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The Population Bomb

Professors Danny Dorling and Stephen Emmott join author Lionel Shriver to look at the warnings of a 1968 book and whether we should heed its view of an overpopulated planet.

The geographer Danny Dorling; Lionel Shriver, the author and patron of Population Matters; and Stephen Emmott, author of 10 Billion, join Matthew Sweet and an audience at Sage Gateshead to debate whether we should have fewer children.

In 1968 a Stanford university professor, Dr Paul E. Ehrlich, published The Population Bomb. This call to arms became a global bestseller, influenced public policy and made its author a celebrity. It predicted mass starvation in the US and an England underwater by the year 2000. It also suggested adding ‘temporary sterilants’ to the water supply as a way to stem the ensuing crisis. For decades it has come under fire for its alarmist tone and laughable foresight but with global population set to hit ten billion by 2050, will Ehrlich eventually be proved right?

Danny Dorling is Professor of Geography at Oxford University and the author of Population 10 Billion. His research focuses on housing, health, employment, education and poverty. His recent books include Do We Need Economic Inequality? The Equality Effect, and he co-wrote Why Demography Matters.

Lionel Shriver’s novels include The Standing Chandelier, The Mandibles, and the award-winning We Need to Talk About Kevin. Lionel is a regular columnist at The Spectator and has written for numerous other publications including for The Wall Street Journal, New Statesman, and The Economist. She is a patron of Population Matters.

Stephen Emmott is the author of Ten Billion, which he performed as a drama at the Royal Court Theatre. He is a Professor at Cambridge. His work develops new computational methods and ways of thinking about complex living systems.

Producer: Craig Templeton Smith.

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44 minutes