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Overpopulation An Introduction to the Issues In the late 1960s and early 1970s some environmentalists began making a sensational claim The worlds ever increasing population they claimed would soon outstrip the planets limited resources leading to an environmental cataclysm of horrific proportions In these doom and gloom scenarios a massive worldwide famine was just around the corner The number of people would keep increasing while the amount of available food would stay the same or even decline The inevitable result the experts argued was famine by the early 1980s at the latest The only way to lessen the severity of the impending disaster was to adopt strict policies to control population The proposed methods of controlling population growth ranged from the sensible to the downright bizarre From increasing educational opportunities and family planning resources for women to military occupation of perennial problem areas in the Third World to mandatory sterilization of people who already had more than a couple children the proposed solutions to the population problem ran the gamut In all these proposals however the underlying theme was that if moderate means failed to control population extreme measures would have to be resorted to Many population advocates agreed in spirit with Paul Ehrlichs claim that human populations were spreading like a cancer across the globe and of course sometimes its necessary to take drastic action against cancer for the greater good of the body as a whole There are two things that can be said with certainty about the period from the late 1960s to today None of the proposals from the population advocates was ever fully implemented and yet the world didnt fall apart Certainly Ehrlich and others were right about one thing world population exploded in the 1970s But so did food production so that by the 1990s the percentage of people suffering from malnutrition declined substantially In fact the number of people
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