On the pending population reversal (Repost)

I read an interesting comment yesterday, roughly to the effect that the extraordinary increase of the world’s human population that followed the industrial revolution cannot and will not continue.  This will be as unique in human history as was the increase itself.

I don’t think I had ever thought about it before, but the implications are immense.  And the timeline is truly terrifying.

This change will almost certainly take place by 2050 or 2075, at the latest.  That means it will be occurring in my grandchildren’s lifetimes, and, quite likely, even in my son’s.

Perhaps the most obvious implication is economic: the very heart of capitalism is growth.  Economic growth, for sure, but the link between population growth and economic growth is tight and hard to break.  The breaking of it, or the only obvious alternative of mutating to some other system, will surely involve turmoil of unprecedented political and, probably, military upheaval.

I have rarely confronted as confounding a problem as this.  It trivializes the most difficult math I’ve ever done.
I am totally at a loss.

Because of humanity’s decision to avoid any strategy aimed at off planet expansion taken when we first were considering such things back in the sixties, and because of the long timelines required for such expansion in any case, our only options appear to be restricted to this planet alone.

Like I said, I am totally at a loss.  Nothing we are doing presently rises to even a far approximation of what is needed.

All I can say is that my son’s generation, and that of his children, had better get on this problem right away.  They have little time to react and/or adjust.

I guess I could also say that I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be the age that I am, sixty-eight.  By 2050, I’d be 106.  With any luck, I won’t see any of the looming changes, for they look to be horrific.

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2 Responses to On the pending population reversal (Repost)

  1. Hank Raymond says:

    I’ve often wondered what the economic model is for a stable population. I’ve never seen anything written about it. Have any economists put forward a theory/model. Didn’t Adam Smith do it for Capitalism and Karl Marx for Communism? Who’s done it for a stable population? Anyone? How does that work? Do we need a new economist with a new theory?

    • George says:


      Your best bet, I think, is to Google it. My own position on it is probably too biased by my own view to be either reliable or credible (by anyone outside my own head). I doubt you’ll find much that really addresses the issues head-on. Vary good questions though.

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