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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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