explosion,” should be required background reading for anyone interested in any aspect of environmental protection and/or planetary preservation. The reason: the burgeoning human population is the underlying cause of every environmental problem we face, from global climate change to habitat loss to species extinctions. Inasmuch as a book on human overpopulation can be called “popular,” those who are old enough will remember that Paul Ehrlich was the author of the first “popular” book on the subject of the dangers of human population -- 1968’s “The Population Bomb.” As Dr. Ehrlich admits in the preface to “The Population Explosion,” that book contained predictions that did not come to pass, which led to severe, often unfounded criticism. Consequently, in this book the Ehrlich’s generally avoid predictions, yet give us a fully documented argument why and how overpopulation is of the foremost concern. Sadly, most people didn’t heed the warnings laid out in this book, and the human population, which was 5.3 billion in 1990, has now exceeded 7 billion and continues to rise. If unchecked, the negative consequences, which are already beginning to be seen, will be worse than dire.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Kubalak (jkubalak@caribiner.com) on January 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Population Explosion is the follow-up to The Population Bomb (written by the same author twenty years ago). In this book he examines the results of the issues he raised in the first book as well as some of the new dangers of overpopulation created by contemporary reproductive science and ecological damage.
Early in the book he explains why overpopulation is such a pressing, but invisible problem. Occasionally his frustration with the problems he describes comes through but despite this the book comes across as an even-handed and rational examination of the facts.
In an age when women are giving birth to seven or eight children at a time because they're taking fertility drugs in a mad effort to procreate there is no better time to learn about the consequences.
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Format: Paperback
Following the publication of The Population Bomb in 1968, the new predicament of overpopulation was inducted into our gruesome mob of predicaments. World leaders snapped to attention, contemplated their options, realized that promoting population control was political suicide, and chose to step around the messy issue. The house was not on fire today, just some smoke.

The big exception was the Chinese, whose one-child program successfully prevented 350 million births. It was sometimes heavy-handed, but ignoring runaway growth would have guaranteed a super-heavy disaster. China had the same amount of cropland as the U.S., but four times the population, and the cropland was wearing out after centuries of organic farming. The last thing they needed was more mouths to feed.

In 1968, there were 3.5 billion people, twenty years later 5.3 billion. Paul and Anne Ehrlich realized that The Population Bomb had failed to inspire miraculous change, so they wrote The Population Explosion (1990). The problems they had predicted earlier were now appearing in many places, and a new generation needed an excellent primer on overpopulation and its side effects. This second book did not repeat the 1968 error of predicting timeframes. It was much more substantial than the first, and is still illuminating to read today. Readers will recognize that the raging bloody chaos of the twenty-first century is an obvious consequence of soaring overshoot.

In this second act, the Ehrlichs took readers into the ecological equivalent of an amusement park funhouse, where loud and scary ghouls and goblins frighten us at every turn — except that their eco-spooks were genuinely dangerous. The trends in food production and population were not in any way encouraging.
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