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The population bomb Mass Market Paperback – 1971

2.6 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: [Ballantine Books; Rev. [& expanded ed.] edition (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345021711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345021717
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich achieved infamy by publishing The Population Bomb, one of the most controversial eco-books ever printed. Ehrlich has been condemned to spend eternity with Thomas Malthus, in a dungeon reserved for doom perverts. To this day, professors still use the two lads as great reasons to never take seriously anyone who asserts that there are limits to growth. We all know, of course, that humankind has no limits. We have technology!

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.
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Format: Paperback
I read the Population Bomb when it first came out, and believed it. Paul Ehrlich envisioned a horrific future with mass starvation of millions, if not billions of people by 1995. As we now know, Ehrlich was a Malthusian of the worst order, and almost single-handedly gave environmentalists a bad name. He is the epitome of an alarmist who has significantly harmed the ability of reasonable environmentalists to be taken seriously (The Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome). I'm sure Dr. Ehrlich meant well, but boy, was he wrong. This book should rest in peace, never to be read again. Or, perhaps it could be read as a lesson learned in how to avoid making extremist statements that make you and your colleagues look stupid.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book when I was an undergrad. Ehrlich's predictions were alarmist and frightening, but I took them seriously. This book has not stood well after a test of decades of time. Most of Ehrlich's predictions proved to be baseless nonsense, somewhat similar to the alarmist predictions of Global-Warming/Climate-Change/Settled-Science "true believers." There is no such thing as "settled science." "Settled science" is political science, nothing more. Long after reading this book, I was a student of Julian Simon. I did no know about the bet he made with Ehrlich, because he never mentioned it in class. Simon was as modest as he was brilliant. One thing that Ehrlich did not take into account was human ingenuity. Human ingenuity was the basis for Simon's optimism. Time has proven Ehrlich to be wrong, and Simon to be right.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Positive: It is an interesting study putting the real problem of demographics into its wider context. The author makes his argument clearly understandable without hiding behind too many incomprehensible maths.
Negative: Ehrlich definitely adopts the point of view of the "supreme white man", who deems colored people as below him. The most striking example is found in Chapter 1 "The Problem" when he describes his ride in a taxi with his family into a hotel through a slum in India. We clearly have the tourist shocked of not finding his conveniences from back home abroad on the one hand, the idiots and barbarians on the other. Fortunately this perspective has changed in the meantime.

Like any book the Population Bomb was published in a given time in a given context and with a given level of knowledge. It can therefore be easily understood that he did not include the declining birth rates in the Third World as well. In this respect, the book has become a historical source of the late 1960, an era long gone by.

To sum it up: An interesting read for anyone who wants to know more about the early days of ecologism and care for the environment. For a novice in demographics it is too outdated, and for a statistican and/or mathematician it is too simplistic.
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Format: Hardcover
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 behavior.
Yes. It's still going to happen. We ate up the planet and there's nothing left of it.
Droughts, floods, disease, wars; if that's not enough to convince you, your head is securely in the sand or up your arse.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are here. Conquest, War, Famine and Death.

Welcome to our extinction.
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