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Paul Erhlich

Paul Erhlich was a Stanford biologist and famous author of the book 'Population Bomb'.
© Adam Smith Center, Singapore

Strikingly similar to the claims of Thomas Malthus centuries ago were the warnings of Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich in the 20th century. He was the author of a controversial 1968 book ‘Population Bomb’ that would go on to sell millions of copies and influence public policy.

Paul Ehrlich argued that human population was growing to rapidly and that the extent of this growth would threaten to cause severe famines, disease outbreaks, social unrest and other catastrophic outcomes. He has begun his book by stating that:

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate …”
Ehrlich also proposed a range of solutions to curb this problem, which included but not exclusive to coercive measures. He had written that:
“We must have population control at home, hopefully through a system of incentives and penalties, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control.”

Ehrlich also followed up with subsequent works in later years, such as the 1990 sequel ‘The Population Explosion’. Even though some of the explicit predictions he made did not come to pass, his views are nonetheless influential and have shaped public discourse in many ways.

© Adam Smith Center, Singapore
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Overpopulation: Resource Depletion and Human Innovation

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