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The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet's Surprising Future
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The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet's Surprising Future

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A leading environmental writer looks at the unexpected effects—and possible benefits—of a shrinking, graying population

Over the last century, the world’s population quadrupled and fears of overpopulation flared, with baby booms blamed for genocide and terrorism, and overpopulation singled out as the primary factor driving global warming. Yet, surprisingly, it appears that
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Published April 5th 2011 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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This book is all about demographics. What happens as people have fewer children, live longer, move more? David Foot, author of Boom, Bust, and Echo argued that two-thirds of everything can be explained by demographics, and that's what Pearce sets out to prove in The Coming Population Crash.

Pearce starts with a review of demographic thinking, starting with the 18th-century scholar Malthus and working his way forward. Pearce is at his strongest, I think, when he describes how generations of polit
Pearce has never met an immigrant he didn't like, and that relentless optimism gets a little old over 300 pages. I could have wished for a more even-handed treatment on this subject, but the scope of his research is impressive. You might think that demographics is simply births and deaths, but Pearce looks at how the human life cycle has changed over the last 150 years and how those changes affect politics, technology, women's rights, and the graying of the global population. (Best sentence in t ...more
Liz Throop
Fred Pearce has earned his reputation as an excellent writer, and he has chosen an important topic for his book The Coming Population Crash. In fact, the issues he covers are too important to stand unchallenged. Here are a few of the issues I have with, The Coming Population Crash (alternate title Peoplequake). Chapter 10 “Small towns in Germany” describes in the drop in population in Eastern Germany caused primarily by young womens’ relocation to Western Germany. Pearce writes, “The former peop ...more
Bill H.
I found this a very interesting book. It is well-researched--not only does Pearce deliver the demographic stats, he also gets out and about in a staggering array of countries and communities to get a sense of the lives behind the numbers. Having not read a demographic study in a couple decades, I had a lot of catching up to do, so a lot of this was new to me. If you want to catch a short-form version of his overall description of where the world is at demographically, read his "Sex and the City" ...more
As befits a roving journalist, Pearce's book is a collection of field reports from around the world, sometimes amusing, often eye-opening and at times insightful updates of the current state of affairs on our planet, from a sociological and cultural point of view. I do agree with other readers that in such a short piece of work it lacks deep analysis and well argued conclusions, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this book. However his optimism and hope for a better future where manki ...more
Scot McAtee
Call me a Malthusian, but who isn't a little Malthusian at the core? It's difficult to maintain optimism when all we hear about is how badly we humans are trashing the planet and how quickly we're spreading. Based on some of the horror stories I hear from the people I deal with on a daily basis, it's hard to believe that the majority of the population even cares about the state of the planet.

I like the optimism of this book and if Pearce's research is accurate, then all that baloney I hear about
Only three stars because while I agree with the general premise, that population doomsayers are wrong (as well as mostly elitist and occasionally racist), Pearce is so unwaveringly optimistic it is hard to swallow. Also, there are not notes of any kind, only a casual listing of sources at the end, which dampens the credibility. I also wish he had laid out his hypothesis in the beginning. He just lays out facts and lets you do the analysis, so I didn't feel like I had a true understanding of his ...more
I had never thought about a lot of the topics this book discusses. The historical parts were interesting. I realize now how political population concerns can be. Your political take on what the world needs can really colour what should be done.

I also had no idea that Planned Parenthood had such disreputable, racist and classist beginnings. Naive me thought it was all about how children who were planned came into better lives.

Favourite quote in the book: "There is enough for everyone's need, but
Although it occasionally droned with boring data, statistics, and several-line-long titles of research organizations, Fred Pearce does offer a great perspective on the alarmist environmental threats we often hear bandied about. I especially loved his reviews of historical predictions, and how they were correct or incorrect. He actually gives me hope for our possibly dark future, assuming those in power do not blow up the world or do anything too extreme.
A solid addition to the natalist literature. This book gives several interesting vignettes (of Malthus' life, and of poor people living in the "slums"), although it doesn't hit the issue as squarely as "The Empty Cradle" or the newer "What to Expect When No One's Expecting."

Overall, pretty middle of the road on the liberal/conservative spectrum... and definitely worth the read.
Colin Anton
Found the book extremely compelling to read ( I set my own personal Kindle record for highlighting passages). Great *commentary* and insight on Malthusian eugenics and global population trends.

Then the author got too preachy, and rubbed me the wrong way. Any time you need to reference Tina Turner's bare midriff as a solution to global population issues, you've lost me completely.
Wow. Super interesting. This is all about the world's changing demographics, how they've shaped and been shaped by societal and economic forces, and how all this might play out in the near future. Includes some (often chilling) history of the population control movement. Pearce makes mostly optimistic predictions about our demographic future; I sure hope he's right.
This book contained a lot of excellent examples and case studies, but I didn't find that he had very much analysis on any of those case studies. He just kind of laid them out and was like, ok, you do the analysis. Nothing really original about this book, but a good reference if you want a place to have population examples handy in collected form.
Interesting subject but unfortunately the writing wasn't compelling enough to keep me reading. After months of putting it down and picking it up again, I stopped about two-thirds of the way through.
John Stein
A solid overview of modern demographic issues and a solid rebuttal of the nonsense of Malthus. The book is a little superficial and I wish it have a little more data, but very much worth a read.
This book is filled with LOTS of interesting insights. It's meaty and gave me a different way to think about population growth and the future of the world.
"Why would modern women want to have babies with undereducated, conservative, and socially maladroit 'loser men'?" (p. 98)
Really good mix of facts and personal stories to tie in with it.
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Fred Pearce is an English author and journalist based in London. He has been described as one of Britain's finest science writers and has reported on environment, popular science and development issues from 64 countries over the past 20 years. He specialises in global environmental issues, including water and climate change, and frequently takes heretic and counter-intuitive views - "a sceptic in ...more
More about Fred Pearce...
When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change Earth Then and Now: Amazing Images of Our Changing World The Land Grabbers: The New Fight over Who Owns the Earth

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