Population Bomb

Do you see yourself as a worthless cockroach contributing to the collapse of human civilization? Probably not, but Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich thinks precisely that about you.

Fifty years ago, he published arguably the worst book ever written, The Population Bomb, which declared that human overpopulation would cause mass starvation. Instead, the Green Revolution (led in part by ACSH co-founder Norman Borlaug) caused global food production to explode, and the world population more than doubled from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7.6 billion today.

The reason The Population Bomb was so terrible is not because its predictions were wrong; most scientists make incorrect predictions. No, the book is terrible because of how it made people in the developed world...

I can’t just say happy birthday to this book — after all it’s pretty much anti-birth. But that’s what the book really was — an early harbinger of the many scares put out by this group or that. According to Ehrlich, by the end of the 1970s, we should have seen mass starvation on a level never witnessed before:

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. (1)

However, we seem be still be here, and in spite of some famines and numerous deadly wars since 1968, the world population has continued to increase. That’s not to say that everyone has enough to eat, or clean water to drink, but we certainly don’t seem to be on the cusp...