Ehrlich's Population Bomb


"People are realizing that we cannot forever continue to multiply and
subdue the earth without losing our standard of life and the natural beauty that
must be part of it. these are the years of decision- the decision of men to stay
the flood of man." Ehrlich here explains the one of the most pressing problems
facing man in the 20th century. In Population Bomb, Ehrlich explains that
pollution, shortages, and an overall deterioation of the standard of living is
all due to overpopulation.
In chapter one Ehrlich explains the pressing problems facing modern
civilization and how these problems are directly or indirectly linked to
overpopulation. Ehrlich explains situation using various examples of how mass
starvation is inevitable if population continues to increase the way it is
currently. In third world countries their food supplies are becoming
increasingly scarce because of their increasing populations. In these third
world countries the rich-poor gap is increasing creating the potential for large
parts of the population to starve. Paraphrasing Ehrlich's ideas in chapter can
be explained as; there is only so many resources and as population increases
those resources will soon be depleted. Ehrlich uses historical population
research to lead to the conclusion that in 90 years the population could be well
over the earths carrying capacity. In third world countries where population
control is rarely used population, pollution, and scarcity are becoming ever
increasing problems. Roughly 40% of the population in third world countries are
children 15 years or older. Ehrlich explains that if population growth
continues at this rate older generations will find themselves without adequate
food and medicine. Near the end of the chapter Ehrlich explains the cause of
the massive increase in population growth; as he explains that science and
medicine have decreased the death rate exponentially while the birth rate has
not decreased. In "Too Little Food" Ehrlich starts off with the assumption that
about 50% of the people in the world are in some degree malnourished. He uses
statistics from "New Republic" and the Population Crisis Committee to put the
number of deaths to around four million people dying each year of starvation
alone, not disease caused by starvation. Ehrlich explains that sometime around
1958 population growth exceeded the available food supply. When this happened
the laws of supply and demand took over and caused massive inflation in food
costs and causes marginal farm land to be put into production. All of these
signs caused a period of time with severe shortages in food. In 1966 alone the
world population increased by 70 million while food production remained
relativly the same from 1965. Ehrlich shows that the increasing food shortages
in under developed countries are putting an extra strain on US to produce more
food to keep them from starving. Another problem arises from these food
shipments to third world countries; third world countries are becoming dependant
on aid shipments, and because of this their own food production has declined.
Ehrlich says, " Most of these countries now rely heavily on imports. As the
crisis deepens, where will the imports come from? Not from Russia.Not from
Canada, Argentina, or Australia. They need money and will be busy selling to
food-short countries such as Russia, who can afford to buy. From the US then?
They will get some, perhaps, but not anywhere near enough. Our vast
agricultural surpluses are gone. Our agriculture is already highly efficient so
that the prospects of massively increasing production are dim. And the problems
of food transports are vast. No responsible person thinks that the US can save
the world from famine with food exports, although there is considerable debate
as to how long we can put off the day of reckoning. In the final part of
chapter one Ehrlich states all the problems that overpopulation has created.
One of the first problems is the environmental consequences of agriculture.
Even the US in facing problems maintaing our massive food production; erosion,
strip-mining, and gullying have become pressing problems facing the US.
Ehrlich presents a paradox by explaining that as food production is increased,
the quantity and quality of the farmlands are being destroyed; man is faced with
a complicated problem. One of these problems is pesticides. The pesticide
industry has actually created "super pests". These pests are immune to
pesticides. Ehrlich uses the DDT as an example of how pesticides have actually
comeback to damage the ecosystem they were meant to protect. DDT a pesticide
used frequently in the middle part of the century to control mosquitos and other
like pests, has been found to be a carcinogen and very dangerous