"In 2017, the United States saw the fewest babies born in 30 years, a stat that produced a lot of hand-wringing.
But it turns out things could be worse — a lot worse. We could be Japan, whose unfolding demographic crisis provides some lessons for where America might be headed."
This planet has an increasing number of people of at least 7.5 billion and things seem to be getting worse from some perspectives. Such as "Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation." [theguardian.com]. Would more people result in eating each other instead of less intelligent animals, and many that are better than the human animal. How about eating plants instead of flesh, that is quite an idea.
I do not have answers, but could have many opinions. I think that an increase in the planetary populations is not the answer.
Of course you know how I feel on this one, Victoria. Several years ago we were in Victoria (BC) and I saw an article in one of their papers that talked about the "horrors" of the "Birth Dearth". The usual woe to the economy stuff. Most of Europe is experiencing a negative birth rate (especially Italy) hence the increasing immigration (Parvin's Niece graduated from engineering school in Iran and she was offered a job in Germany, Stuttgart. She was given a job as an Au Pair with a German family for 1 year so she could learn the language and then she would go to a 3 month intensive language course to learn the technical aspects of her job). Despite the fact that human economy is totally dependent on the environment is never mentioned. Nor is it mentioned that a number of economists are pushing a truly sustainable form of economics. Here is one idea: [en.wikipedia.org] The prevailing trend is still run by Cornucopian economists [britannica.com]
Another thing I continue to push is why do we assume that retirees are useless? We can and often contribute a lot by staying active and volunteering. My whole island is what it is through volunteers and I have seen that being true for other groups as the Nature Conservancy (I maintained a volunteer data base for the Seattle branch and we had well over 2,000 volunteers). The Seattle Parks Dept., one of the largest in the country also has a mammoth volunteer force. There is a large group actually dedicated to promoting negative population [npg.org]
Thanks for getting my adrenaline flowing this early in the morning.
To keep a stable population a birth ratio of 2.1 is required. In the developed world it currently averages 1.6 and in South Korea it is less than 1.0. As countries become wealthier the birth rate drops. AI will help but developed countries need immigrants to fill jobs and look after an aging population. Consumerism constantly needs more people so eventually we will need to find another system. Of course we may destroy the ability of the earth to support a human population by then so it may not matter.
A decrease in human population might be the best thing for the planet. Why is there hand wringing when there are 7.5 billion of us on the planet? Sure the economy is going to take a hit but so much of the economy is based on growth of demand for goods and services and in turn growth of the population. I suspect that the problems that are more salient to the long term suvivability of the human species are global warming and removing micro plastics from our food supply.
The fact that fewer babies are being born than replacement rate in Japan and perhaps elsewhere has both good and bad aspects. Humans are causing damage to the environment, including climate change and habitat destruction. Fewer of us would reduce those ill effects. On the other hand, there will be fewer young people to care for the elderly.
Fortunately, technology may help. The Japanese have been developing robots to help people who need it, for example the elderly. Such robots are not yet available, but some are close enough to being useful for that task that I, at 74, will probably be able to have such a robot one day. Currently the biggest disadvantage to such robots is lack of artificial intelligence capable of making robots interact with people with sufficient capability to make them useful. However, AI is improving rapidly, and many scientists believe AI will eclipse human intelligence around 2030.
When human level AI is combined with a robot, then robots will be capable of taking care of the elderly and everyone else too. They will be able do all work required to support the world economy, including growing food and distributing it to everyone wherever they are in the world or off world. They will be able to do the same for clothing, shelter and medical care. Of course, the intelligent robots would also be capable of destroying humanity, living in space or anywhere in the Universe since they only need energy and elements to repair themselves. That is a frightening prospect.
On the other hand, climate change may kill us all, we were incapable of preventing it, and now it seems we will also fail to minimize its effects. Perhaps our only chance is to hope super smart AI will take pity on us, make an army of robots to mediate and eventually reverse climate change, and save our asses.
A case can be made, that one way or another, humanity is domed, and that we will not explore and populate the galaxy. It's called the Fermi Paradox. There are many, perhaps millions, of stars, similar to our Sun that are millions of years older than the Sun. Yet, we can see no evidence of any intelligent civilization. Astronomers are looking, but their instruments are not necessarily good enough. Perhaps such civilizations exist, but we don't have telescopes powerful enough to see them. That argument can be countered.
If an intelligent civilization started to explore space a million years ago, and survived until today, wouldn't they be visible to us, or have come by to visit us? Some people say they have been abducted by aliens, but they cannot show anyone irrefutable proof that they were abducted; they just claim it happened.
The scientific evidence is inconclusive. Enough exoplanets have been discovered to calculate there should be tens of billions of planets similar to Earth in the Milky Way galaxy, and they have existed for billions of years. Unless the spark of life that created Mother Nature is incredibly rare, somewhere in the galaxy at some time in the past, life should have been created on a planet other than Earth. If so, where are the aliens?
Though I am hopeful humanity will survive, thrive and populate the galaxy, the evidence seems to say intelligent life comes and goes before a civilization can escape their planet and populate the galaxy.
Trump is willing to shut down the government to blackmail us into giving him five billion dollars to build the Trump Wall, an unwanted monument to stupidity. It appears he will win that stand-off. Will he threaten nuclear war over some other issue, and pull the trigger on humanity. Will climate change kill us. Will AI kill us. What option do we have except to survive in the face ominous odds, and hope someday we can make a better world, and perhaps, one day, explore and populate others.
The demographic time bomb seems insignificant compared to other issues we face.