A book that offers an engaging and sometimes-frightening dose of overpopulation reality.



Tucker argues for the benefits of decreasing Earth’s population in this debut work on sustainability.

Earth has a carrying capacity, according to the author, and it’s less than half the number of human beings that it currently has: “In effect, humanity has been on a century-long binge,” he says, “featuring exponential population growth, continuous growth in industrial output and individual consumption, and the ecological devastation that goes with it.” He argues that the ideal population is 3 billion people—approximately the number that were alive on Earth in the mid-20th century. This may sound like a low number, but Tucker’s method of calculating it sounds quite reasonable. The population is not only growing, but becoming increasingly “middle class,” he asserts, meaning that each person is able to consume more things and generate more waste. Even if the population were to stabilize and humanity found new, hyperefficient ways to recycle its trash, the author argues that we’ve already passed the point of sustainability given the size of the planet and its amount of resources. The author presents and analyzes many different population-sustainability hypotheses and also examines historical trends from humanity’s first 200,000 years, which had relatively minuscule population growth. Tucker then lays out his case for why estimates above 3 billion are, in his opinion, starry-eyed. So what, then, do we do with all the extra people? The author has a long-term plan—and it’s actually much simpler, and less sinister, than one might think. In the second half of the book, the author provides a strategy for getting back to a sustainable civilization—an act that he characterizes not as a retreat or decline but as a chance for a new beginning. This book has a premise that’s likely to alarm the vast majority of readers at first glance, but Tucker executes his argument in a tone that’s calm and even cordial. Although he admits that his target number might be wrong—and encourages others to attempt to raise it, based on the available data—he shows a deep familiarity with the issue of overpopulation and comes to his argument armed with information. Indeed, many readers may find themselves marveling at the complexity of Earth’s resource cycle, as he lays it out. Even those who finish the book unconvinced of the necessity of curbing Earth’s population will get a better understanding of the factors that go into human sustainability—and of how easily they can become imbalanced. In the end, Tucker’s primary theme seems to be that humankind needs to start thinking about its problems in a geographic framework: “Without a shared geographical understanding of our planet, our species, and the civilizations we have created, we will soon find ourselves unable to deal with the unfortunate consequences of ignoring certain realities about our planet.” This is a book that may initially inspire fear, but ideally, it will also be one that engenders discussion.

A book that offers an engaging and sometimes-frightening dose of overpopulation reality.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-51530-4

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Atlas Observatory Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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