The Global Population is Imploding, It is a Disaster, and the Guys that See it Are Clueless
Imagine a man in ancient Mesopotamia that somehow figured out how to mine iron ore and make steel. Then that same man figures out how to forge, machine and craft that steel into what functioned and worked like perfect German Luger. That same person figured out how to make gun powder and create bullets. After completing this amazing accomplishment, he announces to the world his discovery. He calls it a hammer and uses but butt of the gun to smash nuts and grind grain.The man missed the central significance of his own discovery in spectacular fashion.
Reading Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson feels like it belongs in this category. These guys have done very nice work showing what few others are seeing. They show why the UN and other overpopulation alarmists are spectacularly wrong. Doing great research, they demonstrate that, far from going a future population bomb - where mass starvation and crowding lead to catastrophe, the world is actually very close to leveling off in population (in the next 50 years or so) and then shrinking at fairly rapid rates from there.
They have done research on China, India, subsaharan Africa, as well as Europe and the US. And their conclusion is that everywhere around the world, fertility rates are plummeting much faster than the UN suggests. Within just a few decades, most countries around the world have dropped from families of 5 or 6 kids to families with 1 or 2 ... or zero. They note how even in traditional countries like Kenya, Brazil, India and Mexico urbanization, the widespread availability of birth control and pop culture have led people to stop having large families. Almost everywhere around the globe - from Russia, to China, to Singapore, a poll of women will yield the result: the ideal family size is 1 or 2 kids. Everyone globally thinks this. And this attitude is quickly becoming reality.
Humans globally are not replacing themselves.
You might ask why this is a problem but ask someone from Japan (who has had fertility rates far below replacement for decades) and you will see how much this hurts the economy. Having a ton of old people are barely any young people can create a true humanitarian crisis. Japan is a rich country but what happens if the country is poor and they stop having kids? Many countries like China and Mexico are now in this situation.
The authors understand the issues. They understand the fertility rates are plummeting. They understand how much this can hurt humanity. They tell the story of how Japan stopped innovating right when they stopped having a young population. They get this much.
But they miss so much too. Sooooooo much.
What is causing the drop in population? They answer this. The answer, they say, is secularization, feminism, and birth control. But.... they love these things. These are all good things! Right in the final chapters of their book they celebrate that US black fertility rates dropping is a sign that things are good! They continually bemoan the "patriarchy" in (you name the country) that once caused women to have high birth rates. They continually celebrate the new access to birth control and abortion. They shame backwards nations that still "oppress and control" women by pressuring them to have more babies.
So.... the causes for the population drop, according to the authors, are all fantastic things (affluence, feminism, and secularization).
But... they realize the drop itself is bad. So... what to do?
Immigration! That is the solution they push throughout this book. If only the US and Europe would open the floodgates of immigration they can maintain their economies and avoid the negative consequences of the population bust.
But this brings the obvious question... if the global population drops and immigrants are the only solution, where do you get the immigrants? If Mexico's fertility rate drops below replacement, what happens then? Immigration at best is a temporary slowing of the problem and also a zero sum game (if the US gets people then other nations lose people). The authors who do such an excellent job of identifying and quantifying the problem - like the man who invented the ancient gun - then do such a terrible job of identifying the solution.
So... let me take a better stab at the solution. Let's recognize that that causes are actually the problem not great things (like the authors think). Maybe secularization is a bad thing. Religious people tend to have more kids by far than non-religious people. Maybe we should stop having a media, education system, and political structure that undermines religion at every turn is a bad idea? Maybe feminism is a bad thing? The idea that women should be taught to pursue careers over family and personal fulfillment over generational procreation is a bad thing? Maybe the Catholic church is right and birth control is a bad thing? Maybe abortion is a bad thing? Maybe pop culture has been irresponsible and promoting the wrong things?
The Amish (anti-feminist, deeply religious, not urban, not pro-birth control, etc) have somewhere around 5.5 kids per woman. Maybe we will all be Amish soon? It is shocking that the people that came up with the whole idea of evolution seem to miss the importance of procreation in the survival and thriving of a species. If the population of bees globally is shrinking the solution is not to move the bees around. Its to encourage bees to keep procreating.
Religion is a huge factor. Religious women have more kids.The more religious someone is the more kids they have. Maybe every society should encourage the spread, growth, and cultural impact of religion? Maybe instead of encouraging the temporary fix of immigration, we should stop making a de facto atheism the official religion of public schools?
Or maybe it doesn't matter.
Maybe idiots that think feminism, secularization and birth control are great things will simply cease to be. Maybe, ironically, evolution will take care of things.
Maybe the religious will inherit the earth.