Picks and Pans Review: The Population Explosion

updated 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich

So many of Mexico City's 20 million people live without sanitary facilities that a "fecal snow" often falls over the city as winds pick up dried excrement. Paul Ehrlich had warned of such dire consequences in his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. Back then there were 3.5 billion people in the world; now there are 5.3 billion.

Environmentalists often skirt the politically charged issue of population control, but as the Ehrlichs point out (again), the Earth can't sustain an infinitely increasing demand for goods, food and services. Besides global warming and acid rain, groundwater levels are plummeting; top-soil is eroding five times faster than it is replaced; deforestation and desertification are on the march.

The population explosion will end eventually; whether that occurs voluntarily, by coercion or from Malthusian forces of war, famine and disease is our choice. (Simon and Schuster, $18.95)

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