In the 1960s, fears of overpopulation sparked talk of population control. So what happened?

In partnership with Pulitzer Center

Population Bomb: The Overpopulation Theory That Fell Flat

Producers: Kit R. Roane and Sarah Weiser
Editor: Jeff Bernier

Not enough babies are being born to support an aging population in some parts of the world. But decades ago, there seemed to be the opposite problem: a prediction about a future with too many people. The concern then was that a population bomb would tip the world into chaos.

In 1968, the release of Paul Ehrlich’s best-selling book The Population Bomb and his multiple appearances on the “Tonight Show" helped spread fears that our planet could not sustain itself. Population concerns were already percolating, and Americans soon flocked to Ehrlich’s movement, Zero Population Growth, whose mantra on children was “stop at two."

While many of his forecasts did not come true, they left a legacy that is still with us today. In the end, the story of The Population Bomb sheds a fascinating light on the dangers of prediction and the adaptability of the human race.

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This video was supported in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion by Clyde Haberman

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