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Entries in population bomb (4)


The Population Bomb: Scenario 3 (1970)

It is a fitting day to look at Paul Ehrlich's third and final scenario of agri-apocalypse from his 1968 book, The Population Bomb.

Today Norman Borlaug, probably the greatest living American, received the Congressional Gold Medal. Mr. Bourlag received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 after becoming an integral figure in the "Green Revolution."

While Paul Ehrlich was advocating forced birth control and spiking foreign food aid with antifertility drugs, Norman Borlaug was figuring out how to literally save a billion people using technology.

Below are excerpts from Ehrlich's third nightmare scenario. Ehrlich thought it would get so bad so quickly that the Pope would give his blessing to abortion by 1974.

In 1974 the United States government finally realizes that the food-population balance in much of Asia, Africa, and South America is such that most areas cannot attain self-sufficiency. American expeditionary forces are withdrawn from Vietnam and Thailand, and the United States announces it will no longer send food to India, Egypt, and some other countries which it considers beyond hope. A moderate food rationing program is instituted in the United States. It further announces that food production in the United States will be increased only so long as the increase can be accomplished without damage to the environment of the North American continent.

Pope Pius XIII, yielding to pressure from enlightened Catholics, announces that all good Catholics have a responsibility to drastically restrict their productive activities. He gives his blessing to abortion and all methods of contraception. Several cheap, long-term anticonception drugs are developed and made available for wide distribution.

Famine and plague sweep the Arab world, which, in the face of Russia's growing disinterest, is forced to seek peace and cooperation with Israel. Israel, in grave economic trouble, installs a peace government and begins negotiations. Most of the countries of Africa and South America slide backward into famine and local warfare. Many adopt Communistic governments, but few are able to achieve any stability.

Ehrlich ends the chapter by callously calling the third scenario an appealing one even though it "presumes the death by starvation of perhaps as many as half a billion people, one-fifth of the world's population." Enhrlich then challenges the reader to devise a scenario more optimistic than the last and writes that he "won't accept one that starts, 'In early 1972 the first monster space ships from a planet of the star Alpha Centauri arrive bearing CARE packages . . .'"

How about a scenario that starts with, "In 1942 a young man named Norman Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics and decided to help save a billion human lives."

See also:
The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 2 (1970)


Population Close to "Standing Room Only" (Chicago Tribune, 1899)

The April 30, 1899 Chicago Tribune article, "Population Close to 'Standing Room Only'" seems like it could be written today with just a few dates and statistics changed. Much like the fear of population growth we've explored in Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book The Population Bomb, the article warns of a dangerous population explosion.

If the population of the United States continues to increase at the rate that has prevailed during the last twenty years in the year 2000 it will reach so great a density there will be room for an average of only one person to an acre in the vast area.

The article uses American presidents to distinguish between different times in history and different population sizes, as pictured below.

The fear of immigrants sounds similar to the arguments heard in American political circles today.

Deductions must be chiefly speculative, but all that have been made public by the weightier minds turn to the restriction of immigration as the most logical method of imposing a check on an advancement that is fast growing menacing.

See also:
The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 2 (1970)


The Population Bomb: Scenario 2 (1970)

Continuing our look into the future as presented by Paul Ehrlichin in his 1968 book The Population Bomb, today we examine his second scenario. Due to what Ehrlich believed to be over-population and inevitable famine the world has digressed into utter chaos. Again, this is excerpted from the 1970 edition of the book.

"In 1979 the last non-Communist government in Latin America, that of Mexico, is replaced by a Chinese-supported military junta."

"Only the outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of bubonic plague killing 65% of the starving Egyptian population had averted a direct Soviet-American clash in the Mediterranean."

"The third Los Angeles killer smog in two years has wiped out 90,000 people....The President's Environmental Advisory Board has reported a measurable rise in the sea level due to melting polar ice caps. [The Board] recommends the immediate compulsory restriction of births to one per couple, and compulsory sterilization of all persons with I.Q. scores under 90."

"Pollution and pesticide poisonings have supplanted cardio-vascular disease as the number one killer of Americans."

"[In early 1980] general thermonuclear war ensues. Particularly devastating are the high altitude 'flash' devices designed to set fire to all flammable materials over huge areas. At one point 15 monster fires rage in the Northern Hemisphere. Each covers an average area of 400,000 square miles - four times the area of Colorado."

"[Radiation levels] make two-thirds of the Earth uninhabitable. Pollution of the sea is vastly increased. Small pockets of Homo sapiens hold on for a while in the Southern Hemisphere, but slowly die out as social systems break down, radiation poisoning takes effect, climatic changes kill crops, livestock dies off, and various man-made plagues spread. The most intelligent creatures ultimately surviving this period are cockroaches."

See also:
The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970) 12 March 2007


The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970)

Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich, author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb, had some crazy ideas about the future. Ehrlich, so concerned about what he saw as a population explosion, wanted forced birth control, child lotteries and the "spiking of foreign food aid with antifertility drugs."

I recently found a 1970 edition of his book and now offer you excerpts from his bizarrely specific "Scenario 1" (of which there were three) featured in the second chapter.

Ehrlich stipulated that, "...none of [the scenarios] will come true as stated, but they describe the kinds of disasters that will occur as mankind slips into the famine decades."

"In 1972 news of the war in Thailand occupies the headlines of the United States, China has catastrophic floods, a breakdown of communications, and massive famines. Increasingly serious food riots in China, India, and Brazil are a matter of great concern to the Central Intelligence Agency."

"In early January, 1973, large numbers of Chinese troops move into the Thai conflict for the first time. They receive tactical air support from bases in North Vietnam."

"After an unheeded warning, tactical nuclear weapons are used in strikes on selected Chinese air bases, supply complexes, and staging areas in North Vietnam, Thailand, and southern China. With the connivance of the Russians a preemptive strike is also launched against China's nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, our defenses are not sufficient to prevent five 'dirty' Chinese thermo-nuclear devices, transported in submarines, from being detonated in the sea off our West Coast. Fallout results in more than 100 million American deaths."

If you thought Scenario 1 was incredible stay tuned for Scenarios 2 and 3.