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

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 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

“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” 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 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.

CNS News

23 Comments on "‘Population Bomb’ Author Still Says Government Should Control Human Reproduction"

  1. No More Children on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:29 am 

    Endless population growth is just plain stupid. But this topic is taboo in most circles.

    Religion has taught that mathematics do not apply to population. Economists refuse to calculate all the numbers. Politicians remain embedded with their corporate owners. “Growth” (and greed, i.e., endless profits) are the only message industry, business and politics understands.

    Population control will happen irregardless through starvation and collapse. We also have new disease vectors helping out.

  2. Davey on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:32 am 

    The parent group is MRC. They are an anti liberal group based in Virgina. By extension these folks are part of the conservative mafia of the lobby of plenty. The worship economist that favor their conservative values. This group is ideological and dedicated to propaganda. This is precisely what we don’t need more of in the population debate.

  3. Kenz300 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 10:23 am 

    Birth Control Permanent Methods: Learn About Effectiveness

  4. SilentRunning on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 10:27 am 

    CNS, as Davey accurately notes, is a conservative skewed media outlet. They will always put a conservative spin on any story.

    But who ARE the conservatives, and why do they believe what they do.

    The conservatives are led by RELIGIOUS and BUSINESS interests.

    The religious conservatives are taught by their church. The conservative churches want more babies, because in their worldview, more babies = more believers.

    The business interests want more babies, because in their worldview, more babies = more future customers AND more future cheap labor.

    Neither of these worldviews takes into account physical, mathematical and biological realities.

  5. SilentRunning on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 10:48 am 

    Anyone who doubts that population growth MUST stop needs to explain to us how technology will allow the human population to go on growing indefinitely.

    At 1% growth per year, in only 10,000 years every atom in the observable universe would have to be part of a human body. This is NOT hyperbole. It is an easily verifiable mathematical fact. Long before that date, the earth would have to be covered wall to wall with a living mass of humanity (in only 1500 more years).

    Given that population growth will inevitably have to come to an end, the only real question is how that will be accomplished. In particular – will it be planned and humane, or unplanned and brutal?

  6. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 11:23 am 

    Silent, one of my biggest issue with Muslims, Christians, and Jews is the denial of the dangers of any further population growth as a central point in their dogma of an ever larger population of believers ordained by God. There is no indication of any alteration in thinking with the leadership of these religions. Their message of more people more believers is suicide. Their influence prevents serious world debate do to their government influence. Then throw in the worship of economist central to the global economic mantra that growth is good. Population control is an anathema for these groups. In fact the effective tools of population control are considered wrong and or a sin. With this situation can we ever have hope of what Silent mentions is humane and planned population control?

  7. noobtube on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 12:14 pm 

    An article on population that doesn’t mention Asia, Africa, the 3rd world, eugenics, or genocide.

    The poor areas of the world, namely the United States and Europe are leeching off the rich areas of the world (Africa and the Middle East) and the industrial workers (namely East Asia).

    There are too many people in the United States and Europe and the Earth just can’t take much more of this without a drastic reduction in their populations and lifestyles.

    The ruling classes in Europe and the United States know it and are trying to figure out a way to get rid of these ‘MeriKKKans and Europeans in a way that doesn’t lead to disruptions in elite control.

  8. GregT on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 1:51 pm 

    Albert Bartlett’s greatest challenge:

    “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

  9. J-Gav on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 2:39 pm 

    Good quote GregT.

    Just a note on “conservatism.” Conservatives, in the traditional sense, no longer exist, or the few that still do are sidelined and silenced.

    “Neo”conservatism is in fact the opposite of conservatism. For example, the Granger movement of late 1860s American farmers was a truly conservative effort to combat the monopolists.

    The Bush-Cheney shift, on the other hand (“We create our own reality”), was radical, even revolutionary in the worst sense of the term – nothing to do with traditional conservatism. Another example of how words can be bastardized and twisted to the point where they come to mean pretty much the opposite of what people general believe …

  10. J-Gav on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 2:53 pm 

    To continue with a tad more bite: it is high time that farcical and tragic dichotomies such as ‘liberal vs conservative,’ groomed to psychologically enslave the masses, be burned at the stake and given an indecent burial. Spit on it, pee on it, get rid of it!

    Back to the article – While I don’t disagree with Erlich’s view that over-population is a problem (and will become an ever-greater one), I don’t quite understand where he gets the idea that governments will solve this problem. They won’t. They’re too busy preparing for the next elections – seeking out and sucking in campaign funds, etc.

  11. peakyeast on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:17 pm 

    Was he actually really wrong and just a little off on the numbers?

    Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.

    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012

    I dont see him as really wrong – but i suppose it helps the optimists and the sheeple to think about it that way – so they can ignore how bad it actually is out there…

  12. peakyeast on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:23 pm 

    About 21,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations.

    Or 8 mio a year…

    Being chronically sick and malnourished with no end in sight is in my opinion not much better than being dead IMHO.. It certainly seems like it is much easier to ignore the statistics for the malnourished and dying than the death numbers which i guess is why we keep a billion people on a starvation diet instead of having ½ a billion well-fed.

  13. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:42 pm 

    Gav, these labels have lost much of their meaning in our hyper complex world of subtle differences broadcast to micro audiences through the net. The big parties are becoming somewhat irrelevant because of this explosion of media and ideological choices.

  14. Energy Investor on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 6:27 pm 

    Just remember that as of today, 97% of all land mammals are either humans or their domestic animals.

    What greater share of the world did “God” want us to have?

  15. dashster on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 7:51 pm 

    “Endless population growth is just plain stupid. But this topic is taboo in most circles. ”

    It is either taboo, or considered not a problem. And “not a problem” is a feeling of many Peak Oil people. I have seen it expressed here and on The Oil Drum a number of times.

  16. Norm on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 7:53 pm 

    The game has rules.
    If you are an illiterate trailer-trash dopehead living on food stamps smoking meth, you can have all the kids you want.

    If you are a Ph.D. chemist who discovers the cure for cancer and belongs to the Menza society, you aren’t allowed to have any kids at all.

    Another rule, all the intellectual elites agree that this is correct, this is how it should be.

    Last rule, all people are equal, there is no difference between a crackhead who breaks into your car, and a heart surgeon. You just total up the numbers.

    Questions? None? Good, class dismissed. Thats why i think people who write books like ‘population bomb’ are just such a pain in the crack, because they refuse to look at WHO they are counting up, they just count them up. So just an idiot who got too rich from his 1960’s book royalties. And couldn’t even come up with anything else since then.

  17. DMyers on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 7:53 pm 

    Population growth has led to economic growth in our lifetimes. It has been an important part of the equation of economic growth. More people need more products. Removing population growth will damage the economy. Pick your poison.

    Population growth is a very complicated phenomenon. Not to say most, but many pregnancies are neither expected, nor intended. Unfortunately, our sex drive is integrally related to procreation, whether or not procreation is the purpose of any particular sexual experience.

    How can the government effectively control something that the human actors involved did not even expect or intend? How can the government wrestle the sex drive into a narrow cattle chute of obedience? The answer is that it cannot effectively execute this mandate. Only Nature can correct its own excesses. Governments are only good for facilitating the excesses in the first place.

    Unintended consequences abound when it comes to government interference with basic human behaviors. An avoidance of Nature’s solution is the purpose of government interference, but the odds are it will only make Nature’s solution worse.

  18. diemos on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 7:58 pm 

    “Population growth has led to economic growth in our lifetimes.”

    And that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Every human being is both a producer and a consumer. Adding people may make the total size of the economy bigger but it does nothing to increase the size of the economy per person.

    It’s the increase in energy per capita over the past hundred years that has created all of our prosperity. Which is about to go into reverse as energy resource go into decline and population continues to grow.

  19. Makati1 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 8:26 pm 

    Population control by your masters is already underway in the form of GMOs and vaccinations that reduce the ability to have children. Bill Gates is doing it in 3rd world countries as a ‘gumanitarian’ gesture, but it is selected birth control. The GMO corporations are doing it by putting the same controls in our food in the name of ‘preventing starvation’.

    Did you ever consider what would happen if, one year, they didn’t sell any seed grains around the world and in the US? Widespread famine and millions, maybe billions, of deaths when farmers didn’t have anything to plant. THAT is why they want it to be legal everywhere. They still don’t have enough people snared and the clock is ticking…

  20. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:01 pm 

    D, you are so right about the complexity of the population growth/control issues. I do agree the natural urge to procreate and enjoy sex is innate and strong in all animals especially humans. One point I would make is economist politicians, and religious leaders have made it next to impossible for any kind of population effort to work except of course China. Unfortunately the economist have the Chinese reconsidering their policy. It is pretty obvious the time needed to make population control less painful and more palatable was post WWII to around 1960. We currently have in motion a young third world population ready to procreate unless extreme measures are taken. These measures will come within a few years. There measures will be outcomes of limits of growth namely a global liquid fuel crisis and food insecurity. The third world will be full of failed states in just a few years. The develop world will be in depression level economic activity with food insecurity and hunger. Third world will be cleaning house at this time with outright famines.

  21. DMyers on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:39 pm 

    There is certainly a reasonable suspicion that the project is already underway. The project is to starve us by stealth. The vaccinations are poison by consent. Yes, we are vulnerable to TPTB.


    Just because something is dumb does not make it untrue. Economic growth is defined as it is defined. I had nothing to do with that. I agree with your emphasis on energy per capita, e, and I pronounce myself a disciple of R.C. Duncan to verify it.

    I suppose one could make the argument: No dumb person could ever ascend to the presidency of the U.S., therefore, G.W.Bush was never president. But he was! Dumb things happen.

  22. Northwest Resident on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:42 pm 

    The age of oil and the exponential population explosion that came with it occurred during a nearly insignificant blip in time when compared to the earth’s history, and to the earth’s future. Those of us alive today have the honor of having lived through an excessively wasteful, grotesque and self-destructive orgy of what we called “economic growth”, which is really nothing except for increasing extraction of earth’s resources and converting them to waste. The population growth that accompanied the age of oil is nothing to brag about or to be proud of. In the not too distant future when a significant portion of the world’s population turns to maggot food, the survivors will all be wondering how humanity could have been so completely stupid.

  23. Kenz300 on Mon, 23rd Jun 2014 10:24 am 

    Around the world we can find a food crisis, a water crisis, a declining fish stock crisis, a jobs crisis, a Climate Change crisis and an OVER POPULATION crisis.

    Adding 80 million more mouths to feed, clothe, house and provide energy for every year only makes these problems harder to solve.

    If you can not provide for yourself you can not provide for a child. Endless population growth is not sustainable.


    India Overpopulation Documentary – YouTube


    Overpopulation facts – the problem no one will discuss: Alexandra Paul at TEDxTopanga – YouTube

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