The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet's Surprising Future

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The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet's Surprising Future

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Well-written and important. . . . The book discusses the impact of the green revolution, massive migration, the Chinese one-child family programme, declining birth rates in the developing world, the rise of death rates in Russia, and more. Even those of us who have been in the population business for half a century can learn from its coverage of controversial topics. We hope [The Coming Population Crash] will convince many decision-makers, especially in the U.S., that they ignore population issues at their peril.”—Paul and Anne Ehrlich, New Scientist
 
“[Pearce] weaves the views of many of the world’s top demographers together with first-hand reporting from the slums of Mumbai and ghost towns of east Germany to bring to life what could easily have turned into a drab bit of statistical analysis. It doesn’t.”—Danny Fortson, Sunday Times (London)
 
“[A] fascinating analysis of how global population trends have shaped, and been shaped by, political and cultural shifts . . . Highly readable and marked by first-class reportage."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Fascinating [and] optimistic.” —Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Publishers Weekly
“Demography is destiny. But not always in the way we imagine,” begins Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry) in his fascinating analysis of how global population trends have shaped, and been shaped by, political and cultural shifts. He starts with Robert Malthus, whose concept of overpopulation—explicitly of the uneducated and poor classes—and depleted resources influenced two centuries of population and environmental theory, from early eugenicists (including Margaret Sanger) to the British colonial administrators presiding over India and Ireland. Pearce examines the roots of the incipient crash in global population in decades of mass sterilizations and such government interventions as Mao's one child program. Many nations are breeding at less then replacement numbers (including not only the well-publicized crises in Western Europe and Japan, but also Iran, Australia, South Africa, and possibly soon China and India). Highly readable and marked by first-class reportage, Pearce's book also highlights those at the helm of these vastly influential decisions—the families themselves, from working-class English families of the industrial revolution to the young women currently working in the factories of Bangladesh. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A veteran environmental journalist peeks into the future and reports some surprisingly good news. Beginning with Thomas Robert Malthus in the late 1700s, the study of human populations has been dicey, attracting its share of crackpots and doomsayers, many of whom have warned against the "folly of philanthropy" and touted pernicious practices from forced sterilization to euthanasia. Demographers' predictions also have a history of being spectacularly wrong-e.g., Paul Ehrlich, whose The Population Bomb (1968) forecast the starving death of billions in the 1980s. Pearce's forthright recounting of this dubious record helps establish credibility bolstered further by his worldwide travel and informative interviews. The post-World War II decades of maximum population growth, he writes, the greatest surge in our history, are coming to an end. With contraception a near universal technology and with women now clearly in charge of their reproductive futures, soon after 2020 "the world's population is primed to start falling for probably the first time since the Black Death in the fourteenth century." New Scientist consultant Pearce (Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff, 2008, etc.) foresees a "kinder, gentler, wiser, and greener world," a "low-mortality, low-fertility future" with "tribal elders" (dominated by women) taking center stage. Before entering this Promised Land we must first navigate a demographic "youth bulge," the cohort responsible for much of today's terrorism; apply new technologies to conserve environmental resources and stave off the worst effects of climate change; and curb rising consumption, a trend that threatens to negate advantages gained fromdefusing the population bomb. The author pictures an increasingly migratory world population-New York City today features more first-generation immigrants than at any other time in its history-and discovers silver linings even in megacity slums, which contain illustrative strategies for sustainable living. Consistently interesting, informative and inspiring reporting. Agent: Jessica Woollard/The Marsh Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807001226
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 289
  • Sales rank: 696,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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