Article “The 2022 Population and Housing Census” published in The star of the day July 28 showed us that the rate of population growth in Bangladesh “has slowed down over the past four decades.” However, sitting in traffic for what seems like 50 hours, jostling hordes of people in the streets and malls – basically anywhere in Dhaka, and looking at other socio-economic issues such as housing, pollution, standard of living, population density and so on, one does not get the impression that overpopulation has ceased to be a problem in and for this country.
Despite the growth rate decelerating and the country’s population currently standing at 16.51 crore from just 14 crore in 2011, just 10 years ago, overpopulation is still a massive cause of headaches for most of us.
So here are nine books in which the writer, through facts, statistics and fiction, shows us the less than favorable consequences and results of overpopulation.
1. Countdown: Our last and best hope for a future on Earth?
Petit, Brown and Company, 2013
To find this work of non-fiction, author Alan Weisman traveled to more than 20 countries to ask a crucial question: how many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? It takes into account issues ranging across cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies.
The book describes how and why the presence of human beings and our habits are pushing the world towards exhaustion, and offers, perhaps “the fastest, most acceptable, most practical and most affordable way to bring our planet back and our presence on it to balance,” according to its blurb.
2. The Steel Caverns (Robot #1)
The Earth is overpopulated. The Spacers and their acolytes, the robots, have invaded the planet. Galaxies have been colonized, machines have acquired sentience. Elijah Baley is a policeman who has no love to spare for this “advanced” and overpopulated Earth. But when a Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, he is ordered by the “people” above to find his killer. And his regular partner? A robot.
In this gripping science fiction novel, Isaac Asimov shines a light on a potential future full of progress and technology at the cost of overpopulation and resource depletion.
3. Essay on the principle of population
Thomas Robert Malthus, Geoffrey Gilbert (ed.)
(Oxford University Press, 1798)
Did this duo of 18th century authors and publishers foresee today’s future? Could they have imagined that we would grow to almost 8 billion people this year despite their alarming growth but our miserable “225,000 people a day”?
This book examines population growth leading to hunger, poverty, starvation and disease and argues that these are phenomena necessary for the survival of human lives. For example, Malthus explores the outbreak of the Black Death in medieval times, when thousands had died and lords faced a labor shortage, how wages and benefits rose for surviving workers. He also predicted that the population would double every 25 years while agricultural growth would remain static. Links like these have made the book a hugely influential work in economics and population studies.
4. Man Swarm: How overpopulation is killing the wild world
Dave Foreman, Laura Carroll (eds.)
(True Books Live, 2011)
Author Dave Foreman in How overpopulation is killing the wild world claimed to unveil a truth that has already come into play, even before he wrote it: overpopulation is killing the world.
However, he also claims that this pandemic can be solved.
In a simple but effective way, Foreman explains how, if we are aware of our actions and through proactive positions, we can “solve” – as the blurbs suggest – the problem of overpopulation.
James Graham “JG” Ballard
(Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1962)
A comprehensive collection of short stories and science fiction novels, including “The Gentle Assassin” (1961), “Chronopolis” (1960)”, “Prima Belladonna” (1956), “The Garden of Time” (1962), and One of the works, “Build-Up” (1957) is a deadpan satire on overpopulation and shares, through the narrator’s stream of consciousness, a glimpse into a dystopian futuristic world, devastated by decay and hyper advancement.
Ballard’s collection is highly recommended for readers interested in dystopian literature and those who are avid science fiction readers.
6. Overdevelopment, overpopulation, overshoot
Tom Butler et al.
(Goff Books, 2015)
In this book, the author proposes that most of the socio-economic problems that we are currently facing – not just in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but all over the world – are compounded by population growth. The depletion of natural resources, the severe damage to the natural ecosystem, the terrible condition of the climate and its associated consequences – why do policy makers and the media continue to ignore these issues, he asks.
MORE is a collection of essays by population experts like Eileen Crist and William Ryerson, and at its heart is a series of photographic essays illuminating the profound damage that growing populations and their behavior have done to the Earth, and which threaten the future of humanity.
seven. Hell (Robert Langdon #4)
Robert Landon, the Harvard symbologist, wakes up in a hospital in Italy with a head injury and no memory of what has happened to him in the past 36 hours; he keeps hearing a woman’s voice telling him to “seek and find”. After finding a bottle with a biohazard sign in his jacket, decides to call the US Consulate and learns they are looking for him. On the other hand, he and his doctor, Sienna Brooks, are pursued by a relentless assassin and are forced to flee.
Through this cat-and-mouse chase, Robert Landon and his companion must unravel a series of codes, created by a brilliant scientist obsessed with the end of the world, in order to save humanity.
8. The population bomb
Paul R. Ehrlich
(Buccaneer Books, 1968)
Written by a Stanford University professor and his wife, Anne Ehrlich, this book has been widely criticized for its alarmist tone. However, he had successfully predicted global famine in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals. The writer in his book advocates immediate action to limit population growth and extends the idea of ”population explosion”, which was previously a term more used in academic circles, to a wider and more mainstream audience.
A large part of the book is dedicated to describing the state of the environment and food security. Additionally, Ehrlich argues that because the population at the time was undernourished and growing rapidly, it was unreasonable to expect sufficient improvements in food production to feed everyone.
9. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1)
Card Orson Scott
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he’s playing computer-simulated war games, but what he’s a part of is far more menacing. He is the result of genetic experimentation, a genius, and the hero Earth is looking for to defeat the Buggers – a race of aliens that the planet has been at war with for a hundred years and who seek to destroy all human life.
This military sci-fi book explores the dynamics of power, jealousy, revenge and tells the story of Wiggin sailing through high winds to save all of mankind as they anticipate another invasion from their dangerous alien enemies.
Maisha Syeda is a writer, painter and graduate in English literature and writing. She is the deputy editor of Daily Star Books.