Last Updated 15 Apr 2021

Paul Ehrlich’s Time Bomb Book Review

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In the book "The Population Bomb" (Literary Digest written in1932) by Paul Ehrlich written in 1968 he states that he prefers the environment over man-kind, to make a balance between the population, the environment and the carrying capacity through population control: "one billion is the number of humans that Ehrlich says he would find acceptable". He also made predictions about what the world would undergo by 1970. He predicted that the world would go through serious famine and that hundreds of millions of people would have starved to death since there was not going to be enough food to feed them. But he suggested that the answer to fight against this was very simple: to have population control.

He also argued that population control had to begin at home and then push other countries to make the same thing so that the whole world finally combine each other to create the proper balance with population control: "We must have population control at home...We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control. " Through the writing of this book he is creating consciousness in people to decrease as possible the birth rates in the world.

'An essay on the principle of Population'

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Paul Ehrlich is criticizing the work titled 'An essay on the principle of Population' which was published in 1978 and concentrates in its author; the economist Thomas Malthus. In this essay, Malthus, becomes aware that with an increasing population food supply has also got to increase, they are directly proportional to each other. The bigger population there is, the bigger the food supply has to be. This work pushed others, like Charles Darwin and the sociologist Karl Marx to come up with their own ideas about this hypothesis. Many modern ideologies think that the carrying capacity of the world is about to be surpassed, that humanity is slowly reaching the carrying capacity of Earth. In other words, that the resources existing in the world, will not be enough to sustain its population. An example of this can be for example Asia, which is no the biggest continent in the world but it contains 1/3 of the world's population. And other countries such as Bangladesh and Niger are experiencing a high population and many people are starving to death.

Ehrlich also suggests that due to the decrease in fertility rates because of medical advances (vitamins, vaccines etc) the working population will also be decreased. Nevertheless, other countries that have high indices of growth rates have not suffered from an economic decline. This means that even though that the population is increasing, the working population is enough supply all the old people and young ones. Lastly he suggests that most of the worlds populations living in cities are beginning live in urban areas. Ehrlich's ideas are very pessimistic because none of them include a "good hypothesis" about the future of the world. He does this because he wants to create awareness and sense in people about population bombs.

According to optimistic views, all the advances that have occurred in the world are a positive thing and its actually called population growth. Optimists think that for a country to have more jobs and constantly renewing technology is a good indication that the population is growing correctly. On the other hand, Ehrlich believes that populations should be stopped from increasing more, since later on in time this will become a bigger problem. Ehrlich's ideas nowadays are not that useful, but maybe that his hypothesis and ideologies come true one day or the world takes the path that he suggests and by the writing of his famous book, he stops the world from dying of starvation and famine. One criticism to his ideas is that he does not take into account the development of the countries in terms of political, social, and technological, because the ideas may not apply for the USA but they do for Bangladesh, so his points are very generally done.

What Happened to Catastrophic Predictions Made by Radical Environmentalists?

Between the decades of 1960 and 1970, the industry of "cottage" which it had emerged from books with predictions of catastrophes that could occur because of population growth. Twenty years later, by 1990's, these books were proven to have wrong predictions in them, and that they had also exaggerated the view of the consequences of an increasing population. This piece of work makes a very hard judgment for Paul Ehrlich since he is shown to be as a liar because his predictions had not occurred. However, that didn't stop Ehrlich to keep on writing his "prophecy" books and predictions. Ehrlich was not seen as a trustworthy person and was considered to be a fake, radical person.

- Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich is considered to be the new Malthus. Distinctively from Malthus he never gave up with constantly making predictions. He was waiting until out of a coincidence, his predictions would actually become true.

The first prediction that Paul Ehrlich's made was that between the decades of 1970 and 1980, hundreds of millions of people would starve to death. When he did this the fact that future strategies to prevent this might arise was not taken into account. His prediction was totally wrong and his prediction about that the death rates would increase uncontrollably was also wrong. As time went by, famine was decreased because of the countries development. In some countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa, there was plenty of food but due to the fact that there was no political force to deliver this to the people. Ehrlich's intended to call the USA government so that they take charge into the population growth problem.

With that, Ehrlich purpose was to provide solutions to his main problem: Population growth. His idea was to include in every food production contraceptives. By this he intended to make everyone take in those products which would make them not produce any offspring and by that decrease the population growth. Ehrlich was wrong; again. To make this plan become a reality many things had to be done first, so it would take a lot of time to have it done. Also, this would be an act against the humanities beliefs and rights and at the same time, (taking into account what year it was when this plan was proposed) it would have been scientifically difficult due to the fact that the procedure could be very and extremely difficult.

Ehrlich was pro in Bob Packwood's idea that in order to reduce birth rates, for every child born, a tax should be placed to the parents so by doing this there should be reductions for children being born and therefore the birth rate is reduced. Because of this, pregnancies are less attractive to the population and therefore as explained above, birth rates and growth rates would decrease. Ehrlich suggested another way of decreasing birth rates and growth rates implementing what were called "luxury taxes" for baby accessories.

This meant that the normal price of the baby's accessories will be charged higher than normal; reducing the possibility of a couple to have babies or decrease the number they were expecting to have. At the same time, "responsibility prizes" as suggested by Ehrlich, would be awarded to those people; men and women who practice abstinence. For example: a couple that has been child-less for 3 years and their husbands were committed to practice a vasectomy, were awarded prizes. Ehrlich also came up with a very harsh and un-human solution. He suggested that any food aid from richer countries to poorer countries should be banned. In this way, the population starves and encourages having less people because food is insufficient for everybody.

Many people such as Ehrlich make the "problem" public, such as the population bomb to create awareness and concern in people and the government. They believe that the problems are taking place now, and not in the future. They want attention and fame from the rest of people. However, most researches have been proven to be incorrect and therefore, did not achieve their goal to attract attention.

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