In 1968 Paul Erlich published The Population Bomb, in which he predicted that world population would grow quickly during the 1970s, that agricultural production could not keep up, and that mass starvation in the next two decades was inevitable. As someone who grew up during those decades, I am happy to report that those predictions were wrong. But world population growth is still a topic of concern, and it is an open question how many people Earth can sustain while maintaining and improving our quality of life.

In this chapter and the next, we’ll use tools from the previous chapters to model world population growth ...

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