At last, real hope from Laura Spinney

Writing as someone who is about to witness the beautiful county of Sussex carpeted over with concrete, to produce a dreary landscape of housing estates, shopping malls and car showrooms, it is heartening to note that the real cause of this destruction may be weakening. For world population may at last be falling. And we’ll all be better off as result, according to Laura Spinney of The Guardian.

There has always been a school of thought, usually associated with first year undergraduates and the inmates of certain lavishly funded think tanks, that a rising population is somehow associated with greater prosperity. Apart from the very rich, that has scarcely ever been true. Since the Industrial Revolution it has been laughably false, as one machine can outproduce any number of human workers. Laura is right on the money when she reports:

Demographer Ron Lee of the University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that GDP per person, and hence living standards, are highest when fertility falls just below replacement level (around 2.1 births per woman) – to 1.6 or even less.

In other words, lower fertility is good for men as well as women. And then there’s the environment to think about, as readers in the western parts of North America must be acutely aware. Maybe we won’t all live to see it, but it is nice to know that one day the vast soulless deserts of modern cities will give way again to clean air, space-and a better life for all.

Why declining birth rates are good news for life on Earth | Laura Spinney | The Guardian

#population #fertility #environment #climatechange #gdp

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