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World War III: Population and the Biosphere at the End of the Millennium Hardcover – July, 1994

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this important, eloquent blueprint for ecological and economic sanity refers to our species' relentless assault on the planet through overpopulation, degradation of resources, factory farming and pollution. Tobias, a historian, environmentalist and film producer, focuses on destructive patterns in five bioregions--China, India, Indonesia, Africa and the U.S.--enlivening his research with interviews across the globe with ecologists, scientists, family planners, demographers, economists and local inhabitants. Drawing on the Jain religion of India--which stresses nonviolence, environmental responsibility, vegetarianism and interdependence--Tobias outlines a global strategy for curbing population growth, developing renewable energy sources, policing environmental abuse and airlifting urgent conservation assistance to endangered biodiversity "hot spots." This thoughtful, often lyrical report is the basis for a PBS documentary film of the same name to air in the fall. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Using a governing metaphor a bit less subtle than a strip mine, environmentalist, author, and filmmaker Tobias argues that humanity is waging a war of aggression against the planet, a ``melancholy war which is destroying Earth and all her precious progeny.'' He travels around China, Indonesia, India, Kenya, the US, and Antarctica and returns, laden with fact and anecdote, to tell us that there are too many of us and that rapine economic development is killing the planet. It's hard to argue with that. Tobias often finds a vivid way to make a point, clarifying, for instance, the argument for birth control: ``At current birth and death rates, the world is adding a Los Angeles every three weeks.'' At times, however, he writes like a prophet, or rather like a man who is trying to write like a prophet speaks, obscuring the essentially sober, substantial points he makes. But Tobias is both knowledgeable and passionate in his attempt to reconcile scientific rationality with a religious reverence for the planet. A one-hour documentary based on the book will air on PBS-TV in the fall. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 609 pages
  • Publisher: Bear & Co; First Edition edition (July 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879181185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879181182
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,300,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this and got the excellent video when it came out. He really showed that humanity was in essence at war with their own biosphere. The overpopulation has been in overshoot since the 1920s, and the environmental depletion and pollution were abominable. He went to various countries, showing their eco-problems with overpopulation.
Much has come true and more, like AGW has gone worse than the worst case scenarios of then. Soil depletion is worse. Aquifer depletion is worse. The human over-crowding syndrome of increased hostility, increased anxiety, and increased depression has spread. The whole thing is a nightmare of reality, and much worse now than when the book came out.
I gave the video to the library system along with the book, and the video "disappeared". The book went off the shelves. It was too much for the infinite Earthers to take. Because insufficient action was taken in the 1990s, the horror of the mass die off is too late to stop. The horror of pollution setting off horrible positive feedback loops in nature is close to too late to stop. All because, when faced with the reality of what was going on by Tobias' book and his and Oregon Public Television's video of the book, people stuck their collective heads in the sand and refused to think the Earth was finite.
Ecocide.
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Format: Paperback
This book is very impressive. The research is first rate and the writing is excellent. The coverage of population as an issue is comprehensive. It is especially effective in presenting the terrible consequences of human overpopulation on habitat destruction and biodiversity. I've read several books on human overpopulation. This is the best
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this a few years ago, and got a chance to look at it again recently.

I remember liking it very much then and it left a great impression on me. World population is the big elephant in the room that many don't want to address, yet it needs to be looked into.

Pursuing humane education, I obviously believe that educating people is the route I would choose. In the book, Michael writes about how in India they used entertainment and advertising to draw people to vasectomy camps and distribute condoms, and how the success of these efforts was an important landmark in family planning history. Throughout the book he repeatedly writes about the need of education, particularly literacy, as one of the most important method to control population. But aside from reducing birth rate, what else will literacy bring? We would most likely run into other situations were the indigent, ones held back by their own illiteracy, could now interact and comprehend more easily the rest of the world, wanting our same standards, thus degrading the planet the same way the industrialized world does. This is part of personal desire for evolution and the ensuing results that we cannot control: the price of development.

Michael also writes something that I believe is so true: Where there is poverty, illiteracy, and crime, there is less money or sensibility that can be mobilized in defense of the environment. Ironically, where there is wealth and relatively high level of universal secondary school education, there is an epidemic of hedonism that has clearly turned its back on Mother Nature.

This book has a lot of good points and many, ten years later, are found to be true.

A great read.
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Format: Paperback
The relentless litany of bad news is unfortunately a common theme in many environmental books,including this one. It completely overlooks the major worldwide trends--more food per capita,safer water,lower infant mortality,for example--that have increased life expectancy by more than 20 years since World War ll.
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