William Vogt was an American ecologist and ornithologist. His work influenced many other fields of science.
Vogt was born in Mineola, New York in 1902. As a boy, he was fascinated by books, and his reading led him to develop an
interest in the field of ornithology. He graduated from St. Stephens (now Bard) College in New York.
Vogt took a job as assistant editor at the New York Academy of Sciences. He went on to become curator of the Jones Beach State Bird Sanctuary. Later, he worked for the National Association of Audubon Societies, edited Bird Love magazine, and authored numerous works, including Thirst for Land. This book focused on water conservation. Vogt also edited Audubon's Birds of America.
Vogt devoted considerable effort to the examination of population growth and the depletion of natural resources. This research took years, as Vogt expanded his studies beyond America into other countries, including Chile. During this period, Vogt served as chief of the Pan American Union, working to develop solutions for the growing problem of scarce resources.
The culmination of this work was Vogt's
book, Road to Survival, which was published in 1948. It closely examined the relationship between food supplies and world population. A very popular book, Road to Survival became an inspiration to generations of ecologists, including Paul R. Ehrlich.
Because of this book, Vogt earned various grants that enabled him to continue his studies, this time in Scandinavia. After returning to the United States, he became director of Planned
Parenthood Federation of America. This organization continues to work to limit population growth.
Vogt also became increasingly interested in conservation, and he served as secretary of the Conservation Foundation, which recently became a part of the World Wildlife Fund. William Vogt died in 1968.