"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun."- Paul Ehrlich

Ehrlich was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. His father was a salesman and his mother was a teacher. He went to the University of Pennsylvania and earned a degree in zoology. He also completed a masters and Ph. Degree in University of Kansas; where he was supervised by the important bee researcher C.D Michener while he was doing his Ph.D. His fields are population studies and entomology.

While he was studying, he participated in surveys in the Bearing Sea and the Canadian Arctic and with collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, he investigated the genetics and behavior of parasitic mites.

In 1966 he was promoted at Stanford to be a professor of Biology. He was named to the Bing Professorship in 1977 and he is now president of the Center for Conservation Biology at this same University.

He is still performing policy investigations concerning population and resource issues highlighting specially endangered species, cultural evolution, environmental ethics and preservation of genetic resources. His research group in Stanford looks extensively into natural populations of the Bay checkerspot butterfly.


Ehrlich retook Malthus’ idea that eventually the number of population would surpass food production. He reignited the issue by publishing a book called The Population Bomb in 1968 which had as a central argument the idea that Earth’s capacity to provide resources for a population which is growing exponentially is finite. The book was successful in getting overpopulation to be taken into account by the public and government as an important issue. Ehrlich was wrong in some of his predictions in the book, like predicting a worldwide famine in 1970.
Although Ehrlich’s theory has been criticized for being melodramatic and apocalyptic, he argues that his pessimism is tied to the human failure to do anything about the problems or event talk about them.

Seven billion of us: Paul Ehrlich speaks to SBS

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"The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer." Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb, 1968.