Sunday, May 16, 2021

Good News about Birthrates: They're Decreasing.

Worldwide, human population has expanded for decades.

Example: way back in the late 1960s a teacher of mine in grad. school counseled me to focus my attention on China, saying, "China is the power of the future, you know." I continued to focus on the U.S. and African nations. I'm glad I did. But I do acknowledge that my teacher of fifty years ago was right: China is growing in population and in global strength. 

Imagine an American scientist. He engages with Chinese scientists and Chinese students studying science in the U.S. He tells me that Chinese scientists are well-supplied and well funded. Sort of a shock to me to realize that Western countries no longer have a monopoly on science. 

 My own experience provides another relevant observation. For years I've used a Chinese software package called WPS Office. It works like Microsoft Word. WPS Office is a free download. WPS offers this application in many languages besides Chinese--Vietnamese, for example, and English, of course. This vignette makes me suspect that, as China grows in tech. prowess, its manufacturing and its consumption of world resources is increasing year by year. 

Moreover, the Indian economy is growing as well. Though India currently suffers terrible from COVID, its industry hums on. 

Summary: global population growth is increasing at about 80 million (or roughly one percent) per year.  The question I ask is: how many people can the world economy and ecosystem support without serious environmental damage?

Maybe the human psyche itself realizes the danger. In a recent release that totally surprised me, the B.B.C. reports that population growth rate of China is set to slow greatly, resulting in a population decrease! What a turnaround it'd be if that prediction were to come to pass. The article continues: 23 other nations around the world expect their populations to halve by 2023! The article then asks: how can we persuade people to have bear more children? It offers a number of government policies that might work toward the goal of keeping birth rates high. Here's the link for copy and paste: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-57112631 

Why would B.B.C. want to keep birth rates high? Mainly, I suspect, to retain global economic growth. But if all societies lose population simultaneously, economic strength would occur in proportion to population loss and shifts of power among nations would be minimal. So maybe China, other societies facing population shrinkage, and global citizens everywhere should welcome the coming population drop if and when it actually happens. 

Economic growth might decline in such a way that per capita economic wealth would maintained. That is the policy goal I'd recommend. 

Summary:  Personally, I've lived with eye-popping growth of the human population throughout my entire lifetime to date. Personally, I would welcome a slowdown in human population growth--even a decrease--because the health of the planet in general--of ecosystem itself--will face less threatening increases in harmful pollution rates, for example. It's a huge problem, well beyond my skill to offer a strong opinion perhaps. But in general, I personally think future generations will enjoy better lives if the human population does shift from annual increases to actual declines. The twin goal of "Growing green" (environmental recovery and economic stability--the broad theme of this blog-site) will require less consumption of resources, hopefully because consumers decrease in number but not in wealth and well-being.

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