The Population Bomb

The Population Bomb

John Dvorak’s got a big pet peeve about the fear mongers and doomsayers like the Club of Rome and author Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb. Dvorak accused Ehrlich of scaring the public with The Population Bomb and other ‘bomb’ named books to unnecessarily scare the population. The Population Bomb first published in 1968, according to one  critical reviewer,

Paul Ehrlich envisioned a horrific future with mass starvation of millions, if not billions of people by 1995. As we now know, Ehrlich was a Malthusian of the worst order, and almost single-handedly gave environmentalists a bad name. He is the epitome of an alarmist who has significantly harmed the ability of reasonable environmentalists to be taken seriously (The Boy Who Cried Wolf Syndrome). I’m sure Dr. Ehrlich meant well, but boy, was he wrong. This book should rest in peace, never to be read again. Or, perhaps it could be read as a lesson learned in how to avoid making extremist statements that make you and your colleagues look stupid.

First hand when I was in grade school, I experienced how this book heavily influenced many scientists and educators. My class went on a field trip to the Santa Cruz natural history museum where they had a display that revealed would our future would be in a dystopic, over populated world where starvation was epidemic. Our future meals would comprise of a few grains of rice and a piece of seaweed which they had displayed on a plate.  A telescope was setup for us to peer into as some sort of time portal. Inside the telescope was a slide of a very crowded beach. This was to portray our future place rubbing elbows in an over populated world. This expeirence has no doubt helped shape my skepticism of the ‘all IN’ zeitgeist of the theory of global warming frying the planet.

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