Professor Ward Thomas
26 February 2018
Paul Ehrlich and the “Population Bomb”
In our time, we face a serious issue, that is population growth. As of December 2017, the
Earth’s population is approximately 7.6 billion people. According to the United Nations, that
number is expected to rise to about 9 billion by the year 2050, and 11.8 billion by the year 2100.
The fear of a “population explosion” began to surface around the end of World War II. As
human resources become more limited and our environment progressively degrades, the fear of
overpopulation becomes more apparent with every passing day.
“The Population Bomb,” is a book written by Stanford University professor Paul Ralph
Ehrlich, in which he talks about overpopulation on Earth. He grimly warns his audience of mass
starvations in the 1970s and 1980s resulting from overpopulation, shortage of human resources,
as well as the start of societal upheavals. Ehrlich also advocated immediate action to control the
population growth. He states that “the birth rate must be brought into balance with the death rate
or mankind will breed itself into oblivion.”
I believe with what Paul Ehrlich has to say because based on his book, he had accurately
predicted the population issues that we are facing in our time well before it became apparent.
The world population was only 1 billion by the turn of the 19th century, and was close to 6
billion by the year 1999. With the fast-growing population, we have begun to face issues such as
shortages in food, housing, and natural resources. Modern day technology could aid the problem,
but I am a firm believer that there is only so much that technology can do to sustain human life.
Ehrlich said that the United States “uses over half of all the the raw materials consumed each
year.” This in turn would affect the quantity of resources that developing countries may need,
where either the people of these countries may either starve or overtake the United States in
which they consider their “fair share.” For example, I’m Bengali, which is my ethnic
background. Bangladesh is one of the most overpopulated countries in the world with over 156
million people, with an average of 1,116 people per square mile. The still-developing country
also lacks many natural resources needed to sustain its massive population, such as clean water
and materials for housing. There are often upheavals taking place in the countries capital with
people protesting these shortages. Ehrlich goes on to state that about “a minimum of 10 million
people, most of them children, will starve to death during each year of the 1970s. But this is a
mere handful compared to the numbers that will be starving before the end of the century.” He
also said that in 2001, roughly around 2 million people would die due to famine related causes.
Ehrlich also stated that the United States can only support the population of 150 million. He
proposed “luxury taxes could be placed on layettes, cribs,...