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

The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet's Surprising Future Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Demography is destiny. It underlies many of the issues that shake the world, from war and economics to immigration. No wonder, then, that fears of overpopulation flared regularly over the last century, a century that saw the world's population quadruple. Even today, baby booms are blamed for genocide and terrorism, and overpopulation is regularly cited as the primary factor driving global warming and other environmental issues.

Yet, surprisingly, it appears that the explosion is past its peak. Around the world, in developing countries as well as in rich ones, today's women are having on average 2.6 children, half the number their mothers had. Within a generation, world fertility will likely follow Europe's to below replacement levels—and by 2040, the world's population will be declining for the first time since the Black Death, almost seven hundred years ago.

In The Coming Population Crash, veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce reveals the dynamics behind this dramatic shift. Charting the demographic path of our species over two hundred years, he begins by chronicling the troubling history of authoritarian efforts to contain the twentieth century's population explosion, as well as the worldwide trend toward the empowerment of women that led to lower birthrates. And then, with vivid reporting from around the globe, he dives into the environmental, social, and economic effects of our surprising demographic future.

Now is probably the last time in history that our world will hold more young people than elders. Most fear that an aging world population will put a serious drain on national resources, as a shrinking working population supports a growing number of retirees. But is this necessarily so? Might an older world population have an upside? Pearce also shows us why our demographic future holds increased migration rates, and reveals the hypocrisy at the heart of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the developed world: the simple fact is that countries with lower birthrates need workers and countries with higher birthrates need work. And he tackles the truism that population density always leads to environmental degradation, taking us from some of the world's most densely packed urban slums to rural Africa to argue that underpopulation can sometimes be the cause of environmental woes, while cities could hold the key to sustainable living.

Pearce's provocative book is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what demographics tell us about our global future, and for all those who believe in learning from the mistakes of the past.

Review:

"'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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Pearce, a journalist and former news editor and current environment and development consultant for New Scientist, describes how birthrates are falling as women have fewer children and the consequences of this decline for global population. He tells of the evolution of fears about overpopulation, from the eighteenth-century vicar Bob Malthus to twentieth-century eugenics scientists and family planning in China, India, and other countries; the impact of aspects like birth control and women's reproductive choices, the Irish potato famine, and green revolution farming; the shrinking populations in Europe and around the world; the effects of migration; the effects of the "youth bulge" on economies; and how as baby boomers start to die, global deaths will exceed global births. He notes that people are living longer, arguing that this will create positive effects like less consumption and more attention to the environment. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Pearce chronicles nearly 200 years of demographic issues, beginning with efforts to contain the demographic explosion, from the early environmental movement's racism and involvement in eugenics to coercive family-planning policies in China and India.

About the Author

Fred Pearce is an award-winning former news editor at New Scientist. Currently its environmental and development consultant, he has also written for Audubon, Popular Science, Time, the Boston Globe, and Natural History, and writes a regular column for the Guardian. He has been honored as UK environmental journalist of the year, among his other awards. His many books include When the Rivers Run Dry, With Speed and Violence, and Confessions of an Eco-Sinner. Pearce lives in England.

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

 

Part One Malthusian Nightmares

1 A Dark and Terrible Genius

2 The Road to Skibbereen

3 Saving the White Man

 

Part Two Rise of the Population Controllers

4 An Ornithologist Speaks

5 The Contraceptive Cavalry

6 Three Wise Men

7 Six Dollars a Snip

8 Green Revolution

9 One Child

 

Part Three Implosion

10 Small Towns in Germany

11 Winter in Europe

12 Russian Roulette

 

Part Four The Reproductive Revolution

13 Sisters

14 Sex and the City

15 Singapore Sling

16 Missing Girls

17 Where Men Still Rule

 

Part Five Migrants

18 Waving or Drowning?

19 Migrant Myths

20 Footloose in Asia

21 God’s Crucible

 

Part Six Reaching The Limits

22 The Tigers and the Bulge

23 Footprints on a Finite Planet

24 Feeding the World

25 Slumdogs Arise

 

Part Seven Older, Wiser, Greener

26 The Age of the Old

27 Silver Lining

28 Peak Population and Beyond

 

Notes on Sources

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780807085837
Subtitle:
and Our Planet's Surprising Future
Publisher:
Beacon Press
Author:
PEARCE, FRED
Subject:
Population forecasting
Subject:
Population -- Social aspects.
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Demography
Subject:
Emigration & Immigration
Subject:
Future Studies
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Sociology - General
Publication Date:
20100401
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
312
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 x 1.1 in 1.4 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Sociology » Future Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet's Surprising Future
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 312 pages Beacon Press - English 9780807085837 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Pearce chronicles nearly 200 years of demographic issues, beginning with efforts to contain the demographic explosion, from the early environmental movement's racism and involvement in eugenics to coercive family-planning policies in China and India.
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