Created: 1995. Updated: 21 June, 2002


Books on Overpopulation

EcoFuture ™

Books on: Population | Sustainability | U.S. | Economics | Children | Fiction | Misc
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  • A Bicentennial Malthusian Essay, John F. Rohe; Rhodes & Easton, Traverse City, MI 49684, ISBN 1-890394-00-9, (192p, $19). Also available from Malthus suggested there might be an inverse relationship between the quantity and the quality of human life. Approximately one billion people now go to bed hungry every night. Rohe revisits principles found controversial in 1798 in identifying a root cause of our unrest.
  • A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, Clive Pointing; St. Martins Press, ISBN 0-312-06987-1 (432p, $24), Penguin USA (Paper) ISBN: 0-140-17660-8 ($15), (EGJ review).
  • An Essay on Principle of Population, Thomas Robert Malthus; Prometheus, ISBN 1573922552 (paperback), ($9). The original 1798 essay on population.
  • Excellent Beyond Malthus: Nineteen Dimensions of the Population Challenge, Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, and Brian Halweil; W.W. Norton, 1999, Worldwatch Institute, ISBN 0393319067, ($13). Also available from Examines the stakes involved in potentially adding another 3.3 billion people to the world population over the next fifty years.
  • Beyond Malthus: Population and Power, Neil W. Chamberlain; (out of print), (1970).
  • Beyond Malthus: Sixteen Dimensions of the Population Problem, 1998, Worldwatch Institute ($5). An excellent and easily-read introductory paperback.
  • Excellent Beyond the Limits, Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future, Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers; 1992, Chelsea Green, ISBN 0-930031-55-5 (hard cover) (300p, $19.95), ISBN 0930031628(paperback) ($15), (EGJ review). The authors contend that the global industrial system has already overshot some of the earth's vital ecological limits, and could collapse by the mid-21st century unless we commit to sweeping changes now. The first two chapters present an excellent discussion on exponential growth.
  • Cheerfully Childless - The Humor Book for Those Who Hesitate to Procreate, Eller Metter & Loretta Gomez; Baker & Taylor and Quality Books, 2002, ISBN 0-9711627-0-0
  • Curbing Population Growth, An Insider's Perspective on the Population Movement, Oscar Harkavy; Plenum Press, 1995, ISBN 0-306-45050-X, (249p). An excellent reference book, describing the history of population-oriented organizations and their funders.
  • Dynamics of Values in Fertility Change, Richard Leete (Ed.); Oxford Univ Press, 1999, ISBN 0198294395, (360p, $85).
  • Earth: Our Crowded Spaceship, Isaac Asimov, (out of print).
  • Excellent Ending the Explosion: Population Policies and Ethics for a Humane Future, W. Hollingsworth; 1996, Seven Locks Press, 800.354.5348, ISBN 0-929-765-42-7, ($17.95), (review). Also available from Unlike most books, it rightly sees overpopulation as a threat to the human spirit as well as to our physical well-being.
  • Extinction or Survival, M.J. Turner; 1996, Ardmore Publishing, 875 Ardmore Dr., RR2, Sidney BC, Canada, V8L 5G2, ISBN 0-9680850-0-8, ($24.95). Carefully researched, this book deals with the real problems of overpopulation and the resulting excessive environmental exploitation, showing how the carrying capacity of Planet Earth is being seriously eroded.
  • How Does Congress Approach Population and Family Planning Issues: Results of Qualitative Interviews with Legislative Directors, Sally Patterson, David M. Adamson; Rand Corporation, 1999, ISBN 0833027042, (49p, $8). Congressional opinions on population issues are highly polarized. About 90% of Congress consistently votes either for or against population-related legislation. Thus the remaining 10 percent is likely to determine the fate of such issues. Researchers interviewed a sample of legislative directors in this category. Most felt that the U.S. should continue to play a leading role internationally, but several noted that their bosses favor more multilateral approaches. A majority felt that world population growth is a problem but is not urgent. Nearly unanimous support was expressed for U.S. support of voluntary family planning if it excludes abortion. Congress would benefit from more factual information on population issues.
  • Intended Consequences : Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America, Donald T. Critchlow; Oxford Univ Press, 1999, ISBN 0195046579, (320p, $9). Contains 13 essays by well-known feminist scholars and activists on the major global issues relevant to the environment, development, and population. The authors discuss issues of racism, paternalism, and scapegoating. Also discussed are reproductive technology, the impact of population growth on the environment, effects of militarism and consumption, and social justice movements.
  • Excellent How Many People Can the World Support?, Joel E. Cohen; Norton, New York, 1995, ISBN 0393314952, ($13). A well-documented and referenced book on the history of human population growth, and past and current attempt to project human carrying capacity of the planet. A definitive work on the population problem.
  • Excellent Juggernaut, Growth on a Finite Planet, Lindsey Grant; 1996, Seven Locks Press, ISBN 0-929765-51-6 (paperback) (363p). An informative and fascinating book which compellingly presents the social, political, and economic implications of continued population growth. One of the best synopsis of the population problem.
  • Excellent Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, Garrett Hardin. Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-507811-X. (339p, $25), (EGJ review). Wonderfully rich in clear logic, original ideas and insights.
  • Malthusian Worlds: Us Leadership and the Governing of the Population Crisis, Ronald Walter Greene; Harpercollins, 1999, ISBN 0813390737, ($65).
  • Maybe One : A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families, Bill McKibben; Simon & Schuster, 1998, ISBN 0684852810, (256p, $17). The growing population of the U.S. is a significant threat to world sustainability because of high U.S. consumption levels. McKibben discusses the concept of having only one child, on a personal level and from the perspective of impact on the ecosphere.
  • Our Crowded Planet, Fairfield Osborn; Greenwood Publishing Group, 1983, ISBN 0313226393, (240p, $60). A splendid document of contemporary civilization not because it solves the problem of overpopulation but because it brings into focus the immediacy of the problem as an individual, national, and international concern. This book includes essays by major figures in the arts and sciences, including Marston Bates, Henry Steele Commager, F. Fraser Darling, Charles G. Darwin (grandson of The Origin of Species Darwin), Julian Huxley, Joseph Wood Krutch, Arnold Toynbee, Solly Zuckerman, and Paul B. Sears.
  • Our Plundered Planet, Fairfield Osborn; Little Brown, 1948, (out of print). The author calculates Earth's carrying capacity at less than 2 billion (p. 37). An early warning on the population/resource/environment crisis. This book focused on renewable resources but added overpopulation to the equation. Osborn saw the nation's forests, grasslands, and water resources as threatened. "The tide of the earth's population is rising, the reservoir of the earth's living resources is falling," the author wrote. "There is only one solution: Man must recognize the necessity of cooperating with nature." Fairfield Osborn was a distinguished author, naturalist, and conservationist. He was president of the New York Zoological Society and chairman of the Conservation Foundation.
  • Excellent Overshoot, The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, William R. Catton, Jr.; University of Illinois Press, 1980, ISBN 0-252-00818-9 (hard cover), (270p, $30), ISBN 0-252-00988-6 (paperback). An important book - well written with a rich bibliography.
  • Planetary Overload: Global Environmental Change and the Health of the Human Species, A. McMichael; Cambridge Univ. Press,1993, ISBN 0521558719 ($12). This eloquent and alarming book examines the likely impact on human health of the ongoing degradation of the planet's ecosystems.
  • Population and Politics Since 1750, William H. McNeill, University Press of Virginia, 1990, ISBN 0-8139-1257-1, (71p). In this brief discussion, the author ponders the question: is demography the engine that drives history?
  • Population, Environment and Development: Proceedings of the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Population, Environment and Development, U.N., United Nations Publications, 1994, ISBN 9211512654, ($30). Reports on the Expert Group meeting in 1992, recommending integrating environmental and population issues into planning and policy making.
  • Population, Evolution, and Birth Control, A Collage of Controversial Ideas, Ed. Garret Hardin; W.H. Freeman, 1964, ISBN 0716706709, (381p). An engrossing collection of articles, reviews, and criticisms reflecting all shades of opinion on what is perhaps the most important social problem facing mankind.
  • Population Fallacies, Jack Parsons; Elek/Pemberton, London, 1977, ISBN 0301740313 (286p, out of print), (review). Under the three basic categories of Common Sense, Scientific, and Economic Fallacies, the discussion ranges over such topics as the use of statistics, foretelling the future, military power, migration, manpower, economic development, space travel, the myth of the large happy family and the limits to growth. Each fallacy is clearly stated, solidly documented, thoroughly analyzed and finally dismissed.
  • Population Geography: Problems, Concepts, and Prospects, Gary L. Peters, Robert P. Larkin; Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0787256722, ($47). This textbook is an introduction to population geography, and covers theories of population growth, demographic data and processes, population distribution and composition, and the environment and food supply. Tables, maps, and data are provided.
  • Population Growth, Resource Consumption, and the Environment: Seeking a Common Vision for a Troubled World, D. Richard Searle, Rick Searle; Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995, ISBN 1550580647, ($14).
  • Population Handbook - A Quick Guide for Journalists, Teachers, etc., 70-page booklet, ISBN 0-917136-09-8. It contains definitions and features "Calculating the TFR", "How Life TablesWork", etc.
  • Population, A Lively Introduction, McFalls; Population Reference Bureau, 1991, ISBN 9992437618, ($9).
  • Excellent Population: an Introduction to Concepts and Issues, John R. Weeks; Wadsworth, 1992, ISBN 0534553052 (hardcover) ISBN 0-534-17346-2. (579p, $88.00), (EGJ review). A college textbook and a good introduction to population issues, including terms and definitions.
  • Population and Environment: a Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Human Sciences Press, 212.620.8000. This journal deals with both issues in a comprehensive and integrated manner.
  • Population and the World Bank: Adapting to Change, World Bank, 1999, ISBN 0821344404, ($22), (abstract). The global demographic situation has changed dramatically since the World Bank started population work three decades ago. This publication discusses how to apply the Bank's Health, Nutrition, and Population (HNP) Sector Strategy of 1997 to the Bank's work on population and reproductive health.
  • Population Politics: the Choices that Shape our Future, Virginia Abernethy; 1993, Plenum Publishing, ISBN 0-306-44461-5, (350p, $27). Also available from (Review, titled Why Do Women Have Babies, Robert A. McConnell). A provocative book that raises disturbing questions about demographic and immigration policies and their implications for the future of the world. A splendid critique of how U.S. foreign aid and liberal immigration policy result in population growth in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Population, Resources and the Environment: The Critical Challenges, United Nations Population Fund, 1991, ISBN 0-89714-101-6. (154p, $25), (EGJ review).
  • Road to Survival, William Vogt; Sloane, 1948, (review). Another of the classic "early warnings," like Osborn's book, but much starker - in Vogt's view, the United States in 1948 at 147 million was already overpopulated, and its self-indulgent materialism doomed it to eventual extinction.

  • The American Dream: Can It Survive the 21st Century? , Joseph L. Daleiden; Prometheus Books, 1999, ISBN 157392265X. (550 p., $25). An ambitious and comprehensive book, offering well though-out solutions to complex problems. Ed Levy states in a review that: "Daleiden's basic message, then, is that today's acts are destroying tomorrow, and that we are stealing, not just borrowing, from the future and that we must accept the possibility of disasters if we are to prevent them. ...An additional value of the book is the validity of its arguments: e.g., the deft debunking of the 'demographic transition' theory (with the addition that even if it were true, it would be too late, because of doubling time, to matter when it kicked in)."
  • The Challenge of Man's Future, Harrison Scott Brown; Viking, 1953, ISBN 0813300339. A classic early warning on impending population and resource problems.
  • The Fear of Population Decline, Micheal S. Teitelbaum; ISBN 0126851905, (out of print).
  • The Future of Population: Predictions, John I. Clarke; Orion, 1999, ISBN 0297819232, ($4).
  • The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia, Garrett Hardin; Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-19-512274-7, (153p, $16). (excerpts and review). With clear logic and imaginative insight, Garret Hardin has again given us a strong helping hand in the unending task of overcoming denial of the tough issues in population, economics, and ethics.
  • The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich; ISBN 0891908617, ($22). (PBS review), (excerpts). This book looks at the ideas of one scientist whose theories link overpopulation to a broad range of global problems (somewhat outdated - instead see The Population Explosion below).
  • Excellent The Population Explosion, Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich; Simon and Schuster, 1990, ISBN 0-671-68984-3. (320p, $19), (EGJ review additional review), and (excerpts). A classic work, this superb, closely reasoned, and fact-filled book should do much to clear the way for badly needed political action.
  • The Stork and the Plow, Paul and Anne Ehrlich; Putnam, 1995, ISBN 0-399-14074-3, (384p, $15), (excerpts). Humanity and agricultural fertility are on a collision course; the stork is threatening to overtake the plow. Yet the very existence of this dilemma is largely unappreciated by the general public as well as politically- and ecologically-oriented pundits.
  • The Third Revolution: Environment, Population and a Sustainable World, Paul Harrison, I.B. Tauris; in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature, Penguin, 1993, ISBN 0140146598. (359 p, $12.00). An excellent introduction; (EGJ review).
  • Excellent World Population, Leon F. Bouvier, Jane T. Bertrand; Seven Locks Press, 1999, ISBN: 0929765664, (203 p, $13).
    "Readable, insightful, scholarly, and objective. Whatever your view on population growth, few disagree that it presents the future with some major challenges. An important book about a fast developing, worldwide problem." -- Richard D. Lamm.
    "Bouvier and Bertrand's new book offers a measured and informed appraisal - for those who would prefer to actually understand." -- Michael S. Teitelbaum.
  • Excellent World Population Growth, George E. Immerwahr; Peanut Butter Publishing, 226 2nd Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119, 206.281.5965, ISBN 0-89716-552-7 (184p, $12). This excellent book explains population growth in clear, concise terms and contains an excellent demographic appendix. The author, a demographer with extensive overseas exposure to the population issue, states that population problems are colossal but not hopeless and is chiefly concerned for the world's children.

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Books on: Population | Sustainability | U.S. | Economics | Children | Fiction | Misc
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Thanks to the many contributors to this bibliography.

Copyright 1995-2003 Fred Elbel. This material may be freely used and distributed only for non-commercial purposes, with credit. Trademarks and copyrighted items remain the property of the owner.