China's One-Child Policy: Does it do more harm than good?
Half a century ago, when I was a sixth former, earnest chaps used to turn up at our school to lecture us on overpopulation, the world's greatest problem. A few years later, when I was a graduate student studying the politics of the environment the agenda was being set by the likes of Paul Ehrlich whose book The Population Bomb was published in 1968. By the mid-1970s I was in the same institution as Ehrlich, Stanford University, though his status as an agenda-setter was clearly being challenged by more immediate economic problems.
The debate continues to this day, as does Ehrlich, now in his 80s, but still relaying much the same message, in tandem with his wife, Anne. In the age of the internet, of course the debate continues because all debates do, but it is much lower in profile now. It is worth asking where it's gone on the agenda; you can instantly consult numerous "population clocks" which show the global population to be about 7.2 billion and still rising steadily, which is more or less what the Jeremiahs of half a century ago expected and were worried about. Have we stopped worrying for good reasons or bad?
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