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Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash [Paperback]

Fred Pearce
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

Wherever we look, population is the driver of the most toxic issues on the political agenda. But the population bomb is being defused. Half the world's women are having two children or fewer. Within a generation, the world's population will be falling. And we will all be getting very old.

So should we welcome the return to centre stage of the tribal elders? Or is humanity facing a fate worse than environmental apocalypse?

Brilliant, heretical and accessible to all, Fred Pearce takes on the matter that is fundamental to who we are and how we live, confronting our demographic demons.

Frequently Bought Together

Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash + When The Rivers Run Dry: What Happens When Our Water Runs Out? + The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth
Price For All Three: 24.52

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Eden Project Books (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190581139X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905811397
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"With his usual clarity and dash Fred Pearce brings us the best news we've heard in 10,000 years - that the human population should soon level out, at a number that should be quite manageable; and some of the problems that may seem so dire in truth are assets - including the rise in average age and the increase in migration. This isn't wishful thinking - it's hard science. And it changes everything." (Colin Tudge)


Peoplequake is a debate-shaping book. Sobre, fascinating, it redraws the boundaries of the population debate. Pearce points out that the Earth could adequately meet the needs of a bigger population, but only once natural resources are shared more equally and managed using ecological

principles. The population bomb would defuse itself even quicker if we tackled over-consumption by the rich instead of fretting about the poor having children. This brilliant book's insights could save many lives and stop many more from suffering.

" (Andrew Simms, Policy Director at the New Economics Forum)

"What a wonderfully rich and humane book! As a generation of newly-empowered women sweeps away our wrongheaded Malthusian nightmare, Fred Pearce demonstrates persuasively that the end of the population surge may well usher in a new era of ethnic tolerance, increased global integration and a period of kinder and more nurturing governance." (Ross Gelbspan, author of THE HEAT IS ON and BOILING POINT)

"Fearless and well-informed; every paragraph crackles. Pearce evokes past and present with vivid detail and startlingly coherent insight." (Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment and Senior Research Associate at The Rockefeller University)

"This is a well written and important book ... we highly recommend (Fred Pearce's) book - everyone should be grateful that he wrote it" (New Scientist)

Book Description

A groundbreaking book that reveals the truth about population levels, and where they will take us in the future.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read This Book 29 July 2010
By robot
a hugely important summary of the demographic challenges facing the next 3 generations .
and they are certainly not what people think they are .
I've given this to all mine and my partners children with strict instructions to read .
and then to pass on to their partners and friends .
I've never recommended a book so strongly .
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic Sensation Mongering 23 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, Fred Pearce can write. No doubt about that. And write fast, I suppose, since this book appears very simplistic. Initially the Irish potato famine is described to set the scene. Pearce tells the story he likes to tell, but please take the trouble to read J S Donnelly (The Great Irish Potato Famine) for the real, balanced story! Pearce's presentation of concepts like biofuel and demographic transition are likewise simplistic and skewed. Downright funny is his dismissal of of Meadows and al., Limits to Growth from a. 1970: The[ir] main model run showed business continuing as usual till about 2010. After that, 'as resource prices rise and mines are depleted, more and more capital must be used for obtaining resources, leaving less to be invested for [...]'. Well, might not Peak Oil fit that prediction remarkably well? No reflection on that by Fred Pearce! - More scary is that Pearce takes for granted that the rest of the world should just give way and surrender the world to the overly fecund. Sure, a demographic collapse in a country with 8 to 12-fold population increase within just a few generations could be Hell on Earth - but need it really be the end of the world? Not living in such a country myself, I could easily see the world live through such events and emerge in better shape eventually. - For a more balanced and not so sensational, but still popular account of modern world demograhics, read 'More' by Robert Engelman instead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 4 April 2010
I read an excerpt of this book in the Guardian Weekly and almost immediately went and bought it. It's a fascinating read, albeit a little sensationalist at times (well, the author's a journalist - what should I expect?). Really enjoyed the survey of population theorists and government population campaigns - the facts and figures are astounding and often shocking. I've had difficulty putting it down - a recommended read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A broad perspective on the population debate 3 May 2011
The world is going through a massive demographic transition. It is a century in and has at least another century to run. Life on this planet, and even the planet itself, will be very different by the time it is over. Fred Pearce calls this the `peoplequake'.

The book sets out the facts of population growth, the direction of current trends, and then assesses these facts from a whole variety of angles. Perspective include urbanisation, consumerism, women's liberation, and the history of population science. What emerges is that different countries are at different stages in the quake. Some are still going to boom, while others are in decline, their populations aging. Overall, the result is a kind of 'peak population' scenario, with population reaching 9 billion or so around 2070 and then declining.

"If you are over 45," says Pearce, "you have lived through a period when the world population has doubled. No past generation has lived through such an era - and probably no future generation will either. But if you are under 45, you will almost certainly live to see a world population that is declining - for the first time since the Black Death almost 700 years ago."

The book raises all kinds of important questions, about the rights and wrongs of population control, how we deal with an aging population, and the role of population in climate change.

Peoplequake is a really useful book for thinking through the population question, but I would recommend reading it alongside others. Perhaps anxious to avoid the doom and gloom of many books on the topic, it skirts around many of the harder truths of sustainability, such as resource decline. For that, it's a three star book rather than four.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A demographic pageturner 9 Mar 2010
I was triggered to read Peoplequake by a tweet that led to Fred Pearce's suspense article on the shrinking eastern German city of Hoyerswerda in The Guardian. Imagine a city halved in population and wolves slinking in from across the Polish and Czech border, roaming the empty buildings. Apart from this story on shrinking German cities, Peoplequake is full of intriguing chapters on every aspect of demography you can possibly think of. From the Irish Famine and Malthusian ideas on natural selection to active greying, Sex and the City or the Chinese one-child policy. And what makes this book really worthwhile is the fact that Pearce has an open mind with which he approaches all sides of the issue of demography. Did you for instance know that the founding fathers of family planning were actually having a hidden eugenetic agenda and were a great inspiration to Adolf Hitler? Did you know that at the end of this century Italy will only have 8 mln. inhabitants, as compared to 56 mln today? Demography is a reliable predictor on which countries are going to cause wars in the coming decade and which countries will simply disappear from the world stage. Peoplequake is a pageturner. Pearce makes you put on demographic glasses to look anew at all the issues the world today has to address: shrinking, global warming, food, war and peace or economic outlook. And each time you will find that many things are not what you thought they were and that truth is stranger than fiction.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
good book
Published 1 day ago by RWalker
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener
We live on a finite planet so there must be a limit to the population that Mother Earth can support. But there are ways .... and ways of curtailing population growth ... Read more
Published 3 months ago by John Swainson
1.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous misinformation
This book has a popularist agenda which is not as closely based on the truth as it claims. The global population is still growing fast. Read more
Published 14 months ago by D. L. C. Raymond
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Could Open an Intelligent Debate on Population
As an optimist by nature I've been listening for some years to the panic over immigration, longer life spans and fewer births but was unfazed by the situation. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Val
5.0 out of 5 stars Have your preconceptions challenged
I read this because it had been recommended by Stewart Brand and I'm glad I didn't let the negative reviews sway me. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Gerry Gaughan
3.0 out of 5 stars An optimistic view
Pearce manages to write in such a way that will, for the most part, hold your interest, but his propensity for case studies and circumstantial, anecdotal evidence weakens the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Talwyn Hawkins
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh air of a book
Reading this book reminds me of another book I read last year, The Rational Optimist. They can be probably filed under the genre of `things are not that bad' genre of social and... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2012 by A. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
This is an engaging and easy-to-read take on the current state of world population.
As someone who would describe myself as an environmentalist, I read a lot of very... Read more
Published on 3 May 2012 by Mr. John J. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Have just finished this enlightening book. it ought to be a must read for senior school pupils. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published on 15 Dec 2011 by Ralph Dexter
1.0 out of 5 stars You only read twice
Great book but why the hell is it published by two publishers under two completely different titles? Read more
Published on 12 July 2011 by Bracca Ley
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Is population growth really the big issue today? 1 6 Dec 2011
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