The Magazine

Remember the Future?

The population bomb was ticking, and apocalypse was next in line .  .  .

Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By PATRICK ALLITT
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This caveat aside, The Bet very capably explains how we got to today’s political impasse over environmental questions. It also shows how the interplay of ideas and personalities can have serious consequences when a feud goes public. 

Finally, like all good histories, it reminds us that the past is a foreign country. It takes us back to a time and place in which the prevailing orthodoxy about overpopulation, famine, and exhaustion of resources was so powerful—and its antithesis apparently so implausible—that its principal spokesman could enjoy decades of almost complete immunity to refutation.

Patrick Allitt, professor of history at Emory University, is the author, most recently, of The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History.