by MAURICE NASSAN, S.J.
The Population Problem by Arthur McCormack (Thomas Y. Crowell Co. $7.95) Life Without Birth by Stanley Johnson (Heinemann 50s.) The Doomsday Book by Gordon Rattray Taylor hames and Hudson 42s.)
FR. McCORMACK writes in the introduction of this his latest book on the population problem: "The purpose of this book is to attempt to suggest in an intelligible and readable form. the answers to three questions: First. what are the facts about the population situation in the world today and in the foreseeable future? Second. can the resources of the world cope with the situation. not only in regard to food but with regard to all the other elements of a decent life-and. if so, how? Third. what part have population policies to play?" Fr. McCormack is in no way an extremist. He steers a course between the prophets of doom who see nothing but ruin and starvation facing men unless they drastically reduce their fertility and those optimists who believe that technological progress will enable man, if properly organised. to sun. ive for a long time if not for ever without dire consequences. He sees the world food problem as an immediate threat. but he also sees ample evidence to contradict those who say it is insoluble.
He believes that technological advances in developing such food staples as new varieties of wheat and rice can supply all present needs. He agrees that there should be limitation of population in under-developed countries in keeping with their cultural and religious traditions: otherwise the quality of life in those countries will be impaired. Slums. lack of education. poverty. are pointers to this.
This is a very valuable hook by one of the most distinguished demographers of our time. It should he read by anybody concerned with the problem of population, so Much to the fore today and so little understood by many people.
Mr. Johnson's book has as its sub-title "A Journey through the Third World in search of the Population Explosion". His journey took him to Brazil, Chile. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia. India. Pakistan and Kenya. This resulted in his becoming an .ardent advocate of family planning.
He castigates Pope Paul VI for his encyclical, Hinnanac Vitae, saying "If any single human being is to be brought to the bar of history for crimes against humanity in this last third of the twentieth century, it must be Paul VI — for he has consigned countless millions to misery and anguish mental and material. I believe that Ilionanac Vitae may come to he ranked as one of the most massive errors of judgment ever made."
The books lacks the balance of Fr. McCormack's work but it does bring out very vividly the need for limitation of population especially in undeveloped countries.
Mr. Taylor's book has a wider scope than the other two. It deals not only with the population explosion and the harm it is doing to the quality of human life but also with the frightful consequences of much of modern technology. "The technological dream." he says, "is becoming a nightmare and it is time to wake up. or we may die in our sleep."
Not only is the environment, he states. being loaded with gases. acids, metals and assorted poisons but the ens ironment itself is being ruined by dirt. river pollution. destruction of animal life and in a host of • other ssLiy, so that the human species. like a culture of rapidly growing bacteria, is beginning to he poisoned by its own waste products. This is in many ways, as its title indicates. a frightening book. It is a revelation of the stupidity of man, his worship of sheer materialism with its neglect of the "right use of creatures" and the spiritual values that alone can bring him salvation.
It is a timely work by a journalist who knows well how to highlight his case and who, no doubt, at times overstates it but does so with the avowed intention of drawing people's minds to the serious dangers from our modern technological world and its increasing pressures of population.