The Population Bomb Hoax Turns 50!

I was assigned to read this piece of crap when I was an undergraduate, I think in an English class (which was, of course, totally unrelated, but relativity wasn’t the goal; indoctrination was the object). Before the century was out, Ehrlich told me, there’d be no more oil in the world, the US population would have peaked at 180 million and masses would be starving, and the government would probably be putting birth controlling drugs in our water.

Ehrlich was just about totally wrong. Today he’s an “expert” on climate change.

I might add that in my Geology class, my professor taught me that we were headed for a new, blitz ice age! That same professor is now reaping grant dollars as an advocate of, you probably guessed it, global warming. So don’\t ever wonder why I don’t trust “experts.”

The 1968 doomsday bestseller generated hysteria over the future of the world and the earth’s waning ability to sustain human life, as Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich offered a series of alarming predictions that turned out to be spectacularly wrong, creating the enduring myth of unsustainable population growth.

Ehrlich prophesied that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s (and that 65 million of them would be Americans), that already-overpopulated India was doomed, and that most probably “England will not exist in the year 2000.”

In conclusion, Ehrlich warned that “sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come,” meaning “an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity.”

If these musings had been received for what they actually were—the wacky theories of a crackpot academic—all would have been well. But The Population Bomb sold some 3 million copies and influenced an entire generation.

Ideas have practical consequences, and Dr. Ehrlich did not leave his followers guessing as to what they ought to be.

In the course of his illustrious career, Ehrlich has defended mass sterilization, sex-selective abortion, and infanticide. In his call for radical population control, Ehrlich has said he would prefer “voluntary methods” but if people were unwilling to cooperate, he was ready to endorse “various forms of coercion.”

To allow women to have as many children as they want, Ehrlich said, is like letting people “throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”

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