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Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born May 29, 1932) is an American biologist, best known for his warnings about the consequences of
population growth Population growth is the increase in the number of people in a population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size ...
and limited resources. He is the Bing Professor Emeritus of
Population StudiesIn the various fields of healthcare, a population study is a study of a group of individuals taken from the general population In biology, a population is a number of all the organisms of the same group or species In biology, a species i ...
of the Department of Biology of
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Du ...

Stanford University
and President of Stanford's Center for
Conservation Biology Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an int ...
. Ehrlich became well known for the controversial 1968 book ''
The Population Bomb ''The Population Bomb'' is a 1968 book written by Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among ...
'' which he co-authored with his wife Anne, in which they famously stated that " the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Among the solutions suggested in that book was
population control Population control is the practice of artificially maintaining the size of any population. It simply refers to the act of limiting the size of an animal population so that it remains manageable, as opposed to the act of protecting a species from e ...
, including "various forms of coercion" such as eliminating "tax benefits for having additional children," to be used if voluntary methods were to fail. Ehrlich has been criticized for his opinions; for example,
Ronald Bailey Ronald Bailey (born November 23, 1953) is an American libertarian science writer. He has written or edited several books on economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the P ...
termed Ehrlich an "irrepressible doomster". Ehrlich has acknowledged that some of what he predicted has not occurred, but maintains that his predictions about disease and
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...

climate change
were essentially correct and that
human overpopulation Human overpopulation (or human population overshoot) is the concept of a human population becoming too large to be sustainability, sustained by its environment or resources in the long term. The idea is usually discussed in the context of world ...
is a major problem.


Early life, education, and academic career

Ehrlich was born in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...
, the son of William Ehrlich and Ruth Rosenberg. His father was a shirt salesman, his mother a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
scholar and public school teacher. Ehrlich's mother's Reform-Jewish German ancestors arrived in the United States in the 1840s, and his paternal grandparents emigrated there later from the Galician and Romanian part of the Austrian Empire. During his childhood his family moved to
Maplewood, New Jersey Maplewood is a township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from ...
, where he attended Columbia High School, graduating in 1949. Ehrlich earned a bachelor's degree in
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ...
from the
University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) is a in , Pennsylvania. The university, established as the College of Philadelphia in 1740, is one of the nine chartered prior to the . , Penn's founder and first president, advocated an edu ...

University of Pennsylvania
in 1953, an M.A. from the
University of Kansas The University of Kansas (KU) is a with its main campus in , United States, and several satellite campuses, research and educational centers, medical centers, and classes across the state of Kansas. Two branch campuses are in the on the Kans ...
in 1955, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1957, supervised by the prominent
bee Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey. Bees are a monophyly, monophyletic lineage within the ...

bee
researcher
Charles Duncan Michener Charles Duncan Michener (September 22, 1918 – November 1, 2015) was an American entomologist born in Pasadena, California. He was a leading expert on bees, his ''magnum opus'' being ''The Bees of the World'' published in 2000. Biography Mu ...
(the title of his dissertation: "The Morphology, Phylogeny and Higher Classification of the Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea)"). During his studies he participated with surveys of
insect Insects (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

insect
s in the areas of the
Bering Sea The Bering Sea (, ; rus, Бе́рингово мо́ре, r=Béringovo móre) is a marginal sea of the Northern Pacific Ocean. It forms, along with the Bering Strait, the divide between the two largest landmasses on Earth: Eurasia and The Ameri ...
and
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the At ...

Canadian
Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Danish Realm, ...

Arctic
, and then with a
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
fellowship, investigated the genetics and behavior of parasitic
mite Mites are small arachnid Arachnida () is a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Cl ...
s. In 1959 he joined the faculty at
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Du ...

Stanford University
, being promoted to professor of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
in 1966. By training he is an
entomologist upright=1.2, A Phyllium sp., mimicking a leaf Entomology () is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions abo ...
specializing in
Lepidoptera Lepidoptera ( ; ) is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or ...

Lepidoptera
(butterflies). He was appointed to the Bing Professorship in 1977. He is well-known for popularizing the term
coevolution In biology, coevolution occurs when two or more species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined ...
in an influential 1964 paper co-authored with the botanist Peter H. Raven, where they proposed that an evolutionary 'arms-race' between plants and insects explains the extreme diversification of plants and insects. This paper was highly influential on the then nascent field of
chemical ecologyChemical ecology is the study of chemically-mediated interactions between living organisms, and the effects of those interactions on the demography, behavior and ultimately evolution of the organisms involved. It is thus a vast and highly interdiscip ...
. He is president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. He is a fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution ...
, the United States
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
, the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded 1780, (abbreviation: AAAS) is one of the oldest learned societies A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization ...

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
and the
American Philosophical Society The American Philosophical Society (APS), founded in 1743 in Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community ...
.


Overpopulation debate

A lecture that Ehrlich gave on the topic of overpopulation at the
Commonwealth Club of California The Commonwealth Club of California is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization based in Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northe ...
was broadcast by radio in April 1967. The success of the lecture caused further publicity, and the suggestion from
David Brower David Ross Brower (; July 1, 1912 – November 5, 2000) was a prominent environmentalist Image:Voynet Montreuil 2008-01-06.jpg, Dominique Voynet, 2008 An environmentalist is a person who is concerned with and/or advocates for the protection ...
the executive director of the environmentalist
Sierra Club The Sierra Club is an environmental organization An environmental organization is an organization coming out of the Conservation movement, conservation or environmental movements that seeks to protect, analyse or monitor the environment against m ...
, and
Ian Ballantine Ian Keith Ballantine (February 15, 1916 – March 9, 1995) was a pioneering American publisher who founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both induct ...
of
Ballantine Books Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998 and remains ...
to write a book concerning the topic. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne H. Ehrlich, collaborated on the book, ''
The Population Bomb ''The Population Bomb'' is a 1968 book written by Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among ...
'', but the publisher insisted that a single author be credited. Although Ehrlich was not the first to warn about population issues — concern had been widespread during the 1950s and 1960s — his charismatic and media-savvy methods helped publicize the topic.


Writings


''The Population Bomb'' (1968)

The original edition of ''The Population Bomb'' began with this statement: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate ..." Ehrlich argued that the human population was too great, and that while the extent of disaster could be mitigated, humanity could not prevent severe famines, the spread of disease, social unrest, and other negative consequences of overpopulation. By the end of the 1970s, this prediction proved to be incorrect. However, he continued to argue that societies must take strong action to decrease population growth in order to mitigate future disasters, both ecological and social. In the book Ehrlich presented a number of "scenarios" detailing possible future events, some of which have been used as examples of errors in the years since. Of these scenarios, Ehrlich has said that although, "we clearly stated that they were not predictions and that 'we can be sure that none of them will come true as stated,' (p. 72) – their failure to occur is often cited as a failure of prediction. In honesty, the scenarios were way off, especially in their timing (we underestimated the resilience of the world system). But they did deal with future issues that people in 1968 should have been thinking about." Ehrlich further states that he still endorses the main thesis of the book, and that its message is as apt now as it was in 1968. Ehrlich's opinions have evolved over time, and he has proposed different solutions to the problem of overpopulation. In ''The Population Bomb'' he wrote, "We must have
population control Population control is the practice of artificially maintaining the size of any population. It simply refers to the act of limiting the size of an animal population so that it remains manageable, as opposed to the act of protecting a species from e ...
at home, hopefully through a system of incentives and penalties, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control." Voluntary measures he has endorsed include the easiest possible availability of
birth control Birth control, also known as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woma ...
and
abortion Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism ...

abortion
. In 1967 he had expressed his belief that aid should only be given to those countries that were not considered to be "hopeless" to feed their own populations.


''The Population Explosion'' (1990)

In their sequel to ''The Population Bomb'', the Ehrlichs wrote about how the world's growing population dwarfs the Earth's capacity to sustain current living standards. The book calls for action to confront population growth and the ensuing crisis:


''Optimum Human Population Size'' (1994)

In this paper, the Ehrlichs discuss the 'optimal size' for human population, given current technological realities. They refer to establishing "social policies to influence fertility rates."


After 2000

During a 2004 interview, Ehrlich answered questions about the predictions he made in ''The Population Bomb''. He acknowledged that some of what he had published had not occurred, but reaffirmed his basic opinion that overpopulation is a major problem. He noted that, "Fifty-eight academies of science said that same thing in 1994, as did the world scientists' warning to humanity in the same year. My view has become depressingly mainline!" Ehrlich also stated that 600 million people were very hungry, billions were under-nourished, and that his predictions about disease and climate change were essentially correct. Retrospectively, Ehrlich believes that ''The Population Bomb'' was "way too optimistic". In a 2008 discussion hosted by the website ''
Salon Salon may refer to: * Beauty salon A beauty salon or beauty parlor is an establishment dealing with Cosmetics, cosmetic treatments for men and women. There's a difference between a beauty salon and a beauty parlor which is that a beauty salo ...
'', Paul Ehrlich has become more critical of the United States specifically, claiming that it should control its population and consumption as an example to the rest of the world. He still thinks that governments should discourage people from having more than two children, suggesting, for example, a higher tax rate for larger families. In 2011, as the world's population passed the seven billion mark Ehrlich has argued that the next two billion people on Earth would cause more damage than the previous two billion because we are now increasingly having to resort to using more marginal and environmentally damaging resources. As of 2013, Ehrlich continues to perform policy research concerning population and resource issues, with an emphasis upon
endangered species An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group ...
,
cultural evolution Cultural evolution is an evolutionary theory Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions ...

cultural evolution
,
environmental ethics In environmental philosophy, environmental ethics is an established field of practical philosophy "which reconstructs the essential types of argumentation that can be made for protecting natural entities and the sustainable use of natural resour ...
, and the preservation of resources. Along with Dr. Gretchen Daily, he has performed work in countryside
biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geograp ...

biogeography
; that is, the study of making human-disturbed areas hospitable to
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
. His research group at Stanford University examines extensively natural populations of the
Bay checkerspot butterfly The Bay checkerspot (''Euphydryas editha bayensis'') is a butterfly Butterflies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
(''Euphydryas editha bayensis''). The population-related disaster that Ehrlich predicted has largely failed to materialize, including the "hundreds of millions" of starvation deaths in the 1970s and the tens of millions of deaths in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Slowing of population growth rates and new food production technologies have increased the food supply faster than the population. Nonetheless, Ehrlich continues to stand by his general thesis that the human population is too large, posing a direct threat to human survival and the environment of the planet. Indeed, he states that if he were to write the book today, “My language would be even more apocalyptic.” In 2018, he emphasized the optimum population size is between 1.5 and 2 billion people.


Reception

Critics have disputed Ehrlich's main thesis about overpopulation and its effects on the environment and human society, and his solutions, as well as some of his specific predictions made since the late 1960s. One criticism concerns Ehrlich's allegedly alarmist and sensational statements and inaccurate "predictions".
Ronald Bailey Ronald Bailey (born November 23, 1953) is an American libertarian science writer. He has written or edited several books on economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the P ...
of ''
Reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
'' magazine has termed him an "irrepressible doomster ... who, as far as I can tell, has never been right in any of his forecasts of imminent catastrophe." On the first
Earth Day Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection Environmental protection is the practice of protecting the natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all and n ...

Earth Day
in 1970, he warned that " ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish." In a 1971 speech, he predicted that: "By the year 2000 the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people." "If I were a gambler," Professor Ehrlich concluded before boarding an airplane, " I would take even money that
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
will not exist in the year 2000." When this scenario did not occur, he responded that "When you predict the future, you get things wrong. How wrong is another question. I would have lost if I had had taken the bet. However, if you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They're having all kinds of problems, just like everybody else." Ehrlich wrote in ''The Population Bomb'' that, "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980." Carl Haub of the
Population Reference BureauThe Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is a private, nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
has replied that it was precisely the alarmist rhetoric that prevented the catastrophes of which Ehrlich warned. According to Haub, "It makes no sense that Ehrlich is now criticized as being alarmist because his dire warnings did not, in the main, come true. But it was because of such warnings from Ehrlich and others that countries took action to avoid potential disaster." During the 1960s and 70s when Ehrlich made his most alarming warnings, there was a widespread belief among experts that population growth presented an extremely serious threat to the future of human civilization, although differences existed regarding the severity of the situation, and how to decrease it. Dan Gardner argues that Ehrlich has been insufficiently forthright in acknowledging errors he made, while being intellectually dishonest or evasive in taking credit for things he claims he got "right". For example, he rarely acknowledges the mistakes he made in predicting material shortages, massive death tolls from starvation (as many as one billion in the publication ''Age of Affluence'') or regarding the disastrous effects on specific countries. Meanwhile, he is happy to claim credit for "predicting" the increase of
AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of ...
or global warming. However, in the case of disease, Ehrlich had predicted the increase of a disease based on overcrowding, or the weakened immune systems of starving people, so it is "a stretch to see this as forecasting the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s." Similarly, global warming was one of the scenarios that Ehrlich described, so claiming credit for it, while disavowing responsibility for failed scenarios is a
double standard A double standard is the application of different sets of principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of pol ...
. Gardner believes that Ehrlich is displaying classical signs of
cognitive dissonance In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information. Relevant items of information include a person's actions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, Value (ethics), values, and things in the environment. Cognitive d ...

cognitive dissonance
, and that his failure to acknowledge obvious errors of his own judgement render his current thinking suspect.
Barry Commoner Barry Commoner (May 28, 1917 – September 30, 2012) was an American cell biology, cellular biologist, college professor, and politician. He was a leading ecologist and among the founders of the modern environmental movement. He was the dire ...
has criticized Ehrlich's 1970 statement that "When you reach a point where you realize further efforts will be futile, you may as well look after yourself and your friends and enjoy what little time you have left. That point for me is 1972." Gardner has criticized Ehrlich for endorsing the strategies proposed by William and Paul Paddock in their book '' Famine 1975!''. They had proposed a system of "triage" that would end food aid to "hopeless" countries such as India and Egypt. In ''Population Bomb'', Ehrlich suggests that "there is no rational choice except to adopt some form of the Paddocks' strategy as far as food distribution is concerned." Had this strategy been implemented for countries such as India and Egypt, which were reliant on food aid at that time, they would almost certainly have suffered famines. Instead, both Egypt and India have greatly increased their food production and now feed much larger populations without reliance on food aid.


Left-wing critics

Another group of critics, generally of the
political left Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. ...
, argues that Ehrlich emphasizes overpopulation too much as a problem in itself instead of distribution of resources.
Barry Commoner Barry Commoner (May 28, 1917 – September 30, 2012) was an American cell biology, cellular biologist, college professor, and politician. He was a leading ecologist and among the founders of the modern environmental movement. He was the dire ...
argued that Ehrlich emphasized overpopulation too much as the source of environmental problems, and that his proposed solutions were politically unacceptable because of the coercion that they implied, and because they would cost poor people disproportionately. He argued that technological, and above all social development would result in a natural decrease of both population growth and environmental damage. Ehrlich denies any type of racism, and has argued that if his policy ideas were implemented properly they would not be repressive. In a 2018 interview with ''The Guardian'', Ehrlich, while still proud of ''The Population Bomb'' for starting a worldwide debate on the issues of population, acknowledged weaknesses of the book including not placing enough emphasis on
overconsumption Overconsumption describes a situation where the use of a natural resource has exceeded the Sustainable yield, sustainable capacity of a system. A prolonged pattern of overconsumption leads to the eventual loss of resource bases. The term overconsu ...
and
inequality Inequality may refer to: Economics * Attention inequality Attention inequality is a term used to target the inequality of distribution of attention across users on social networks, people in general, and for scientific papers. Yun Family Foundat ...
, and countering accusations of racism. He argues "too many rich people in the world is a major threat to the human future, and cultural and genetic diversity are great human resources." He advocated for an "unprecedented redistribution of wealth" in order to mitigate the problem of overconsumption of resources by the world's wealthy, but said "the rich who now run the global system — that hold the annual 'world destroyer' meetings in Davos — are unlikely to let it happen."


Simon–Ehrlich wager

Julian Simon Julian Lincoln Simon (February 12, 1932 – February 8, 1998) was an American professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an Academy, academic rank at university, universities and other post-secondary education and research ins ...
, a
cornucopianA cornucopian is a futurist Futurists are people whose specialty or interest is futurology Futures studies, futures research or futurology is the systematic, interdisciplinary and holistic study of social and technological advancement, and oth ...
economist An economist is a professional and practitioner in the social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the s ...

economist
, argued that overpopulation is not a problem as such and that humanity will adapt to changing conditions. Simon argued that eventually human creativity will improve living standards, and that most resources were replaceable. Simon stated that over hundreds of years, the prices of virtually all commodities have decreased significantly and persistently. Ehrlich termed Simon the proponent of a "space-age cargo cult" of economists convinced that human creativity and ingenuity would create substitutes for scarce resources and reasserted the idea that population growth was outstripping the earth's supplies of food, fresh water and minerals. This exchange resulted in the
Simon–Ehrlich wagerThe Simon–Ehrlich wager was a 1980 scientific wager between business professor Julian Lincoln Simon, Julian L. Simon and biologist Paul R. Ehrlich, Paul Ehrlich, betting on a mutually agreed-upon measure of Natural resource, resource scarcity over ...
, a bet about the trend of prices for resources during a ten-year period that was made with Simon in 1980. Ehrlich was allowed to choose ten commodities that he predicted would become scarce and thus increase in price. Ehrlich chose mostly metals, and lost the bet, as their average price decreased by about 30% in the next 10 years. Simon and Ehrlich could not agree about the terms of a second bet.


Ehrlich's response to critics

Ehrlich has argued that humanity has simply deferred the disaster by the use of more intensive agricultural techniques, such as those introduced during the
Green Revolution The Green Revolution, or the Third Agricultural Revolution (after the Neolithic Revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human culture Culture () is an umbrel ...

Green Revolution
. Ehrlich claims that increasing populations and affluence are increasingly stressing the global environment, due to such factors as
loss of biodiversity Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity. The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on w ...
,
overfishing Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, an ...
,
global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...

global warming
,
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
, chemical pollution and competition for raw materials. He maintains that due to growing global incomes, reducing consumption and human population is critical to protecting the environment and maintaining living standards, and that current rates of growth are still too great for a sustainable future.


Other activities

Ehrlich was one of the initiators of the group
Zero Population Growth 0 (zero) is a number, and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numeral system, numerals. It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As ...
(renamed Population Connection) in 1968, along with Richard Bowers and
Charles Lee Remington Charles Lee Remington (January 19, 1922 – May 31, 2007) was an American entomologist upright=1.2, A Phyllium sp., mimicking a leaf Entomology () is the scientific study of insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is ...
. In 1971, Ehrlich was elected to the
Common Cause Common Cause is a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., with chapters in 35 states. It was founded in 1970 by John W. Gardner, a Republican, who was the former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the administration of President ...
National Governing Board. He and his wife Anne were part of the board of advisers of the
Federation for American Immigration Reform The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a non profit, anti-immigration organization in the United States. The group publishes position papers, organizes events, and runs campaigns in order to advocate for changes in Immigration ...
until 2003. He is currently a patron of
Population Matters Population Matters, formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust, is a UK-based charity that addresses population size and its effects on environmental sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing wa ...
, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust). Consistent with his concern about the impact of pollution and in response to a doctoral dissertation by his student Edward Goth III, Ehrlich wrote in 1977 that, "Fluorides have been shown to concentrate in food chains, and evidence suggesting a potential for significant ecological effects is accumulating." Ehrlich has spoken at conferences in Israel on the issue of
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
. He has argued "true Zionists should have small families".


Personal life

Ehrlich has been married to Anne H. Ehrlich (née Howland) since December 1954; they have one daughter, Lisa Marie. Ehrlich said that he has had a
vasectomy Vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male Sterilization (medicine), sterilization or permanent contraception. During the procedure, the male vas deferens, vasa deferentia are cut and tied or sealed so as to prevent sperm from entering into the ure ...

vasectomy
.


Awards and honors

* The John Muir Award of the
Sierra Club The Sierra Club is an environmental organization An environmental organization is an organization coming out of the Conservation movement, conservation or environmental movements that seeks to protect, analyse or monitor the environment against m ...
* The Gold Medal Award of the
World Wildlife Fund In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the worl ...
International * A
MacArthur Prize Fellowship The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly but unofficially known as the "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the MacArthur Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to be ...
* The
Crafoord Prize The Crafoord Prize is an annual science prize established in 1980 by Holger Crafoord, a Swedish industrialist, and his wife Anna-Greta Crafoord. The Prize is awarded in partnership between the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Royal Swedish A ...
, awarded by the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences ( Swedish: ''Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien'') is one of the royal academies of Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic co ...
and considered the highest award given in the field of ecology * ECI Prize winner in terrestrial ecology, 1993 * A World Ecology Award from the International Center for Tropical Ecology,
University of Missouri The University of Missouri (Mizzou, MU, or Missouri) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or ...

University of Missouri
, 1993 * The Volvo Environmental Prize, 1993 * The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
Sasakawa Environment Prize, 1994 * The 1st Annual
Heinz Award The Heinz Awards are individual achievement honors given annually by the Heinz Family Foundation. The Heinz Awards each year recognize outstanding individuals for their innovative contributions in five areas: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Huma ...
in the Environment (with Anne Ehrlich), 1995 * The
Tyler Prize for Environmental AchievementThe Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is an annual award for environmental science Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical, biological and information science Information science (also ...
, 1998 * The Dr. A. H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences, 1998 * The
Blue Planet Prize The recognises outstanding efforts in scientific research or applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems. The prize was created by the Asahi Glass Foundation in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit The ...
, 1999 * The Eminent Ecologist Award of the
Ecological Society of America The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a professional organization of ecology, ecological scientists. Based in the United States and founded in 1915, ESA publications include peer-reviewed journals, newsletters, fact sheets, and teaching resou ...
, 2001 * The Distinguished Scientist Award of the
American Institute of Biological Sciences The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a col ...
, 2001 *
Ramon Margalef Prize in EcologyThe Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology ( ca, Premi Ramon Margalef d'Ecologia) is a prize awarded annually to recognize an exceptional scientific career or discovery in the field of ecology or other environmental science. The award was created to honor t ...
of the Generalitat of Catalonia, 2009 * Fellow of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
of London 2012 * 2013
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge AwardThe BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, ''Premios Fundación BBVA Fronteras del Conocimiento'', in Spanish, are an international award programme recognizing significant contributions in the areas of scientific research and cultural creatio ...
in Ecology and Conservation Biology


Works


Books

* ''How to Know the Butterflies'' (1960) * ''Process of Evolution'' (1963) * ''Butterflies and Plants: A Study in Coevolution'' (1964) * ''
The Population Bomb ''The Population Bomb'' is a 1968 book written by Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among ...
'' (1968, revised 1971, updated 1978, re-issued 1988, 1998, 2008 and 2018) * ''Population, Resources, Environments: Issues in Human Ecology'' (1970) * ''How to Be a Survivor'' (1971) * ''Man and the Ecosphere: Readings from Scientific American'' (1971) * ''Population, Resources, Environments: Issues in Human Ecology Second Edition'' (1972) * ''Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions'' (1973) * ''Introductory Biology'' (1973) * ''The End of Affluence'' (1975) * ''Biology and Society'' (1976) * ''Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment'' (1978) * ''The Race Bomb'' (1978) * ''Extinction'' (1981) * ''The Golden Door: International Migration, Mexico, and the United States'' (1981) * '' The Cold and the Dark: The World after Nuclear War'' (1984, with Carl Sagan, Donald Kennedy, and Walter Orr Roberts) * ''The Machinery of Nature: The Living World Around Us and How it Works'' (1986) * ''Earth'' (1987, co-authored with Anne Ehrlich) * ''Science of Ecology'' (1987, with Joan Roughgarden) * ''The Cassandra Conference: Resources and the Human Predicament'' (1988) * ''The Birder's Handbook: A field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds'' (1988, with David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye) * ''New World, New Mind: Moving Towards Conscious Evolution'' (1988, co-authored with Robert E. Ornstein) * ''The Population Explosion'' (1990, with Anne Ehrlich) * ''Healing the Planet: Strategies for Resolving the Environmental Crisis'' (1991, co-authored with Anne Ehrlich) * ''Birds in Jeopardy: The Imperiled and Extinct Birds of the United States and Canada, Including Hawaii and Puerto Rico'' (1992, with David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye) * ''The Stork and the Plow : The Equity Answer to the Human Dilemma'' (1995, with Anne Ehrlich and Gretchen C. Daily) * ''A World of Wounds: Ecologists and the Human Dilemma'' (1997) * ''Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environment Rhetoric Threatens Our Future'' (1998, with Anne Ehrlich) * '' Wild Solutions, Wild Solutions: How Biodiversity is Money in the Bank'' (2001, with Andrew Beattie) * ''Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect'' (2002) * ''One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future'' (2004, with Anne Ehrlich) * ''On the Wings of Checkerspots: A Model System for Population Biology'' (2004, edited volume, co-edited with Ilkka Hanski) * ''The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment'' (2008, with Anne Ehrlich) * ''Humanity on a Tightrope: Thoughts on Empathy, Family, and Big Changes for a Viable Future'' (2010, with Robert E. Ornstein) * ''Conservation Biology for All'' (2010, edited volume, co-edited with Navjot S. Sodhi) * ''Hope on Earth: A Conversation'' (2014, co-authored with Michael Tobias, Michael Charles Tobias) * ''Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie: Australia, America and the Environment'' (2015, co-authored with Corey J. A. Bradshaw) * ''The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals'' (2015, with Anne Ehrlich and Gerardo Ceballos)


Papers

* * *


See also

* Demography * Passenger pigeon * Population Connection * Malthusianism * Netherlands fallacy * Escape and radiate coevolution


Notes


References


Cited books

*


Further reading

* Robertson, Thomas. (2012) ''The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism'', Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, New Jersey. .


External links


Paul R. Ehrlich Papers




* * [http://www.docstoc.com/docs/12166078/Population-Bomb-Revisited "The Population Bomb Revisited"], ''Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development'', 2009
Several online Paul Ehrlich interviews


from ''Mother Earth News''
Paul R. Ehrlich and the prophets of doom
A look at Ehrlich's treatment of exponential growth.
Paul Ehrlich, a prophet of global population doom who is gloomier than ever
''The Guardian.'' October 2011. {{DEFAULTSORT:Ehrlich, Paul R. 1932 births American ecologists American environmentalists American entomologists American non-fiction environmental writers Jewish American scientists Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Foreign Members of the Royal Society Green thinkers Living people MacArthur Fellows Members of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences Stanford University Department of Biology faculty Sustainability advocates University of Kansas alumni University of Pennsylvania alumni 20th-century American writers 21st-century American non-fiction writers Winners of the Heineken Prize Winners of the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology Activists from California Sierra Club awardees Fellows of the Ecological Society of America Columbia High School (New Jersey) alumni People from Maplewood, New Jersey Conservation biologists 21st-century American Jews