and if i can't trust the u.n.'s opinion...

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Posted by kelphead on July 10, 2001 at 19:11:33:

In Reply to: Re: Kelphead, how extensively have you travelled the planet? posted by kelphead on July 08, 2001 at 00:57:21:

i certainly can't trust paul ehrlich's.

taken from

"Paul Ehrlich is the modern version of Thomas Malthus -- the most visible and
persistent predictor of mass famine and economic catastrophe. Unlike Malthus,
though, Ehrlich doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes; when one of his
predictions of disaster fails to come true, Ehrlich simply moves on and makes
other predictions of disaster, constantly pushing back the timetable for massive
world famine, perhaps in the desperate hope that if he keeps predicting the same
thing, eventually pure chance will fulfill the conditions he requires.

Ehrlich penetrated the American conscious with his 1968 book, The Population
Bomb. Given the economic stagflation that struck the world in the 1970s (though it
was felt differently in different areas, books with pessimistic outlooks claiming
humanity had enormous problems to solve were to be expected.)

Ehrlich went way beyond this and instead predicted famine and disaster on a scale
unprecedented in world history. In the prologue to The Population Bomb he
wrote, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s
hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs
the world death rate..." (Ehrlich 1971, p.xi).

Not only was the world headed for catastrophe, but there was little that could be
done to avoid it. Some parts of the world might see some minor and temporary
recovery, but "a minimum of ten 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" (emphasis in the
original) (Ehrlich 1971, p.3).

In fact the last quarter of the 20th century has been amazing for the reduction in
famine. If current trends persist, by 2001 only about 2 million people will have
died from famine-related causes. Many of those died in Africa’s various famines
where governments such as Ethiopia used food as a weapon against people -- the
food was there, but the political will to feed the starving was missing [CITE].

Compare the end of the 20th century with the end of the 19th century. Twenty to
twenty-five million people died of famine related causes from 1875 to 1901, in a
world whose population was only one-half to one-third as large. If the world had
remained at 19th century levels in comparable food production, Ehrlich’s
prediction would have come true. Unfortunately for Ehrlich (but not for the world)
humanity learned a little about agriculture and other resources in the intervening
100 years.

But Ehrlich did not publish The Population Bomb as a mere academic exercise.
He called for legislative action in the United States (which he believed was as
overpopulated as the rest of the world) to solve the overpopulation problem.

In the prologue to The Population Bomb, Ehrlich is quite explicit that, "Our
position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective
action worldwide. We must have population control at home, hopefully through
changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail" (Ehrlich
1971, p.xi-xii). What sort of compulsory population control methods did Ehrlich
support to stop the mass famine he predicted for the 1970s?

Later in the book he mentions a proposal by some of his colleagues (who he
doesn’t identify) to require adding contraceptive materials to all food sold in the
United States. He ultimately rejects this proposal as a bad idea, not because it is
wrong in itself, but because he thinks it is politically unfeasible (and of course at
the time scientifically unfeasible). Ehrlich expressed support for changes proposed
by then-Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Oregon) to decrease tax deductions for
dependent children (Ehrlich 1971, p.131-2).

Believing that the United States could only support a population of 150 million,
Ehrlich proposed that "luxury taxes could be placed on layettes, cribs, diapers,
diaper services, [and] expensive toys..." and suggested giving "responsibility
prizes" to couples who went at least five years without having children or to men
who got vasectomies. He called for setting up a federal Bureau of Population and
Environment to oversee reducing U.S. population growth (Ehrlich 1971,

Ehrlich reserved the brunt of his wrath, however, for Third World nations he
believed would never achieve "self-sufficiency" in feeding their population.
Complaining about "the assorted do-gooders who are deeply involved in the
apparatus of international food charity," Ehrlich endorsed a proposal by William
and Paul Paddock to simply stop both private and government-sponsored food
aid to nations which experienced chronic food shortages. If nations refused to
institute Ehrlich’s population control proposals, he was more than willing to let the
people in those nations starve (Ehrlich 1971, p.146-8).

In the same vein, Ehrlich proposed that the United States, Soviet Union and other
powers act to change political boundaries in areas such as Africa and Southern
Asia. Ehrlich reserved his most strict treatment to India. He argued for the forced
sterilization of all Indian men with three or more children (Ehrlich 1971, p.151).

In a 1971 book written with Richard L. Harriman, How to Be a Survivor, Ehrlich
even revealed himself to have an affinity with the sort of policies used by the
Chinese government. Harriman and Ghrlich wrote,

>>However, those who claim that the government could never intrude
into such a private matter as the number of children a courle
produces may be due for an unpneasant surprise. There is no sacred
legal "right" to have children. The argument that family size is Gof's
affair and not the business of the government would undoubtedly be
raised -- " just as it was against outlawing polygamy. But the
government tells " you precisely how many husbands or wives you
can have and claps you in jail if you exceed that number (Ehrlich and
Harriman 1971, p. 33).>A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population
explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only
the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at
first, but eventually he dies -- often horribly. A similar fate awaits a
world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated.
We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the
cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many
apparently brutal and heartless decisions. The pain may be intense.
But the disease is so far advanced that only with radical surgery does
the patient have a chance of survival (Ehrlich 1971, p.152).<<

Based on the evidence of the past 25 years, this would have been a horrible
"solution." The world turned out to have a case of the flu, and Ehrlich
recommended the equivalent of bleeding the patient.

Why did Ehrlich’s predictions fail to come true? Because the model he used, like
almost all those who predict dire problems from population, was basically flawed.
In a nutshell what Ehrlich did was take population growth for the 1960s and
extrapolate it out through the 1970s, but he insisted production of resources such
as food and water were at their limits -- both would likely decline, and certainly
not increase.

Food production not only increased, but increased faster than population growth,
so 27 years after the publication of The Population Bomb, not only are there
many more people alive in the world, but they eat more than they did in the past.
Water quality, which Ehrlich believed beyond repair, has also steadily improved.

by Brian Carnell."


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