Sunday, January 30th, 2011
Demographics are probably considered one of the most unsexy subjects known to mankind… but The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future by Fred Pearce takes a second look at old school demographics. Pearce, if you haven’t read any of his previous work, is a well respected British environmental journalist with a slew of exemplary research under his belt. In this book, released in early 2010, he tracks back to explore where the numbers are really leading the global population statistic. And those numbers are not in the direction of continual world growth.
With the often maligned baby boomer generation leading their way into retirement in 2011 there has to be a time when the unsustainable older boomer bubble starts to die in their sleep. At the same time nearly every country in the world is in population decline with the average global woman now producing 2.6 babies – in less than a decade, if trends persist, global population will be below replacement levels. And by 2040 we are looking at a global population that, for the first time since the Black Death, will be shrinking. The trends point to an older overall population well into the future with a greater influence from women.
That’s an interesting point – how will the world be different without the traditional patriarchal societies? Could this possibly be a future with less confrontation fueled by testosterone? And how will the shrinking populations of Europe and the United States, for example, affect the migration of labour around the world?
From the Catholic Church’s pre-occupation with abortion due to the need to replace those men lost to the labour force after the Black Death in Europe, to Malthusian ideas of letting the weak fall aside for the good of humanity, to the long history of eugenics, and the spirited battle to retard population growth that has brought about an even greater effect than its engineers may have imagined… you simply need to think a little about the long term ramifications of Mao’s infamous one child policy… Pearce’s book is chocked full of well researched information and sustained argument.
The argument is that population isn’t the giant negative we’ve been brought to believe. It brings its own truth to the changing demographic landscape of the world. If you get a chance, read another Fred Pearce book – Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking down the Sources of my Stuff. Both are absolute page turners.