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The Population Bomb

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Book annotation not available for this title.Title The Population BombAuthor Ehrlich, Paul R.Publisher Buccaneer BooksPublication Date 19951201Number of Pages 201Binding Type HARDCOVERLibrary of Congress BL 99003979
Hardcover, 201 pages
Published August 28th 1971 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1968)
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Jonpatterns One reason could be that 'growth' has been associated with reducing poverty.…moreOne reason could be that 'growth' has been associated with reducing poverty.(less)

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Richard Reese
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 catastrop
Renee Bulf
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
45 years ago, and the exponential growth of world population has continued. 3.5 billion peeps in 1968 and it has more than doubled since then. Agricultural methods that rely on toxic chemicals, fertilizers, and genetic modification of seed stock, all dependent on petroleum that has surpassed its peak production and, if you talk about sustainability, half of the population in the USA will look at you like you are crazy. When I read this as a junior in high school in 1969, I thought that the Chine ...more
George Mazurek)
Aug 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
A work of a true crackpot...
Martin Empson
Jun 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do any sort of campaigning around environmental issues these days and it isn't long before someone tells you that the problem is simple - there are too many people. This argument doesn't just come from the right, but is quite prevalent (though I don't think dominant) within the environmental movement itself.

Paul Ehrlich's book wasn't the first to put this argument when it was first published in 1971, but it was certainly enormously influential, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and propell
Alan Smith
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
A scary and honest book, written in the seventies, but even more true today than the time it was written. Ehrlich's book reminds you that that cute, puff-cheeked lil sweetie screaming and gurgling away in the corner, that gets you all those government benefits, is actually contributing to the dangerous overcrowding that threatens to destroy our world. True, some of Ehrlich's predictions were exaggerated, and he failed to take into account some of the mitigating factors, but his basic argument - ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

The Population Bomb, as its title suggests and as the tone of writing reflects, is a warning of impending crisis. It was one of the first books to discuss the inherent conflict between growing human demands and finite resources. The most pressing concern at the time was food security. Given population and agricultur
Mar 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-recommended
I read in college in the 70's. I was very impressionable. I have learned to be much more skeptical. Not recommend other than if you seek alarmist propaganda. ...more
P.J. Sullivan
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
The voice of a prophet crying in the wilderness. Half a century later, people are still sleepwalking in denial. The elephant is still in the parlor and still no one wants to see it, or talk about it! This was a very important book. You can argue with his timeline, but the fact is that the earth has added a billion people in the last twelve years! That will have consequences, and they will not be pretty!
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Some things should be required in order to graduate high school and being allowed to procreate. A course in LOGIC, even if it's just pass/fail, and reading this or a similar book. Humans are delusional and refuse to accept the earth and it's resources are finite. We need a serious wake up call, as there are ALREADY too many people on this planet, as the extinction of other species has proven. We are now a cancer on the planet. ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians of the sixties & of population theory
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: sciences
Like many of my generation, I grew up expecting nuclear war or accident, to which fears were added those of civil collapse and environmental destruction during high school. Unlike some, I sought out information about these eventualities rather than trying not to think about them and became politically active early on as a quixotic gesture in defiance of what appeared increasingly inevitable. In this context, my dad's copy of Ehrlich's Population Bomb was just more grist for the mill, a little li ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Well the worst of his predictions failed to come true. Though the ideas were valid ones, the jury is still out on whether or not he was right in raising the alarm, time will tell...
Murilo Forte
Congratulations Dr. Ehrlich, you were wrong in all your predictions, and contributed a lot to the hatred among humanity by encouraging only the rich to procreate and the poor to be sterilized
i finally got around to reading paul ehrlich's pivotal book on population and i'm glad i read it. more than expected, it's a little more doom and gloom, but i think that's my perception mostly based around his predictions for the state of the world by 1970 and the apocalyptic ink drawings. they are so simple, but stark and depressing.

overall, i agree that his message is spot on and the highlights from the book include some of his proposed solutions. some of them are simple and others innovative.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beware reading this book, it will leave you angry! This author saw many of our current problems and issues that we are experiencing daily back in the sixties, but no one wanted to listen. Or change. From the droughts and deaths from starvation in the early 80's to today's climate issues are openly discussed and a corrective plan of action is suggested. But it is a taboo suggestion - limiting the number of children people have. There are those who will quote scripture to defend their right to hav ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I gather the Population Bomb was quite a sensation when it came out in the late 1960s, and suggesting that mass worldwide starvation was inevitable in the coming decade or so. Obviously, the doom and gloom it predicted never came to pass, and it's not even in print any longer. It's cultural moment seems to have passed. It's an interesting read, but not for the reasons Ehrlich originally intended.

The tone of the book is...strident, I guess is the word I want. Ehrlich believed that the upper bound
Matt Cyprian
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book very highly even though I am actually quite critical of it. It is by a biologist with no acknowledgements in what, in some parts, are clearly international-relations analyses. Furthermore, as a mathematician-turned-political scientist, I find the methodology highly suspect. There is no recognition of the fact that food problems are largely problems of distribution; for a social science text it is void of any cogent analysis of social and political or cultural factors; it ta ...more
Gerald Kinro
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read “The Population Bomb” when it was originally published. At the time I was a student of the agricultural sciences, and felt that Erlich had omitted and/or ignored many of the principles of food production. Still I felt that there were some credibility to his words. With an alarmist tone, Erlich foresaw a desperate future with mass starvation for millions or more by the next thirty years. He proposed solutions such as government imposed population control with the United States leading the ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly alarmist, makes lots of sweeping statements not backed up by analysis or evidence, and given the benefit of hindsight, incredibly wrong in his predictions. Even so, many of his more moderate prescriptions are good ideas in any event, especially about changing attitudes around reproduction and the growth rate. In a way, it's a study in how not to be taken seriously in a policy debate, and a warning about how wrong even scientific "experts" can be. ...more
Jon Choi
This book is fascinating as a time capsule and historical document and that's the context in which I read it. It straddles this really interesting and horrifying line of rational discussion about environmental issues and straight-up eco-fascism. Would not by any stretch call this an enjoyable read, but certainly an important one for understanding the history of environmentalism. ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Aged poorly, a lot of the predictions Paul made haven't come true so I find myself doubting a lot of what he says. Occasionally he makes good points, but the book comes off as alarmist more then anything else. ...more
Jeremy Walker
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
The Population Bomb is a famously book to read for anyone that wants to understand the religious and moral foundations that inspired and direct almost every political and civil law or position over the last 50 years.

The author, thankfully, was self-conscious that he understood all his beliefs were religiously founded on man and man’s reason.

For the author, for mankind to prosper than death control and population control must be instituted and a strong government must be given unlimited power so
Kate Lawrence
Being over fifty years old, the book is of course dated now, but it was so important at the time that I can easily overlook that. Even today, the fact that we live on a finite planet which cannot support unlimited growth is a hard sell, as is a widespread commitment to mitigating climate change. Dr. Ehrlich somehow failed to mention the huge inefficiency--and devastating environmental impact--of livestock agriculture, but it was not well known at the time, and the number of these animals was sma ...more
Carly Rose
Jan 19, 2021 rated it did not like it
Terrible take. Starts with a completely racist anecdote of the author traveling in India and arriving to some emotional truth that there are too many people on the earth due to being surrounded by Indian people in the city. Erlich fanatically promotes immediate governmental population control of mostly global South women. He relies on fascist population control rhetoric. He condemns medical research devoted to extending life because he thinks people should die sooner to even out the population l ...more
Karl Bloss
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first picked it up, I didn't realize it was written in the 1960s. Nonetheless, the main message still holds. Since then we've managed to hold the worst effects at arm's length through technology. With the compounding effects of habitat destruction and climate change, we likely won't succeed with technology much longer unless there is an accompanying culture change on population and habitat protection. “Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stre ...more
Lottee Houghton
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read as part of an assignment for my masters but it is so insightful. I find it unbelievable that it was written in 1968 and pretty accurately described a scenario that is freakily like COVID. It explains that overpopulation causes more destruction of natural resources, which in turn leads to the spread of viruses from animals to humans more easily. Some of his solutions to the population bomb are very extreme but the book follows a logical argument showing that something needs to be done and so ...more
Christopher Byram
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I discovered this book when it was mentioned in a video uploaded to YouTube by the channel Paul Joseph Watson, entitled "I'm NOT eating bugs. 🕷️". Paul mentioned that the book has sold millions of copies and, despite being published in 1968, it predicted that hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death because of overpopulation. He claims that it was "scaremongering alarmist bullsh_t", just like contemporary narratives on a global food crisis. ...more
Paul Harvey
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in the early 1970s, and was persuaded by the argument that overpopulation represents a threat to human survival. Although its direst predictions have proven not to be true, largely due to advances in technology, the principle remains valid and has re-emerged at the core of the limits-to-growth theory.
With the benefit of hindsight, most of this book fortunately has not come true. I'm reviewing it about 50 years after I read it. ...more
Alex TangoFuego
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think I read this in 1976, at 16. Again, formative in my formative years.
Volgyesi Giorgio
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not great... And a lot of predictions didn't end up like in the book, but where are on that road.. That's for sure :-) ...more
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Paul Ralph Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator who is the Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology. By training he is an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera (butterflies), but he is better known as an ecologist and a demographer, specifically for his warnings about ...more

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