I blame the stinking politicians and so-called public leaders who have avoided the issue and covered it up because it was controversial and what the hell, it will be years before it matters and I’m going to get mine now. So mankind gobbled in a century all the world’s resources that had taken millions of years to store up, and no one on the top gave a damn or listened to all the voices that were trying to warn them, they just let us overproduce and overconsume, until now the oil is gone, the topsoil depleted and washed away, the trees chopped down, the animals extinct, the earth poisoned, and all we have to show for it is seven billion people fighting over the scraps that are left, living a miserable existence.
Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
What a weirdly prescient, yet entirely frustrating book. Written in the 1960s and set in the Distant Future of 1999, Make Room! Make Room! is set in a squalid, over-populated New York city, and deals with everything from peak oil to climate crisis to water rationing to ACAB-style police shootings of minority groups. On the other hand, it is very very definitely written by a middle-class liberal in the style of Malthus, and is grotesquely classist, particular towards the end where Harrison starts wallbanging about birth control and, in particular, poor people “over-breeding” to get government welfare. (And noting this book pre-dates, for example, China’s infamous One Child Policy.)
And, of course, the elephant in this book’s room is capitalism which — for something about over-consumption and resource hoarding by the ultra-wealthy — somehow never warrants even the slightest whiff of a mention . . .