THE STORK AND THE PLOW: The Equity Answer to the Human Dilemma by Paul R. & Anne H. Ehrlich & Gretchen Daily Ehrlich

THE STORK AND THE PLOW: The Equity Answer to the Human Dilemma

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The Ehrlichs, older and less doctrinaire than in their Population Explosion (1990) days, are guardedly hopeful that resources (the plow) can sustain population gains (the stork) in the century ahead. The emphasis is on guardedly, given a large number of ""ifs""--relating to the vagaries of nature, weather, disease, and other uncontrollables--and the need to establish equity: society's willingness and ability to give a little (or a lot) to get a lot. That means that rich countries should give up their wasteful ways and see that the world's poor and rural populations can buy food or sustain themselves through wiser use of land and sea, and that all people control their fertility. But it's not simply a matter of ""passing out condoms and pouring on fertilizers."" And it is the recognition of the multiple interacting variables and cultural contexts that makes this volume less a jeremiad and more a learning exercise. The Ehrlichs, with their prot‚g‚e Daily, trot out numerous examples of where agricultural reforms and population controls have worked and where they have not; in both instances a major factor (as well as an example of needed equity) is the education of women. The authors are also good at demolishing slogans: Forget the idea that development shrinks fertility and the cynicism that says people can't change their behavior. Listen to local lore on pest control and crop diversity; encourage genetic research to find new strains to increase crop yields; alter the thinking that has led to mono-culture cash crops for export while impoverishing those at home. To be sure, there is a lot of idealism: We should cut our kilowatts; disparage Vatican rule; go for bikes instead of cars. But the situation is not hopeless if enough people put their hearts and minds to it. The Stork and the Plow is a good place to start.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Grosset/Putnam