The human population is stabilizing - even shrinking?

good news for the planet - a new study suggests half the countries of the world have birth rates that show a population starting to decline . . .
Pretty much irrelevant unless those countries enact net-ZPG or net-0-migration immigration policies and only partly relevant even then. The half where that is NOT the case are more to the point. Those are the ones whose fecundity is passed on culturally or genetically to a larger fraction of the next generation.

If, for example, you succeed in suppressing birth rate by persuading people that abstaining from reproduction is the moral course, you are simply breeding for people who can't be persuaded or don't care. Last I checked, we are not being overrun by Skoptsy. Whatever environmental factor you tweak, natural selection will work counter to it.
World Population Clock: 7.7 Billion People (2018) - Worldometers
71 million more people so far this year, which is more than the entire population of over 90% of nations.
Much more to the point.
It might give the planet a chance
It would if it actually happened. But I fear the opening post is naively optimistic. Kudos for making the point though & keep on preaching. It's the only sermon that can save us from planetary disaster. It apalls me, that even in the SF community, so few recognize how tragic our failure to curb the growth in human population is, how much we've already lost because of it, and how much it still is likely to cost us in the future. I fear it is a crucial part of the complex of developments that will constitute our Great Filter moment. Niven & Barnes' Saturn's Race is a much under-appreciated novel touching on this. In it one of the characters remarks, "The ghost of Asimov haunts us still." Yeah, damn straight.
Can a global economy function with a falling or static population?
Of course. What can't survive in its present form are the ridiculous Ponzi schemes politicians have used to buy support from the well-meaning gullible and those who simply don't care about the future. Not only can "a global economy" (actually you can just say "people") "survive" a ZPG regime - they can prosper. On a per capita basis, we should do much better actually.
No, not on the "perpetual growth with no limits" model...
I presume that's not meant literally, because unless you want to resurrect a Hoylean CC cosmology, then the impossiblility of "perpetual growth with no limits" is so obvious that it is pointless to note it. Nor would the rate of population growth have anything to do with it.

So I presume you meant that Ponzi schemes reach a limit when you run out of fresh marks (as in children forever outnumbering parents), in which case you are absolutely correct.

But some might interpret that to imply that a rising Net World Product per capita (roughly equivalent to "standard of living") requires a continuously increasing population - but that's hogwash, as even a rudimentary study of economics will reveal.
 
If, for example, you succeed in suppressing birth rate by persuading people that abstaining from reproduction is the moral course, you are simply breeding for people who can't be persuaded or don't care.

Bingo. With hindsight, the post-WWII years have been a huge eugenics experiment to see what happens when you take money from the k-selected population so they can't afford to have kids, and give it to the r-selected population so they have even more kids.

I'd say it hasn't exactly been a great success. Except for politicians and people who work for the welfare state.

And long-term disastrous, because AI and automation will eliminate any economic demand for those people. At which point you end up with an ever-shrinking minority who produce wealth and an ever-growing population who expect that shrinking minority to keep them alive.

It apalls me, that even in the SF community, so few recognize how tragic our failure to curb the growth in human population is, how much we've already lost because of it, and how much it still is likely to cost us in the future.

Population growth was inevitable in the West, because power came from industrial production, and industrial production required more and more people to work in the factories to support that power. Countries which bred faster--or had mass immigration--had more people who could work in the factories to produce more stuff which gave them more power than their neighbours who didn't.

Not so inevitable in the third world, but the West has worked hard to ensure third world countries could increase their population to levels that are unsustainable without Western finance and technology.
 
I had not heard of this notion, and frankly it sounds rather callous. (No disrespect to you EMG, obviously you were just re-iterating)
...take money from the k-selected population so they can't afford to have kids, and give it to the r-selected population so they have even more kids.
It is interesting to note however that in less developed countries the fecundity is greater. The two notions that form in my mind when taking this into consideration are one - there are more limited choices of "entertainment" (for lack of a better word) leading the less fortunate to procreate more often, and two - more highly educated societies most likely plan families more carefully since they can conceive of investing more in their offspring. In no way am I trying to degrade, demoralize or suggest a lower intelligence level in those who are less well off; I think it is just that we are products of our environments.
So I applaud the efforts of those who are bringing family planning programs to developing countries... I'm just not convinced that it isn't too little too late.
 
It bugs you that im making an extrapolation ? Give me break ! Did you happened to pay attention to the fact that I used the word Suggests? Japan has Issues and serious ones and not just fact that some men the ae not leaving their room.

Japan could mitigate the problem of falling birthrate by increasing immigration , But so far , they are unwilling to do that now or in the forceable future.

Calm down, Baylor. Yes, you said "suggests"...you also said you reckoned that Japan was facing "eventual total societal collapse". Strong stuff!

I'm wondering really why Japan is being picked out here. You're making an extrapolation, you say...well, the US has falling fertility rates and (almost uniquely) a rising suicide rate (see latest edition of The Economist): so is it headed for collapse too? Mental health trends among young people are pretty bad everywhere in the developed world, certainly here in the UK - is that also a harbinger of societal collapse?

Just seems to me that Japan is being judged by a redundant model - that there have to be more and more people, more and more production, more and more goods etc - when indications are we seriously need to rethink said model and maybe think about what Japan is getting right. Before we all collapse.

Not meaning to spark anything off here. I just find so much to get depressed about, seems like it would be nice not to have to worry about falling world fertility and even to think these might be a Good Thing.
 
It is interesting to note however that in less developed countries the fecundity is greater.

It is an interesting question as to whether r-selected populations are poor and backward because they don't invest in the future, or whether poor and backward societies result in an r-selected population because it's hard to invest in the future in those societies.

Either way, the West has been so successful because of the k-selected minority, who were happy to start projects that they wouldn't see the benefits from, but their kids would. As the k-selected population shrinks and the r-selected grows, the West is going into a steep decline that grows steeper all the time.

Edit: I'm not implying that either kind of people are 'bad', BTW. They're two different survival techniques that have been successful at different times in history and are still successful in many parts of the world today. The problem is that, like so much of ingrained human behaviour, programming in our DNA which worked when we lived in caves is not compatible with the world we live in today. And it's exacerbated by mass democracy with both sides of the political spectrum wanting to breed more of their supporters and restrict breeding of their opponents.
 
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Japan could mitigate the problem of falling birthrate by increasing immigration , But so far , they are unwilling to do that now or in the forceable future.

That's rather like mitigating the problem of having AIDS by getting cancer.

Politicians trying to mitigate falling birthrates by importing millions of incompatible foreigners has proven to be a much greater problem than falling birthrates. Especially when most of the jobs they expect those immigrants to do are about to go away.

Japan has big problems, but they're mostly cultural problems that the Japanese can solve themselves, if they're willing to do so. The bigger problem is too many vested interests who don't want to solve those problems.

And history has shown time and again that importing foreign kids to replace the ones you're not having simply leads to civil war and, likely, social collapse. Rome didn't collapse because of their declining birthrate, it collapsed because they imported millions of barbarians.
 
Calm down, Baylor. Yes, you said "suggests"...you also said you reckoned that Japan was facing "eventual total societal collapse". Strong stuff!

Everywhere is heading for societal collapse. Everything we were raised to believe is going away in the next fifty years, and much of it in the next twenty.

We're living through the end of the industrial era, and politicians continue to push industrial-era policies like high birthrates and mass immigration when they're already obsolete. Most people are too blinkered to even realize that things can be different: look at the arguments for 'Universal Basic Income' for example, where non-thinkers say 'but companies won't be able to sell things when 99% of us are unemployed, so they'll give us money to buy stuff from them because otherwise they'll go out of business.' They literally cannot conceive of people just shutting down factories and walking away, because their entire lives have taught them that you must have factories, because industry.

So they're going to be kind of shocked when the factory owners build bunkers full of robots, AIs and local manufacturing technology and no longer give two hoots about selling cheap tat to tattooed basement-dwellers.

AI, automation and local manufacturing make current society untenable. And things that are untenable don't last for long.

I'm wondering really why Japan is being picked out here.

Japan is merely an extreme example of what's happening across the West. For example, MGTOW in America is a mere fad compared to the 'herbivore men' of Japan, who have no interest in working all hours of the day like their fathers did in order to bring home money for their wives to spend.

The Japanese would prefer to automate the work those men aren't doing than import foreigners, but it seems many companies would prefer cheap immigrant labour to expensive machines. And importing that cheap labour will just increase social conflict and make things worse.

You're making an extrapolation, you say...well, the US has falling fertility rates and (almost uniquely) a rising suicide rate (see latest edition of The Economist): so is it headed for collapse too?

Absent a miracle, I'd say America is less than ten years from civil war. I've seen articles claiming the country is as divided as it was during the runup to the last civil war, and I can't see any nice way that's going to resolve itself. Maybe if Trump just tells any state that wants to secede to do so... but even then you'll have vast areas reliant on Federal taxes which would see their economy collapse when the productive areas secede.

Ultimately, though, all big things are going to collapse, because they're products of the industrial era and make no sense in a post-industrial economy. Supernational bodies like the EU will collapse to nations, nations to provinces, provinces to tribes. There's simply no reason to let people hundreds or thousands of miles away tell you what to do when you can make pretty much everything you need yourself with help from your army of robots and AIs.

Still, I'm just an SF writer. I may be wrong. But I can't see how.
 
Most people are too blinkered to even realize that things can be different: look at the arguments for 'Universal Basic Income' for example, where non-thinkers say 'but companies won't be able to sell things when 99% of us are unemployed, so they'll give us money to buy stuff from them because otherwise they'll go out of business.' They literally cannot conceive of people just shutting down factories and walking away, because their entire lives have taught them that you must have factories, because industry.

So they're going to be kind of shocked when the factory owners build bunkers full of robots, AIs and local manufacturing technology and no longer give two hoots about selling cheap tat to tattooed basement-dwellers.
A lot of countries are already experimenting/planning for this eventuality. As usual, in the USA, they shout, "Not here!" So we're behind - again. And procrastinating on this one could be devastating to a lot of households.
 
A lot of countries are already experimenting/planning for this eventuality. As usual, in the USA, they shout, "Not here!" So we're behind - again. And procrastinating on this one could be devastating to a lot of households.

Why do you think the 1% are going to pay for the other 99% of us to sit around doing nothing all day?

The only way I ever see UBI happening is if the people who receive it agree to be sterilized, thereby ensuring the population of UBI-recipients shrinks to zero over a generation or two. But an army of killer robots will cost the 1% far less, and solve their problem much faster.
 
That's rather like mitigating the problem of having AIDS by getting cancer.

Politicians trying to mitigate falling birthrates by importing millions of incompatible foreigners has proven to be a much greater problem than falling birthrates. Especially when most of the jobs they expect those immigrants to do are about to go away.

Japan has big problems, but they're mostly cultural problems that the Japanese can solve themselves, if they're willing to do so. The bigger problem is too many vested interests who don't want to solve those problems.

And history has shown time and again that importing foreign kids to replace the ones you're not having simply leads to civil war and, likely, social collapse. Rome didn't collapse because of their declining birthrate, it collapsed because they imported millions of barbarians.

Some projection suggest that the Japanese birthrate is not even meeting replacement level and that does bode well for the long term survival of the country.

As t the Roman, part the problems it the Romans did a very poor job of integrating the Barbarians that they allowed was they treated them like 3rd class citizens , this was bound to bread a certain amount of resentment.
 
Why do you think the 1% are going to pay for the other 99% of us to sit around doing nothing all day?

The only way I ever see UBI happening is if the people who receive it agree to be sterilized, thereby ensuring the population of UBI-recipients shrinks to zero over a generation or two. But an army of killer robots will cost the 1% far less, and solve their problem much faster.
Who do they continue making money from?

One thing we've learned about rich folk: They always want more.
 
Who do they continue making money from?

One thing we've learned about rich folk: They always want more.

What was it that Gordon Gecko said? Oh yes " Charity is good" :whistle:
 
I'm surprised that this thread has been allowed to continue. It sounds a lot like the things we used to discuss when we were allowed to talk politics.

-----

It seems to me that in this thread we've consistently ignored a couple of verifiable facts and also ignored historical precedent. I'm old enough to have read The Population Bomb when it first came out. In some ways it was not unique because others were saying there were too many people and the world could not feed them at least a century before, but there are fewer malnourished today by percentage than at any previous time in our history. The doom sayers were wrong about a horrible future then because they could not imagine any way the human race would produce enough food, but we did and currently it is getting easier by the year. The doom sayers might be wrong again even in the long run. Second, in concert with the original post in this chain, the birth rate is plummeting in a lot of the developing world. It is almost a one to one correlation between the growth of education for women and the decrease in the average live births per thousand in a country.

For a more clear statistical view of what is happening in the world read Steven Pinker. especially his latest book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, humanism and Progress. I've enjoyed this book even though he is an atheist and takes some fairly strong stands against religion.
 
Everywhere is heading for societal collapse. Everything we were raised to believe is going away in the next fifty years, and much of it in the next twenty.

Wow, this has turned into a cheerful thread (not).

The doom sayers were wrong about a horrible future then because they could not imagine any way the human race would produce enough food

Yes, Malthus originally came up with this in 1798. He was wrong...but maybe not forever. Then again, usually the doom sayers ARE wrong, while the big, terrible events that do happen are unpredicted. Anyway, I'm trying to convince myself not to worry too much because even if we are indeed doomed I'll probably be worrying about the wrong version so what is the point?

For a more clear statistical view of what is happening in the world read Steven Pinker. especially his latest book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, humanism and Progress.

Thanks for the recommendation, Parson -I'd like to read something optimistic.
 
We'll survive. It's going to be a crowded, dirty and difficult world, but the human parasites will still be here - for a very long time.
 
Getting back on topic and focusing on the future...

I was thinking about this topic last night - a declining population means that cities could see their populations shrink yet the wider spread of buildings remain. Some cities could even become abandoned through this process alone, let alone others lost due to sea-level rises.

Interestingly enough, there is an actual period of European history when something similar happened - during the 4th century of the Roman Empire, in Britain at least. The process probably began during the the 3rd, but the result was Roman towns saw their populations shrink and many were abandoned, with a mass building of villas for managing farms in the countryside.
 
I don't know what it's like in Britain, or Europe in general, but that very thing has been on the rise since the huge recession around 2009 here in the US. From this article: The Disturbing Rise of Housing Vacancy in U.S. Cities - CityLab

"The number of vacant units has declined over the course of the recovery, but there are still more today than there were before 2005. Housing units that are considered temporarily vacant—that are neither on the market, being held for future occupancy, or being used seasonally—have increased by more than 50 percent, from 3.7 million in 2005 to 5.8 million in 2016."

Total Nonseasonal Vacant Units in the United States, 2005–2016 (in Thousands)

abandoned.jpg


Edit: I have witnessed this first hand in many places, as I have had to move around in the US just to keep working.
 

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