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In Review

More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want

by Robert Engelman
303 pages, Island Press, 2008

book cover thumbnail, word: More, depiction of a small pillMany people associate the advent of birth control with the introduction of the Pill. Since it was approved for use in 1960, the Pill has caught on quickly – 100 million women worldwide use this form of contraception. Many more than that, however, are sexually active, don’t want to become pregnant, but are not using any form of contraception.

Finding ways to regulate fertility has been on women’s minds long before the introduction of the Pill. Some have used the wildflower Queen Anne’s lace, common milkweed, or even mistletoe, a plant that can ensure that all the kissing it inspires doesn’t result in an unwanted pregnancy. Of course, these traditional forms of contraception aren’t as effective as the Pill, and, as author Robert Engelman points out in More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, they aren’t always as safe, either. Engelman cautions that “[t]wo women died in the United States in recent decades after taking large amounts of pennyroyal oil in efforts to self-induce abortion.”

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. As Engelman notes, “the population growth that accompanies most successful cultures eventually undermines the environmental base on which such a culture thrives. Through environmental degradation and the multiplication of arguments and conflicts, population growth beyond certain points also complicates and stresses governance and the other social bonds by which cultures function.” In other words, only so many clowns can fit into a Volkswagen before it stops being funny.

Engelman demonstrates that there has long been a pattern of population growth leading to scarcity, which prompts innovation that ultimately leads to still more growth. He strikes a great balance of academia, wit, and humor as he takes us back through time from our early origins to modern day. Engelman proposes various theories, all reasonable and feasible, that examine how we evolved from a species that shared the planet with other species of equal populations to one that has not only driven many of our planetary roommates to extinction, but now also threatens to render the same fate to ourselves.

More than just report on what we already know – that the massive and continuously growing number of humans is capable of excessive harm to the environment – Engelman provides his own prescription to prevent future harm. “[F]or the sake of women and their families, and with one eye toward humanity’s survival on a finite planet, societies should work to make unintended pregnancy as rare as possible. Contraception doesn’t need the ‘help’ of coercion or incentives or propaganda. It just needs to be well advertised, inexpensive, safe, and there. That and the real recognition of women’s equality are all we need to put human population on a sustainable path.”

In writing his book, Engelman may have unwittingly provided a low-cost and safe method to help us limit our population growth. More is so fascinating and engrossing that it could be the most effective birth control method yet. “Not tonight, honey. I’m reading this really good book!”

—Audrey Webb


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There should be more options for women in terms of birth control.  But I doubt the church will support any.

By KarenG on Tue, October 26, 2010 at 4:46 am

The Rainbow Unicorn has become too powerful, threatening to upset the systematization matrix.  There are no real reasons for this.
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By Ranger Danger on Tue, April 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

A little Malthusian but hey, with ubiquitous sustainable energy conversations, it’s nice to hear a different topic in need of sustainability. It is sad to see lives lost over an issue which shouldn’t be a political one.

By Car Navigation on Wed, December 02, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Fascinating stuff. The historical and analytical elements are informative and convincing, and it’s very thoroughly researched. Some of the attempts at humor fall flat, but overall, worth the read. <b><a href=“”>Free Games</a></b> Website.

By Angela on Wed, November 18, 2009 at 1:32 am

A refreshing change from the usual gloom-and-doom overpopulation books, this one actually has some answers as to what can be done. Engelman proposes various theories. <a href=“”> insurance quotes </a>A wonderful history of human population, family planning, the formation and growth of modern societies, the role of women in controlling their own fertility and more.

By free insurance quotes on Sat, October 31, 2009 at 3:10 am

Yahh, Pickle-minded that’s the term.
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By Donald on Wed, October 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Yes pill is a necessity but I don’t think it’s that safe. <a href=“”>Swamp coolers</a>

By Aaron on Mon, October 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Very interesting and informative article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject.
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By Paul on Fri, October 16, 2009 at 6:43 am

Thanks for posting a very informative article. I can’t agree more to the comments.
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By James on Thu, October 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

It’s really true,he more people there is, the more chance of environmental destruction.
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By Rudi on Wed, October 14, 2009 at 7:57 am

You might not know it but most of the women are pickle minded that’s the main reason why population gets higher and higher.
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By Alan on Tue, October 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm

If you concerned about global population or just interested in learning more about the topic and the debate that swirls around it, this is an entertaining, informative and compelling book. I highly recommend it. <a href=“”>Motorcycle Helmet</a>

By Ana on Thu, October 08, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Pills may be a necessity, but I am really not confident that it would slow down the population growth.

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By John on Wed, October 07, 2009 at 7:43 am

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about demography, women’s reproductive rights, and/or anthropology. This book should interest just about anyone and is not the dry, academic sort of textbook that you might expect of this topic. I’m even going to propose it as a selection for my monthly book club!
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By Bruce on Mon, October 05, 2009 at 6:22 am

Yes, Pills are necessity, unfortunately.

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By Steve on Sat, October 03, 2009 at 10:17 am

This article was interesting. I have to admit, your talent in writing really fascinates me.
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By Mike on Fri, October 02, 2009 at 6:42 am

This was a very compelling and thought-provoking look at population and the role of women’s rights in achieving a sustainable number of human beings on this planet. A refreshing change from the usual gloom-and-doom overpopulation books, this one actually has some answers as to what can be done.

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By insurance quotes on Thu, October 01, 2009 at 8:32 am

I plodded through it because a lot of the information was interesting. Still, the writing style was really boring and it was filled with all kinds of side comments that weren’t really applicable. I learned a lot and I am really fascinated by the concept of fertility and fertility control as world changing and women as those with the most power over those things.
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By Seamus on Wed, September 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I can’t remember the last time I was so fascinated by a book. A wonderful history of human population, family planning, the formation and growth of modern societies, the role of women in controlling their own fertility and more. <a href=“”>Ladies Clothing</a>

By keith on Tue, September 29, 2009 at 9:16 am

I’m not sure I would have bought it myself, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Engelman is an engaging writer, even when writing about something potentially boring, like demographics. <a href=“”>Auto Parts</a>

By Dara on Mon, September 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

Very often when young women have to decide what contaceptives to choose they don’t think about the consequences of their use. The programme which I watched once ( rapidshare search) showed the results of using the pills preventing undesirable pregnancy. The statistics claim that in many cases their taking may cause great problems with your health. That’s why we should be attentive making a decision to protect ourselves in such a way.

By Danny on Sun, September 27, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Population growth is emerging from its contentious history as a hot new topic. For anyone who wants to understand whats at stake, Robert Engelmans dazzling new book is essential reading. The writing is engaging, the material fascinating, and the topic vital. <a href=“”>Dog Obedience</a>

By james on Thu, September 24, 2009 at 7:53 am

This was a very compelling and thought-provoking look at population and the role of women’s rights in achieving a sustainable number of human beings on this planet. A refreshing change from the usual gloom-and-doom overpopulation books, this one actually has some answers as to what can be done.
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By Russel on Tue, September 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

This is really great article. Moat women are pickle minded that’s why they end up having abortion and worst die out of it. <a href=“”>Bulletproof Jackets</a>

By James on Mon, September 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I agree with most of what was said.  It needs to be mentioned, however, that if any other medication is taken while on the pill, it greatly reduces it’s effectiveness.  <a href=“”>italian shoes</a>

By Josh on Mon, September 21, 2009 at 8:50 am

Fertility and birth control has always been an issue ever since it was introduced. The world is divided into those who are for birth control and those who are against and majority of those who belong in the anti group are Christians. I’m surprised the Christians all over the world have not created a propaganda against Engelman for writing something so controversial. <a href=“”>hemorrhoid treatment</a>

By Daniel on Thu, September 17, 2009 at 12:32 pm

This is a fantastic article and I agree that using the pill is a good way to curb the population growth that could potentially harm our environment. However, as stated, this needs to be safe. I also understand the other side where people don’t believe an innocent <a href=“”>baby</a> should be destroyed. I guess this is why we have the right to choose.

By Baby on Tue, September 15, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I liked the article very much. It is well written. Besides, its title is great.It seems to me that Engelman rises quite topical questions. You know it is strange and it was also discoered in one of Discovery programs (downloaded it at the torrents files search engine <a href=> </a> ) that this problem has not been solved until now. All contaceptives do not give 100% result and some of them are even dangerous. It’s not that it is impossible to creat it but there is no necessity. People don’t want to interfere into natural processes to such an extend.

By Kevin on Mon, August 24, 2009 at 6:23 am

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