The Bomb That Never Detonated
On the 1970s, Paul Ehrlich, overpopulation, and why poverty is mostly caused by bad ideas and lack of virtue, not lack of resources.
James V. Schall, S.J.
January 16, 2017
Back in the early 1970s, in the heyday of unceasing rancor over Humanae Vitae, a great number of books were published that prophesied disaster for the human race. Among the most famous was Paul Ehrlich’s widely read The Population Bomb. At that time, we were given various apocalyptic scenarios about the end of things caused by our own uncontrolled breeding. We were soon to starve to death. The world, then with a population of around three billion, was running out of food, clothing, gas, and just about everything else. Things could only get worse. Resources were “limited”; no more new ones were imaginable. The Catholic Church was often singled out as contributing to this approaching demise of the human race since she taught that the world was made for man. Her weird stance on human breeding was “irrational”. Her views on marriage and children were said to go against the principles of, you guessed it, “modern science”.