William Vogt (May 15, 1902 – July 11, 1968) was an ecologist and ornithologist, with a strong interest in population control. He was the author of best-seller Road to Survival (1948), National Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and secretary of the Conservation Foundation.
William Vogt was born in Mineola, New York. After graduating with honors in 1925 from St. Stephens (now Bard) College, he was, among other things, an early opponent of marshland drainage for mosquito control and later assumed a series of positions that gave him the opportunity to further pursue his interests in birds and the environment.
In 1942, he was made Associate Director of the Division of Science and Education of the Office of the Coordinator in Inter-American Affairs. Later he served as Chief of the Conservation Section of the Pan American Union, he was given the opportunity to study the relationship between climate, population and resources, in various Latin American countries. These experiences formed the background to the perspective he later elaborated on in his Road to Survival, a book motivated by his strong belief that then-current trends in fertility and economic growth were rapidly destroying the environment and undermining the quality of life of future generations. Vogt’s most significant contribution was to link environmental and perceived overpopulation problems, warning in no uncertain terms that current trends would deliver future wars, hunger, disease and civilizational collapse.
Road to Survival was an influential best seller. It had a big impact on a Malthusian revival in the 1950s and 60s. After its publication he dedicated many activities to the cause of overpopulation. From 1951 to 1962, he served as a National Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1964, he became the Secretary of the Conservation Foundation. He served as a representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources to the United Nations until his death. "Upon his death on July 11, 1968, he was remembered for the provocative questions he had dared to ask and for tackling a subject matter that remained shrouded in controversy."
- 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. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Robertson, Thomas. (2012) The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism. Rutgers University Press
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