‘Population Bomb’ Bombed, But Author Still Says Government Should Control Human Reproduction

By Paul Lagarde | June 20, 2014 | 12:59pm EDT



(CNSNews.com) -- Stanford Professor Paul Ehrlich, whose 1968 book, The Population Bomb, wrongly predicted that overpopulation would lead to the starvation deaths of hundreds of millions of people worldwide during the 1970s and 80s, is still claiming that the government should control human reproduction.

Despite the fact that his predictions of widespread famine due to overpopulation never came true, Ehrlich told CNSNews.com that he still stands by the statements he made in the book.

Current hunger around the world could translate into widespread starvation in the future as the world’s population expands and food becomes scarcer, he said.

“It is a major responsibility of any government to see to the well-being of the population that the government is presumably taking care of, and one of those things has to be the size of the population. That’s crystal clear,” Ehrlich told CNSNews.com.

"That's where the Chinese, perhaps erroneously, it's a big debate, got into the one-child family thing, because they thought their economy was going to collapse if their population continued to grow as fast as it was growing.

“How you do it is another set of questions, and whether it should be done by say, command and control, or by tax rules, or by trying to change ethics, or whatever else, that’s a big area for debate.

"But what’s not debatable, if you think about it for two minutes, is that a huge responsibility of any government is to try and have the size of its population suitable for giving its people both safety and a reasonable life.”

Last year, Ehrlich was quoted saying that "giving people the right to have as many people, as many children that they want is, I think, a bad idea."

But not everyone agrees with Ehrlich that governments should control population growth.

“We [developed nations] have put $102 billion into population control since 1995, $102 billion into suppressing the populations of developing nations, and all we’ve done is turn large poor families into small poor families,” Brian Clowes, the director of research and training for Human Life International (HLI), told CNSNews.com." It should have instead gone towards authentic economic development.”

In a recent interview with HuffPost Live, Ehrlich also claimed that humans were moving towards cannibalism “with a ridiculous speed.”

But Ehrlich told CNSNews.com that he was only joking when he said that. “It’s just further proof that people who are really stupid don’t have any sense of humor," he said. “It was obvious to anyone who has an IQ over 20 that it was a joke."

Since the publication of The Population Bomb, the Earth’s population has nearly doubled, to over 7 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while avoiding the mass starvation that Ehrlich said was inevitable.

He also wrongly predicted that India would be unable to feed its population by 1980, and that England would no longer exist as a nation in 2000.

But none of these predictions panned out either. Food production increased during the Green Revolution, a period of significant growth in agricultural production beginning in the late 1960s that was due to advances in farm machinery and the development of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

Agronomist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug was largely responsible for helping educate poor farmers in impoverished nations in Green Revolution techniques.

Borlaug, who has been called "the greatest man you've never heard of," has been credited with saving the lives of a billion people with his ground-breaking innovations. Within five years of the publication of Ehrlich's book, India was feeding its population thanks to the higher wheat yields his techniques produced.

Ehrlich also lost a famous 1980 wager with economist Julian Simon over whether the future cost of a basket of commodities he selected - nickel, copper, chromium, tin and tungsten - would increase due to increased demand from a surging world population.

Ehrlich had to mail Simon a check for $576.07 when each of the metals he selected cost less in 1990 than they had a decade earlier.

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