Allan Toffler, the author of Future Shock, passed away on Monday. I read it when it first came out. It was a pretty influential book. The NYT wrote:
In the book, in which he synthesized disparate facts from every corner of the globe, he concluded that the convergence of science, capital and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society. His predictions about the consequences to culture, the family, government and the economy were remarkably accurate.
The obituary also noted some critics:
…systems theorist Richard W. Longman wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Toffler “sends flocks of facts and speculation whirling past like birds in a tornado.” In Time magazine, the reviewer R. Z. Sheppard wrote, “Toffler’s redundant delivery and overheated prose turned kernels of truth into puffed generalities.”
However, reading both the praise and criticism, I thought of Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, published with Ann Ehrlich in 1968, two years before Toffler’s book and another “mover and shaker” of the times. The Ehrlichs were not so much futurists as a biologists who wrote about the future. They have been criticized, as well, but largely for the failure of their predictions. To my mind, however, they can’t be criticized for using facts loosely nor inaccurate predictions. It’s just that the impact of the explosion of human population is being largely ignored and its impact is mistaken as discrete problems, e.g., resource wars, species extinction, climate disruption and famine, not dynamically inter-related to population.
I believe human population growth is the primary driver of suffering in our time and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
Both Paul and Ann are still living. I wish them good health and life as long as they think reasonable.
Check this out: World Population Growth