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Population, Nature, and What Women Want

Robert Engelman


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (8/30/2010)


In the capital of Ghana, a teenager nicknamed “Condom Sister” trolls the streets to educate other young people about contraception. Her work and her own aspirations point to a remarkable shift not only in the West African nation, where just a few decades ago women had nearly seven children on average, but around the globe. While world population continues to grow, family size keeps dropping in countries as diverse as Switzerland and South Africa.

The phenomenon has some lamenting the imminent extinction of humanity, while others warn that our numbers will soon outgrow the planet’s resources. Robert Engelman offers a decidedly different vision—one that celebrates women’s widespread desire for smaller families. Mothers aren’t seeking more children, he argues, but more for their children. If they’re able to realize their intentions, we just might suffer less climate change, hunger, and disease, not to mention sky-high housing costs and infuriating traffic jams.

In More, Engelman shows that this three-way dance between population, women’s autonomy, and the natural world is as old as humanity itself. He traces pivotal developments in our history that set population—and society—on its current trajectory, from hominids’ first steps on two feet to the persecution of “witches” in Europe to the creation of modern contraception. Both personal and sweeping, More explores how population growth has shaped modern civilization—and humanity as we know it.

The result is a mind-stretching exploration of parenthood, sex, and culture through the ages. Yet for all its fascinating historical detail, More is primarily about the choices we face today. Whether society supports women to have children when and only when they choose to will not only shape their lives, but the world all our children will inherit.

Praise For More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want

"Useful and illuminating."
— Washington Post

"Population growth is emerging from its contentious history as a hot new topic. For anyone who wants to understand what's at stake, Robert Engelman's dazzling new book is essential reading. The writing is engaging, the material fascinating, and the topic vital. More is marvellous!"
— Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College and author of "Born to Buy"

"An astute and lively rumination that examines both the past and future of our planet. Robert Engelman's More is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking."
— Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "An Army at Dawn" and "The Day of Battle"

"Full of surprises, More is a fresh reminder to pay attention to the too-often hidden crux of our environmental crisis: the unsustainable rate of human population growth."
— Katherine Ellison, author of "The Mommy Brain" and coauthor of "The New Economy of Nature"

"This provocative, well-reasoned, and eminently readable book deserves a wide audience. The connections Engelman draws between opportunity for women and sustainable population are at once commonsensical and inspired."
— Joel E. Cohen, Mauzé Professor of Populations, author of "How Many People Can Support the Earth?"

"With engaging prose, Engelman takes readers on a delightful journey—that both entertains and educates – of modern civilization and women's central role to ensuring the economic and social well-being of their families, communities, nations and the global community."
— Geeta Rao Gupta, President, International Center for Research on Women

"More offers an astute and compassionate look at the complex topic through the fresh lens of women's rights and their role in population control."
— Plenty

"Engelman...passionately argues that the best way to stem this growth is to empower women to control their own reproduction, yielding the smaller, more stable families they usually desire."
— SEED Magazine

"Clear and accessible . . . engagingly written . . ."
— Population and Development Review

"Robert Engelman has published his first and long anticipated book, More... It's a treasure trove of anthropological anecdotes for us who work to stabilize population through voluntary measures."
— The Reporter (Population Connection)

"Journalist Engelman brings a discerning eye to the literature on population trends, environmental sustainability, and women's efforts to control their reproductive lives."
— Choice

"…convincingly champions women's reproductive rights the world over."
— Salon

"More gives us a well-researched overview of fertility and women's desire to control it, delivering an entertaining array of theories and scientific findings from historical, sociological, anthropological, and cultural perspectives....He strikes a great balance of academia, wit, and humor..."
— Earth Island Journal

"How do women's reproductive choices affect global population and environmental health? Despite his provocative subtitle, Engelman answers this question with humility, humor, and great deal of research."
— Alternatives Journal

Island Press, 9781597260190, 320pp.

Publication Date: May 8, 2008

About the Author

Robert Engelman is Vice President for Programs at the Worldwatch Institute. Formerly Vice President for Research at Population Action International and Founding Secretary of the Society of Environmental Journalists, he has served on the faculty of Yale University. His writing has appeared in Nature,The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.