Literature Focus #1: The Population Bomb


One of the questions that has come up is about my backgrounds into the environmental policy field.  Coming from a Business school and focusing in on building marketing skills, it is reasonable to question where my interests in protecting the environment lay.  Like all of us, I have based my roots based off the writings and works of those who best highlight and illustrate the problems our society is causing for our environment.

In my short experience in the collegiate study of our environmental impacts, I have found 2 pieces of literature that have not only seemed to hold resonance throughout the entirety of my college career, but have also followed me through my personal career path.  While different in wordplay and angles in covering the issue of our carbon footprint to the environment, both pieces of work have played a huge role in my understanding of how humans vastly impact the environment due to sheer population totals.

“Population Bomb”- Paul Ehrlich’s most famous piece work has not only resonated with the scientific and academic communities, but has also resonated with me in my journey throughout school.  The piece was written in 1968, and warned of the devastating consequences that overpopulation on a global level would bring to the environment.   While the book was full of bold predictions made by Ehrlich about what would happen with a growing population rate (many which fell short), many of his ideas and proclamations have been proven true in the 21st century, making the piece relevant to many, and even caused Ehrlich himself to release a short essay called “Population Bomb Revisited”.  While some of the text offers some rather morbid truths and solutions to the issue of overpopulation (mainly thinking about the death rate concept, and how he claims it must increase), he actually underestimated the world population by 2000.

bombbb graphic

This book was the first piece of text that widely engaged large amounts of academic and non-academic readers about the horrors of overpopulation, and is still commonly harped on today.  My first introduction to the Population Bomb came in my sophomore year of college, and has still found ways to intertwine into my life.  Later down the college career I was given an opportunity to intern at Vermonters For a Sustainable Population, an organization fixated on highlighting the issues and consequences of overpopulation not only in Vermont, but around the world.

To get this job, I has to display a level of familiarity and comfort about the issue of overpopulation even before I got there on the first day.  I can still remember specific excerpts from my interview, none being more relevant than when I was asked how I was introduced to the subject.  After giving a typical “I learned it in school” response and fumbling around for a more professional answer, I was able to get across that I had read Ehrlich’s population bomb.  While you can’t tell if someone’s eyes are lighting up through a phone, the interviewer’s tone of voice instantly turned positive and optimistic, and we soon talked about the book in detail.

And while my knowledge of the book may have landed me the internship in a very suitable field for me, this was not the end of my story with Ehrlich..  One of my tasks with Vermonters For a Sustainable Population was making a twitter page, and nearing the duration of my summer internship I had created a twitter page that had a strong amount of followers.  Even though I was proud of my work (and for creating my first ever twitter page), I was not prepared to have Paul Ehrlich’s personal twitter follow the page that I had created for VSP!  And whereas the piece of writing has not been present in my life this year, it’s hard to forget a piece of work that paved the way for my environmental policy career and helped remind me that it is possible to incorporate my marketing background into something I am truly passionate about.


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