My whole life, I’ve been warned about the impending doom of the population explosion. Movies like Soylent Green, where human beings were such a cheap commodity that they were scooped up into dump trucks when they rioted for food, didn’t help. I was expecting starvation, overcrowding, wars, pollution, misery, and death.
This threat of decreasing nature, increasing growth is one of the many reasons I chose to be childfree. I have absolutely no regrets about that to this day. (Sorry to disappoint the hundreds of people who said, “You’ll change your mind,” over the course of my life.)
But I just read an article that gives me renewed hope for the planet, if not for humanity. Entitled “As birth rates fall, animals prowl in our abandoned ‘ghost villages’”, it gives a projection of the future that many of us could never have imagined. It seems that our population growth has slowed and will soon be in decline.
A lot of that has to do with women becoming more educated and empowered and having more access to birth control and delaying marriages. According to the article, in order to maintain population stability, each woman has to average 2.1 children. But in many places, this is no longer happening. Not even close.
Birthrates are actually down to 0.84 children per woman in South Korea. They’re in extreme decline in Japan and Germany, too. It’s down to 1.65 children per woman in England and Wales, and 1.37 children per woman in Scotland. The birthrate is below sustainability in Thailand and Brazil, too. Iran is so freaked out by their birthrate that they are preventing their state clinics from giving vasectomies or handing out birth control.
The article goes on to say that our global population is now 7.67 billion, and at our current rate, we should hit our peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, and drop back down to 8.79 billion by 2100. It said that by that time, the populations of Spain, Italy, and Ukraine will be half of their current number, and China should be down by 48 percent.
This kind of decline will put a strain on economies, as the average age of populations goes up. There will eventually be more houses than people to put in them. That’s already the case in Japan. (Glad my dear husband isn’t a realtor there!)
As people are moving to the cities and more rural areas become abandoned, forests and wildlife are returning. Bears, wolves, lynx, and wolverines are rebounding. Wild boar and deer are also on the increase.
In Southern Spain, there are now more than 3,000 ghost towns up in the hills. The forest area has tripled in that country since the 1900’s. As there are fewer people to feed, there will be fewer farms, and those fields quickly become overgrown.
And this article makes no mention of the pandemic. As of this writing, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus page, 2,436,173 people have died so far worldwide. That does not even take into account the many more that go unreported. That actual figure could be as much as 4 times higher. Many of these are people who haven’t had children, and their nonexistent children certainly won’t be procreating, either. So how will that speed this process along? It’s too soon to tell, as it will get a lot worse before it gets better.
Setting aside (If that’s even possible…) the horror and tragedy that this pandemic is visiting upon us as we lose loved ones, personally, a planet with more wildlife and forests is quite appealing to me. We’ll figure out how to cope with the economic strain. We’ll have no choice.
Either way, I anticipate that the world is going to look a lot different 150 years from now. And I maintain that that’s not a bad thing. It sure beats Soylent Green.
Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5