Different day, same Malthusian bullshit. These people can only think of humans as net negative parasites on the planet, rather than individual agents with a positive expected value to society. Density is GOOD — it leads to cross-pollination of ideas and the advancement of the world. Yes, the planet is on a path that will require us to eventually get smarter about resource consumption. Advocating fewer people on Earth is the most harmful & naive way to solve that problem.
If your life raft is sinking, do you try to patch it, or do you throw someone overboard? Your instinctual answer says a lot about the type of person you are.
[edit: I'd remove the last paragraph if it weren't intellectually dishonest to do so. I feel like it's causing people to miss my main point. It was written more out of anger than reason. Please ignore.]
We are currently experiencing a human-induced mass extinction event and reduction of biodiversity comparable to the largest natural catastrophes in the planet. The way things are going, by the end of the century most of the large mammalian predators will be definitely extinct, and if carbon emissions are not reduced by the end of the century, by which we should become a carbon-negative society, the oceans will not be able to support most of the base of its food chain.
I question your valuation of human society above the base of the biological systems that support its very existence. A large population living in a humongous wasteland is of dubious utility for its inhabitants.
I reckon you haven't been able to see the true impacts of humans on most of the ecosystems in the planet. Ultimately, I think you're confusing density with population; a large population is not a requirement for a dense population. Furthermore, the percentage of the population that contributes to innovation is a very, very restricted subset of it.
Nobody is being thrown overboard. The article is just pointing out that it may not necessarily be catastrophic if population growth slows or even reverses for a time. We're all just speculating, whether you agree or disagree.
In support of the article, slower population growth would reduce resource consumption. Rampant population growth would speed up the resource depletion process. As certain crucial resources become more scarce, conflict is likely to follow. It'd only be a matter of time before large scale war followed, perhaps leading to an extinction event.
There are definite positives and negatives to slowing growth rates, but I think there are probably more positives if we're talking about a gradual slowing (as opposed to a sudden tanking). We can do a lot more with a lot less today. Many of us don't need massive families anymore, and that's OK.
Fewer people means fewer ideas. Resource consumption is a problem with our current technological base - but it has ALWAYS been a problem, and a solution has always been developed that results in higher overall quality of life. Agriculture was the technology that allowed more than a few hundred thousand humans to live on the planet. Humanity has a pretty good track record of coming up with the next tech in plenty of time.
Panglossian? Maybe. But I'd rather be Pangloss (syphilis and all) than a misanthrope like Ehrlich or Malthus.
Good ideas come from a very small segment of the population. Just having more people doesn't mean we'll have more philosophy, science or art, except from scaling. If you want more creative people, then make that your goal.
Overpopulation destroys quality of life. You can't fix that by throwing more technology at the problem. Technology isn't going to make more nice beachfront property accessible and affordable for middle class family vacations. Technology isn't going to make more high grade wild tuna, or quiet walks in empty woods.
With an ageing population you need someone to "work" in order to cover state-subsidised health care, housing, unemployment, pensions and other living costs for those that are still alive but not working.
And technology can absolutely solve a lot of problems. Being able to grow commercial quantities of meat in laboratories will change the world overnight. As will revolutionising public transportation, power grids, storage technologies, cars etc.
A contracting population is clearly a big problem for the capital class. It's bad for stock and bond holders, employers of labor, politicians, and I guess people who made poor retirement preparations. But I don't buy that it's a problem for workers Joe and Jane Blow. They eventually get cheap, high quality housing, and are more inclined to start a family.
Anyway, I also think the various futurist techno fantasies are wrong. Unless liquid thorium reactors or such-like come online next month we're entering an age of permanently escalating energy and food costs. Technology still runs on energy. The Jetsons future of electric cars and soylent for growing billions is not going to happen. The future for most is bicycles with rice and beans.
Yeah, I got mine. Fuck all those foreigners whose ancestors didn't get here fast enough.
If you're concerned about the purity of your nation there's no need to be a stereotypical liberal about it either. Allow me to present a policy package that costs the state basically nothing and improves the lives of many not currently within the borders of your state.
1. Move from jus soli to jus sanguinus; no one without a parent who is a citizen of the state automatically becomes a citizen.
2. Any foreigner convicted of any crime gets deported. One may wish to have different visa categories for foreigners of a higher class/who have more money. The big thing is that it be clear that begging, petty theft and homelessness are deportable offences.
3. After five years you can either go home with all the money you paid in taxes/social security minus an actuarial average of your cost to the state or you can stay and forfeit it. South Korea does something roughly similar and it works pretty well at discouraging settlement.
If you're feeling really humanitarian you can allow third generation non-citizen residents over 30 an opportunity to naturalise.
In Stanislaw Lem's book the main character lived on Greenland warmed up from space to allow subtropical climate. I guess this idea will cause any environmentally-aware hipster from California to have a heart attack.
Russia has infinite resources of growing food which is only constrained by the fact that it's not very profitable. Nobody it the world wants food so badly to pay for in same kind of money they cough up for oil.
Food is not the constraint, neither is living space.
Russia doesn't grow an infinite amount of food, because most of the rest of the world can supply itself with food. If the USA's domestic food production dropped to zero, growing food in Russia would get profitable very quickly.
You try to patch it, but it also makes a lot of sense to stop bringing more people onboard. Lowering birth rates is an example of the latter, not of throwing people overboard.
How much density is needed to make progress? At which point too much density becomes a danger and what kind of danger?
I guess that there might be already some answers to these question. And in my opinion it IS important that we start talking about this. Because the only discussion that I hear until now is that many countries have not enough children (e.g. Japan, Russia, Germany, Italy - just to name few that I have seen in print media in Europe) which is seen as a danger. But talking about socially and psychologically positive solutions how to better distribute population density - nobody is speaking about this. I guess that one of the reasons is because we still think in national boundaries. But this is not the only one. I think the deeper reasons might be more on an instinctive level? I do not know, but I find it good that we start talking about un-growth of population instead just having a taboo.
But, yeah, patch the raft. And stop having 4 kids.
I'm not sure that's as clear as you think it is. There's a number of issues and confounds which mean that simply plotting age vs achievement can be very misleading. Check out "Age and Outstanding Achievement: What do We Know After a Century of Research?" http://www.resources.emartin.net/blog/docs/AgeAchievement.pd... , Simonton 1988
How pretentious to define what people should do with their lives and how long they should live based on some loosely defined "progress". Society doesn't have a moral obligation of pumping out geniuses. People live because that's a natural right.
Besides, not many things in life are more valuable than sitting down and having a chat with someone 70, 80, 90 years old. It's wisdom you won't find on Google.
Is that a social or physiological phenomenon?
I always assumed the great thinkers became less prolific as they voluntarily moved into other stages of life, like finding a mate and starting a family, and hence had less time to commit to intellectual pursuits.
It could be that creativity doesn't have as much to do with age and health as we think, and is more related to being new in a fascinating field. If we live longer we'd have more opportunities to be new with a large number of years in front of us. You can see this effect in the small when you get excited about a new programming language or industry.
Probably lots of other effects on creativity beyond mere youth. Said the old guy.
I'm partial to the idea that geniuses have one or two great ideas in them per lifetime, regardless of how long that life lasts. Given 150 years of life, I don't think Picasso would invent cubism then something else.
Exactly the point of my second paragraph. With enough years in front, it can be worth starting completely over again, and gain the possibility of that childlike wonder and enthusiasm. Maybe school -> genius career -> kids and married life -> school -> completely new genius career.
With a long enough healthy life to go, it can be worthwhile to start completely over, rather than hunkering down and preparing for the decline.
EDIT: Anyway, y'all better hope so, because you're all mostly going to live much longer than we elders do, whether you like it or not. Stay sharp.
> a lifetime of preconceptions, biases, attitudes, conclusions, and dogma.
You left out wisdom, experience and perception.
1) If you don't have enough (read: a lot of) money then don't have children. If you're not ready to spend all your time on children while still making enough money then don't have children. If you're not the model family then don't have children. If we think you're not the best parent possible then don't have children. You better not have your children too late and certainly not too early. And yes, we're going to take your child away the first moment we suspect something from above violated.
2) People are so damn selfish, they don't understand that their prime happiness is their children, they spend their lives on themself and so we're all going to die as a nation and as an economy.
Surprisingly enough we often see both at the same time in one individual. More often than not.
I am told BART was approved by a whole lot of voters who liked the idea of everybody else using BART, so they could have less traffic on the roads. Nobody was voting for BART so they could use it themselves. (Or so the story goes).
Imagine you have half voters over 65.
Why would they care about innovation or ecology or whatever common good? They would only care about getting their cut of social security. This way they can easily throw a society off the cliff if it happens tomorrow. They don't care about tomorrow.
Yeah, and they also like to tell youth how to live their life. Especially in the areas themself can no longer do anything. This can lead to repressive and suffocating societal changes.
2. A lot of the reasons for the high cost of living has to do with protectionism. For example, the rice farmer lobby benefits from very high tariffs on imported rice. Most of the rice farmers are old men, so more young people (or the existing young people being more politically engaged) could actually help fix this problem.
Without a fresh supply of young workers, but with all the factories/tools/capital/housing that supported a larger population, the benefit of incremental workers becomes gigantic.
The winning regions in such a scenario would be those that welcome massive immigration to maintain production.
Even assuming some xenophobic fear arising from the uniqueness of the zero-fertility situation, nations like the UK or US, that already have the benefit of worldwide adoption of its language (and cultural exports), and functioning beachhead immigrant communities of all types, would in such a scenario be most likely to recognize that immigrants could soften the pains of a population-shortage.
Keeping immigrants out would require even more of the dwindling population wasted on 'guard labor', and even more empty buildings/communities and idle factories. And to the extent that there are culture clashes – there's now plenty of space to congregate in voluntarily-segregated communities, but still within the same national boundaries for easier trade.
So while I loved a lot about the 'Children of Men' story/movie, its economics were all wrong.
"Japan has the world's oldest population, with a median age of 46 years, an average lifespan of 84, and a quarter of the population over 65. "
That is a very old population!
There's a good TedTalks video on the subject. There's also a good book called Common Wealth written by Jeff Sachs that covers this.
Ziss is unspeakable! Ziss is an unmitigated disaster for corporate profits!
GDP uber alles!
Ve must force japan to take in immigrants! For ze sake of corporate profits! GDP uber alles!