When Elon Musk posted: “Humans are the custodians of other life on Earth. Let us bring life to Mars!”
He surely meant to set the human foot on Martian soil, yet he meant something different than any of his previous recommendations.
The discussion found relevance to a 2020 report by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington which has indicated that the global fertility rate is likely to witness a grave decline by 2050 and 2100s.
The study got published in lancet, proving the GFR to have nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 and anticipating a further fall to 1.7 by 2100.
In response to the flowing debate, the 50-year-old billionaire also shared his concern about the report saying that the civilization may fade away slowly.
Recap: The lancet 2020 revelations
The study explains that people over 80s will likely outnumber the under 5’s around the world by two to one in 2100 as fertility falls.
With the life expectancy increasing on Earth, children under 5 years age will probably decline by 41% from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100 while the number of people above 80 years old has been projected to increase six times, from 141 million to 866 million in 2100.
“Population collapse is a much bigger problem than people realize and that’s just for Earth”, Musk adds, who is the father to seven children.
Population collapse or population rise: what is real?
Only this May, Chinese government allowed its residents to have three children. If we look at the chronology, it only came 5 years later than its 2-child policy reversing the very harsh and rigid 1980s one child policy.
According to its latest census, China is constantly losing its fertility and population to early 400000 annually.
Apart form the others in line like Japan with TFR (Total fertility rate) of 1.3, Russia (1.6), Brazil (1.8), Bangladesh (1.7) and Indonesia (2.0), US has also been facing a grave decline since last 6 years on an annual average decline of 19%.
There can be various reasons, ranging from career choices, lack of marriageable men, awareness about contraceptives, unbalanced family norms or women who prefer to be alone etc.
The current global fertility rate stands at 2.5, but is expected to fall by 2100 to 1.9.
However, these vary widely according to Pew Research. Africa will be the only region experience a “strong population growth” through 2100.
Europe and Latin America will see their population decline by 2100. In its complicated approach, Asia’s population will likely increase till 2055 and then begin to decline.
Unlike the expectations, a study by the Brookings Institute suggests that 300,000 babies in US were never born due to insecurities associated with the pandemic.
Elon Musk along with Jack Ma reflected their concern in a Conference: “The biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse. Not explosion. Collapse.”
Why is the collapse a concern too?
Although fewer people on the planet augurs well for the climate, but its economic consequences are hidden yet, but severe. It is even more disastrous to experience a failure in taking full advantage of the planet’s capacity to sustain human life.
If we go believing in all projections made, there is even one forecasting the world population growth to become practically zero in 2100.
There were six people belonging to working age for every retired person in mid twentieth century but in the recent times, the ratio is three-to-one and probably by 2035, it is hoped to be two-to-one.
Any law to dictate the human procreation can have drastic impacts too like boosting up even more inequality as several affluent families may find it easy to keep large families on the cost of vulnerable kinds.
This planet may need a break or rejuvenation but Human mind can devise a better method to limit its unwelcomed interference in the balance of Earth rather than wiping out human race and creating our future devoid of various ethnicities, cultures etc.
The approach, however, needs to be more well-balanced for Human well-being and delivery of justice is far more desirable than mere alarmist GDP figures and profits plunging.
No country can guarantee prosperity with greater population in dearth of appropriate skilling programmes to transform this burden of human lives on Earth into an actual asset for humankind.
India’s case in point:
Our country stands with an added advantage of greater manpower now, providing an impetus to greater economic opportunities, especially in the services sector. But with increasing population, India may face difficulties in exploiting this asset.
As per Periodic Labor Force Survey, India has registered high unemployment rate i.e. above 20%. This has even been stricken hard by the pandemic situation and restless migration.
With no new job opportunity in view for the ones contributing almost nothing to the country’s GDP or those facing skill gap for available employment, this asset becomes useless, just like idle money in economics.
Population can only be nurtured, through proper facilities to grow and assist in much-significant Human capital formation.
Human adapts well, all he/she has to do is conform and transform as per the changing World dynamics.