Paul R. Ehrlich

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Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born 29 May 1932) is author of The Population Explosion (1990)


  • A series of things have come up since then that have made the problem incredibly grimmer…. The ozone hole… acid rain…. Three hundred million people have starved to death since THE POPULATION BOMB was written. The famines weren’t as large as agriculturists thought they would be… due to the spread of… Green Revolution technology into the poor countries…. What makes us nervous right now is that we’re faced with again having to do something desperate to increase our food production greatly.... In 1965 we knew exactly how to do it, the question was could we deploy it fast enough—Today we have nothing left to deploy—that’s very scary.... As a species we’re not able to live on our income; we’re living on our capital, our deep rich agricultural soils are being destroyed, water is being overpumped, and our biodiversity, our life support system—we’re already far beyond what we can support.
    • KQED Radio City Arts and Lectures, San Francisco 1996
  • Solving the population problem is not going to solve the problems of racism… of sexism… of religious intolerance… of war… of gross economic inequality—But if you don’t solve the population problem, you’re not going to solve any of those problems. Whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem. Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control.
    • PAUL EHRLICH AND THE POPULATION BOMB, PBS video produced by Canadian biologist Dr. David Suzuki

"In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish." --Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day 1970

"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make, ... The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years." Paul Ehrlich in an interview with Peter Collier in the April 1970 of the magazine Mademoiselle.

By...[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s." Paul Ehrlich in special Earth Day (1970) issue of the magazine Ramparts.

"The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines . . . hundreds of millions of people (including Americans) are going to starve to death." (Population Bomb 1968)

"Smog disasters" in 1973 might kill 200,000 people in New York and Los Angeles. (1969)

"I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." (1969)

"Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity . . . in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." (1976)

"By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." (1969)

"By 1980 the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 because of pesticides, and by 1999 its population would drop to 22.6 million." (1969)

"Actually, the problem in the world is that there is much too many rich people..." - Quoted by the Associated Press, April 6, 1990

"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun." - Quoted by R. Emmett Tyrrell in The American Spectator, September 6, 1992

"We've already had too much economic growth in the United States. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure." - Quoted by Dixy Lee Ray in her book Trashing the Planet (1990)

The Population Explosion (1990)

  • Overdrafts on aquifers are one reason some of our geologist colleagues are convinced that water shortages will bring the human population explosion to a halt. There are substitutes for oil; there is no substitute for fresh water.
  • The key to understanding overpopulation is not population density but the numbers of people in an area relative to its resources and the capacity of the environment to sustain human activities; that is, to the area’s carrying capacity. When is an area overpopulated? When its population can’t be maintained without rapidly depleting nonrenewable resources.... By this standard, the entire planet and virtually every nation is already vastly overpopulated.

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