Fred Pearce is one of those credible, popular science and environmental writers who needs to be read and this book tackles the population issue from a different angle. This angle is one that needs to be considered.
We have become so used to Paul Erlich’s “Population Bomb” thesis that we rarely read or consider anything else. Pearce takes a different view. He argues that we are facing a “baby famine” that will permanently alter global population demographics. He says that half the world’s women are having too few babies to sustain present populations.
The book is split into seven parts. Part one – Malthusian Nightmares, discusses Malthus’ dire warnings and the path of thinking that this established. Part two – Rise of the Population Controllers, describes the population explosion warnings and the global campaigns that tried to prevent the poor from breeding. Part three – Implosion, talks about the falling fertility rates and rising death rates in Europe. Part four – The Reproductive Revolution, discusses the move away from large families and the greater control over birth and death resulting in longer lives. Part five – Migrants, describes the new phenomena of transnational citizens and the effect this has upon lives and populations. Part six – Reaching the Limits, takes a hard look at global capacities and resource limits with regard to population; and Part seven – Older, Wiser, Greener, discusses the effects of a global population that may soon consist of more over 50’s than any other age grouping.
One of the facts that Pearce highlights is that we are living longer, healthier more productive lives. He sees this in two ways. He writes,”…The extension of the working and contributing lives of Society’s most qualified, most experienced individuals is potentially a huge new demographic resource. Like the youth bulge before it, the silver bulge can be seen as either a threat or a promise. Fear it and our societies will flounder, harness it and the prospects are endless…”
This thought-provoking book should be read by everyone who has a concern for people and the environment. It prompts ideas and answers to problems at all levels and is a trigger for alternate and lateral thinking and ideas. Thoroughly recommended.