A funny thing happened on the way to the population crisis. The birth rates of some countries started falling dramatically. In fact, the world's population may drop within the next fifty years. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, re-evaluating the population bomb. Also, a profile of biologist Paul Erlich.
Nicholas Eberstadt is a demographer at Harvard and the American Enterprise Institute. He tells Judith Strasser that populations are declining in many countries around the world; that the U.S. depends on immigration to make up the numbers; and that the pay-as-you-go system of social security is ill-suited to cope with an aging population. Also, Ellen Waltersheid is a senior editor for The Sciences and was an enumerator for the 1990 census. She tells Jim Fleming what it was like; why the 1990 census was the most expensive and least reliable ever; and why there's controversy about the issue of statistical sampling.SEGMENT 2:
Environmental writer Bill McKibben says it's not just the absolute number of people that creates the population crisis: it's also the environmental impact of each new person in consumer cultures. He tells Steve Paulson that he and his wife have chosen to limit themselves to a single child and suggests that others think about doing the same. McKibben's books include "The End of Nature," and "Maybe One."SEGMENT 3:
Biologist Paul Ehrlich became a celebrity scientist thirty years ago with the publication of his book "The Population Bomb." Ehrlich tells Steve Paulson that it was his work with butterfly populations that got him interested in the human population issue, and that getting people to consume less is harder than getting them to reproduce less. Also, Alan Weisman is the author of "Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World." He tells Jim Fleming about some of the technological innovations that have allowed a thriving community to exist in Colombia on a formerly desolate savannah with bad soil and too much rain. Alan Weisman's new book "Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World," can be previewed at http://www.chelseagreen.com/GaviotasCassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 98-08-02-B.
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