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Our Plundered Planet

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Our Plundered Planet
First US edition, Little, Brown and Company
AuthorFairfield Osborn
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
Publication date
March 25, 1948[1]
Publication placeUnited States

Our Plundered Planet is a book published in 1948 by American conservationist Fairfield Osborn about environmental destruction by humankind. With a focus on soil, the book is a critique of humankind's poor stewardship of Earth. It typifies the earliest apocalyptic environmental literature, in which human beings are seen as destroyers of the natural world.[2]

Our Plundered Planet, along with William Vogt's Road to Survival, also published in 1948, launched a Malthusian revival in the post-WWII era, and would inspire Anne Howland Ehrlich and her colleague and husband Paul R. Ehrlich, authors of The Population Bomb, The Dominant Animal and more than 30 other books on overpopulation and ecology.[3][4][5]


In writing this book, Osborn was influenced by Guy I. Burch and Elmer Pendell's overpopulation tract Population Roads to Peace or War (1945) and Paul Sears' analysis of dust bowls in Deserts on the March (1935). He had also been influenced by various "New Deal" initiatives in the public planning of land use and restoration, such as the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civilian Conservation Corps and various policies to address the "Dust Bowls" of the time. Osborn, as well as his famous father, Henry Fairfield Osborn, was also heavily influenced by the eugenics movement before World War II.[3]


  • US edition: Little, Brown and Company, 1948.
  • UK edition: Faber and Faber, London, 1948.
  • French translation published in 1949 (La planète au pillage).
  • German edition: 1950, Pan-Verlag, Zürich, Switzerland, translated by Fritz Levi, foreword: Paul Reiwald (Univ. Genf), title: Unsere ausgeplünderte Erde, 161 pages.

Our Plundered Planet has been reprinted at least eight times and been translated into over a dozen languages since original publication.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mann, Charles C. (2018). The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World. New York: Vintage, a Division of Penguin Random House. ISBN 9780345802842.
  2. ^ Netzley, Patricia (1999). Environmental Literature. California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-000-X.
  3. ^ a b Pierre Desrochers; Christine Hoffbauer (2009). "The Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb" (PDF). The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development. 1 (3): 73–97. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
  4. ^ White, Rachel; Scheuering, Rachel White (2004). Shapers of the Great Debate on Conservation: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-313-32826-8.
  5. ^ Friedman, Lynne; Basu, Janet. "Tyler Prize goes to Ehrlichs: 3/18/98". news.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2022-11-30.