How Many People Can the Earth Support?
by Joel E. Cohen
WW Norton & Co, NY, 1995
532 pages, $15 paperback
Joel Cohen is masterful in his exploration of the relationship of population growth to people's interaction with each other and the natural environment. He also provides glimpses of the cultural and political forces that shape, and are shaped by, the convergence of population growth and carrying capacity.
Cohen assesses the strengths and weaknesses of population growth models, comparing the models to actual population data. He offers insights on the effects of social, economic, cultural, environmental, and political variables on historic population patterns, setting the foundation for discussion of population prediction and the real question at hand: what is the capacity of the Earth to support humans?
Though much of this information is dire, Cohen also explores ways towards a quality future by showing that we can reformulate questions about our collective wants and needs and redefine our ideas about quality of life.
Reviewed by R. Lee Hatcher, program director at Sustainable Seattle.