Eden Project Books £8.99
Peoplequake, By Fred Pearce
Good news for the 22nd century
Sunday 20 February 2011
Population growth is sometimes spoken of as the elephant in the room – a problem that will have huge impact on the environment and the global economy, but which no one dares discuss.
Fred Pearce looks squarely at that elephant and discovers that it's no more than a medium-sized cow. And a shrinking cow at that. He examines Thomas Malthus's "Essay on the Principles of Population", and concludes that Malthus was mistaken on two counts: he underestimated the effects of improved technology in feeding greater numbers, and he failed to see that people were already, even in his day, controlling their fertility, a task made easier by modern-day contraception.
After an excursus about how eugenics was an unsavoury offshoot of Malthus's theory, Pearce explores trends in population growth around the world, highlighting the falling birth rates in China, Australia, South Africa and most of Europe (on present trends, by 2100 Germany will have fewer natives than Berlin has today) and providing evidence that developing countries are following suit. His thesis is that the birth rate declines along with patriarchy (and as acceptance of homosexuality rises, interestingly). World population should peak at around eight billion mid-century, and could be down to five billion by 2100. Good news for our great-grandchildren, whom he says may well occupy a "kinder, gentler, wiser and greener world".
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
A victory for gender equality on the high seas
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove