Forty years later, Paul Ehrlich still pushing population control

    Noted ecologist and population scientist Paul Ehrlich argues the public’s tunnel vision on environmental problems is leading to important ecological issues being ignored.

    Overpopulation exacerbates and leads to climate change, says the Stanford University professor of population studies, but it’s not getting enough attention.

    “I see the focus on climate change as a problem,” Ehrlich said. “We need to have the focus on climate change. We need to have at least equal focus on four or five other problems.”

    Ehrlich, a Philadelphia native and longtime advocate for population reduction, will speak at the Academy of Natural Sciences Thursday on what humans can do to reverse overpopulation.

    His 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” contained dire warnings for the future — including worldwide famines in the 1970s — that drew harsh criticism by critics when those predictions did not come true.

    But his central message has remained unchanged since then.

    “We certainly know a lot more about what needs to be done than 40 some years ago,” Ehrlich said. “But the basic message, you have to have a sustainable population in the long run, remains the same. It’s been the same for a very long time.”

    He believes increased education for women and reducing economic inequality are key to cutting the population and protecting the environment.

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