’s Population Bomb Essay, Research Paper 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

’s Population Bomb Essay, Research Paper

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 to human life.

Traces of this chemical have been found at such bizzare places as in pengiuns in

Antarctica and Eskimos in Alaska. Another problem Ehrlich denotes is the

“Greenhouse Effect.” All of the carbon dioxide from industry and air pollution

has affected how much heat has been radiated back to space. Ehrlich surmises

that if we continue to tamper with the atmosphere and alter the tempature a few

degrees in one way or the other; we could possibly risk another ice age, or the

melting of the polar ice caps. Ehrlich closes chapter one with the basic theory

of, “Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticide,,

multiplying contrails, inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too

much carbon dioxide, all can be traced easily to too much people.

Chapter three outlines what is being done to combat the problems of

overpopulation. The first solution that Ehrlich crtiques is Family Planning.

Ehrlich denotes several flaws in family planning. He first notes how the Rythmn

Method used by many catholic nations is only 15% effective in the prevention of

pregnancy. He also notes that by the time many women come into family planning

practices they already have six or seven children. Ehrlich also uses India as an

empirical example of how family planning failed. India at the start of the

program had a population of 370 million people and a growth rate of around 1.3%.

After 16 years of effort by the program the population of India soared to over

500 million and the growth rate more than doubled to 3%. Ehrlich states quite

emphatically, “In fact, I know of no country in the world that has achieved true

population control through family planning.” The other solution Ehrlich

examines the probability of the producing more food and other materials to

maintain a larger population. Ehrlich starts by saying that this is basically

non-sense, the world will reach its carrying capacity and nothing can be done

about it. He says, ” Can we expect great increases in food production to occur

through the placing of more land under cultivation? The answer is a most

definite NO.” If more land can not be put under cultivation then the production

curve must some how be shifted to maximize output under the same status-quo

situations. Ehrlich really see no way to increase production enough to

counteract the effects of overpopulation. In the final chapter of what is being

done Ehrlich looks at the current solutions to the environment as either

impractical or borderline absurd. Ehrlich examines how industry is polluting

the atmosphere and yet their are no substantial regulations placed upon them.

Ehrlich mentions several types of pollution such as: pesticides, carbon dioxide,

detergent, and even noise pollution. Ehrlich closes the chapter with the

analogy,” What then, is being done overall to nurse our sick environment back to

health? How well are we treating these symptoms of the Earth’s disease of

overpopulation. Are we getting ahead of the filfth, corruption, and noise? Are

we guarding the natural cycles on which our lives depend? Are we protecting

ourselves from the subtle and chronic poisining? The answer is obvious the

pallatives are too few and too weak. The patient continues to get sicker.”

In the final chapters 4 and 5 Ehrlich looks at what solutions are

possible and what man can do to help out in the battle on overpopulation.

Ehrlich’s solution to overpopulation is explained quite simple,” A general

answer to the question `what needs to be done?’ is simple. We must bring the

world population under control, bringing the growth rate to zero or making it go