Too Many People?: Has the “Population Bomb” Exploded Yet?
In 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich published the book – The Population Bomb – which became a wake-up call to the world that there were just too many people on the planet; and if something wasn’t done about it soon, there would be grave consequences. Indeed, almost 45 years later, the world is enduring perhaps the most serious ecological breakdown in human history. Famine, climate change, poverty, starvation, ever-increasing pollution… and species are going extinct at 1,000 times their natural pace due to human activity, with 35 to 40 species vanishing each day.
Was Ehrlich right then?
In the April/May 2009 issue of Free Inquiry – a flagship magazine of the humanist/skeptic/science advocacy think tank, The Center for Inquiry – the editors published a new essay by Erlich along with three others on the topic of overpopulation. Only one of the four articles disagreed with Erlich’s opinion that we are at the brink of disaster.
Indeed, it seems counterintuitive to argue that 7 billion humans in every corner of the planet isn’t a serious problem, but is overpopulation the actual cause for our ecological crises? Is disease, poverty, water and food shortages, pollution, and climate change ultimately a result of what some cynics call a cancer on the face of the Earth… Us? Or is something else going on here?
We will address these questions and concerns with special guest Ian Angus as we ask, are there too many people? Angus is editor of Climate and Capitalism, an online journal focusing on capitalism, climate change, and the ecosocialist alternative. His previous books include The Global Fight for Climate Justice, and his new book is Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crises.