You know the story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burning, plastic-polluting, calorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario. Such dire population predictions aren’t the stuff of sci-fi; those numbers come from one of the most trusted world authorities, the United Nations.The argument is that once Third World girls get iphone and birth control pills, they will all lead hedonistic lifestyles and not have any kids. Modern capitalism will then die, because it depends on growing economies.
But what if they’re wrong? Not like, off by a rounding error, but like totally, completely goofed?
That’s the conclusion Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker come to in their newest book, Empty Planet, due out February 5th. After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”
No, this is crazy. Japan's population is not growing, and it has a sustainable economy. The rest of the world will have to figure that out, because exponential growth cannot continue for very long.
Any system will be gamed by those who take advantage of it. That is just evolution at work. If a group or nation figures out that it can get a greater share of the world's resources by encouraging their women to have ten kids, then that is what they will do. The Earth will be repopulated by those who play the reproduction game successfully.
Most of the world's problems stem from too many people using too many resources. Cutting back to a population of 1800 would alleviate those problems.