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Next: Major disagreements Up: Ehrlichs and Daily: Previous: Introduction

The Book's Main Contentions

  1. The proper sustainable population for the earth is between one and two billion.
  2. The United States, because of its high per capita energy use, is overpopulated. They say that an American strains the environment as much as 23 inhabitants of an African country.
  3. The impact (harmful of course) of the economy of a country on the world environment is given by the equation


    where P is the population of the country, A is the average affluence of its citizens, and T is the level of technology used.

  4. A good measure of the technology parameter T is the per capita rate of energy use.
  5. The world population is pretty sure to reach 10 billion before it starts down.
  6. They are hopeful that food production will rise enough to feed the 10 billion. It will require doubling or tripling food production which can probably be done.

    This is the biggest change from Ehrlich's previous views.

  7. They are disappointed that the Chinese aspire to a similar life style to that of the West. They regard this life style as unsupportable even in the West.
  8. The Chinese are particularly mistaken in trying to fuel their development with coal.
  9. The influence of multinational corporations is harmful.
  10. The world is using up its nonrenewable resources at an unsustainable rate. The examples they give are minerals and topsoil. They don't give a resource by resource opinion.
  11. The increasing use of birth control throughout the world is a hopeful sign that the population will peak out, although there are still countries with extremely high rates of population growth.
  12. The noble savage is a myth. Moreover, primitive life was indeed, as Hobbes wrote, ``solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short''.
  13. The slow growth rate of human population before modern times was due to a balance between birth rate and death rate.
  14. The Reagan policy of the U.S. not supporting birth control in undeveloped countries reduced the effectiveness of population control.

next up previous
Next: Major disagreements Up: Ehrlichs and Daily: Previous: Introduction

John McCarthy
Sun Apr 7 20:06:02 PDT 1996