The Himalayan Kingdom best known for its concept of "Gross National Happiness."
Having lots of kids is great for the success of the species. But there's a hitch.
Is that such a bad thing?
- According to new research at the University of Washington, a significant population decline will begin after 2064.
- The reasons include more access to contraception and better education for girls and women.
- Many countries will have to grapple with the social and financial consequences of their decline.
Mapping global population and the future of the world | The Economist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2cc6601e6772f8d94e215e973ba61fe"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ur77lDetI9Q?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200715150444.htm" target="_blank">comments</a> on the study, writing, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It offers a vision for radical shifts in geopolitical power, challenges myths about immigration, and underlines the importance of protecting and strengthening the sexual and reproductive rights of women. The 21st century will see a revolution in the story of our human civilisation. Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence."</p><p>Indeed, the populations that will shrink the fastest include Asia and central and eastern Europe. Japan, which has been <a href="https://qz.com/1295721/the-japanese-population-is-shrinking-faster-than-every-other-big-country/" target="_blank">grappling with this reality</a> for years, will drop from 128 million in 2017 to 60 million in 2100; Thailand, from 71 to 35 million; Portugal, 11 to 5 million; and South Korea, 53 to 27 million. </p><p>The study focuses on expansion, though it doesn't discuss how quickly we've reached current levels. After 350,000 years of <em>Homo sapiens</em> on Earth, we hit one billion people in 1804. It took 123 years to add another billion; 33 years to get to three billion; 14 years to four billion. If we hit eight billion by the end of this decade, we'll have quadrupled our population in just a century. </p><p>Those are unsustainable numbers. As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, supply chain management and health care systems in many countries are broken, especially in America. Thanks to the outsourcing of labor and our for-profit health care model, income inequality is breaking our society. Adding more humans to our population during a pandemic, with seniors being the most vulnerable population, should give us pause.</p>
Stein Emil Vollset, et al.<p>Of course, procreation is more a biological process than a philosophical one. Survivability is the goal of every species. That said, we've mitigated the potential damage of overcrowding by contraception and education, as the study suggests. Either we need to more fairly distribute resources around the world—tough to imagine in a capitalist system—or pay the price for birthing too many humans. The latter could be quelled if we have fewer children.</p><p>Stein Emil Vollset, Professor of Global Health at IHME and lead author of the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200715150444.htm" target="_blank">weighs</a> the costs and benefits:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While population decline is potentially good news for reducing carbon emissions and stress on food systems, with more old people and fewer young people, economic challenges will arise as societies struggle to grow with fewer workers and taxpayers, and countries' abilities to generate the wealth needed to fund social support and health care for the elderly are reduced."</p><p>The researchers believe immigration will be an even more pressing issue in the coming decades. This might mean less surface area being inhabited as people crowd into environmentally and financially robust regions—a forthcoming reality due to climate change anyway.</p><p>In conclusion, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar at University College London comments on the study, noting, "The distribution of working-age populations will be crucial to whether humanity prospers or withers." Depending on your age, you might not have to worry about this, but our children and grandchildren certainly will. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
- Astronaut Garrett Reisman took in countless indescribably beautiful views while he lived in space. But most shocking, he says, was observing the thinness of Earth's atmosphere.
- You can compare the thickness of the atmosphere to the diameter of Earth to the skin on an apple, or the shell of an egg. It's incredibly thin and shows just how seemingly fragile our planet is.
- But to put this into perspective, whereas the atmosphere reaches a height of 300,000 feet from Earth's surface, the deepest part of the ocean only reaches 35,000 feet, ten times thinner than Earth's atmosphere. Everything we experience on Earth, from sea to sky, exists on just a tiny slice of precious surface coating.
Coronavirus has given us the opportunity to reframe and rethink society from its foundation.
- There have been many lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis. According to Acumen founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, one of the primary lessons has been that humans are interdependent creatures in an interconnected world.
- "The coronavirus has laid bare the gaping wounds of our society that had grown too individualistic over the last 30-50 years and reinforced our interdependence in the most profound ways," Novogratz says, adding that the current situation has given us a chance to rethink and rebuild society from a new moral framework.
- Placing humanity and community at the center, focusing more on helping the poor and vulnerable, and engaging more in collaboration instead of competition is how our post-COVID-19 society will succeed.