The Population Bomb

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The Population Bomb was a best-selling book written by Paul R. Ehrlich in 1968. It warned of the mass starvation of humans in 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. The book also popularized the previously coined term, population bomb.[1] The book has been criticized in recent decades for its alarmist tone and unfilled predictions. Ehrlich stands by the basic ideas in the book.


General description of the book

The Population Bomb was written at the suggestion of David Brower,[citation needed] the executive director of the environmentalist Sierra Club, following an article Ehrlich wrote for the New Scientist magazine in December, 1967.[citation needed] In that article, Ehrlich predicted that the world would experience famines sometime between 1970 and 1985 due to population growth outstripping resources.

Early editions of The Population Bomb began with the statement:

The book dealt not only with food shortage but also with other kinds of crises caused by rapid population growth. A "population bomb", as defined in the book, required only three things: a rapid rate of change, a limit of some sort, and delays in perceiving the limit.[citation needed]

Also worth noting is Ehrlich's introduction of the Impact formula or I PAT:

It states that the impact a community has on the environment can be calculated by multiplying the community's population by its wealth and how developed it is. Ehrlich thus argued that affluent technological nations have a greater per capita impact on the limited resources of the earth than do poorer nations.

The book sold over two million copies, raised the general awareness of population and environmental issues, and influenced 1960s and 1970s public policy.[citation needed].


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