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In contrast, the revision suggested that 9. So what shall we do? Are there too many people on the planet? Is this the end of life as we know it?

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Read more Distinguished geographer Professor Danny Dorling thinks we should not worry so much and that, whatever impending doom may be around the corner, we will deal with it when it comes. In a series of fascinating chapters he charts the rise of the human race from its origins to its end-point of population 10 billion. Thus he shows that while it took until about to reach 5 billion we reached 6 billion by , 7 billion eleven years later and will reach 8 billion by By recording how we got here, Dorling is able to show us the key issues that we face in the coming decades: how we will deal with scarcity of resources; how our cities will grow and become more female; why the change that we should really prepare for is the population decline that will occur after 10 billion.

Packed full of counter-intuitive ideas and observations, this book is a tool kit to prepare for the future and to help us ask the right questions. Even India, soon to become the most populous nation on earth, will see its numbers stabilize in about a generation and then start to decline.

Fertility rates remain sky-high in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Population 10 Billion by Danny Dorling

Even here, though, things are changing as young women obtain access to education and birth control. Some of the indications of an accelerating decline in fertility can be found in scholarly research and government reports; others can only be found by talking to people on the street. And so we did. There were other stops as well. We talked to academics and public officials, but more important, we talked to young people: on university campuses and at research institutes and in favelas and slums.

We wanted to know what they were thinking about the most important decision they will ever make: whether and when to have a baby. But it is a big thing. A child born today will reach middle age in a world in which conditions and expectations are very different from our own. She will find the planet more urban, with less crime, environmentally healthier but with many more old people.


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We see it in urbanizing Latin America and even Africa, where women are increasingly taking charge of their own destinies. We may see it, very soon, influencing the global contest for power. Population decline will shape the nature of war and peace in the decades ahead, as some nations grapple with the fallout of their shrinking, aging societies while others remain able to sustain themselves. The defining geopolitical challenge in the coming decades could involve accommodating and containing an angry, frightened China as it confronts the consequences of its disastrous one-child policy.

Some of those who fear the fallout of a diminishing population advocate government policies to increase the number of children couples have. But the evidence suggests this is futile. Couples no longer see having children as a duty they must perform to satisfy their obligation to their families or their god. Rather, they choose to raise a child as an act of personal fulfillment. And they are quickly fulfilled. One solution to the challenge of a declining population is to import replacements.

For decades now, Canada has brought in more people, on a per capita basis, than any other major developed nation, with little of the ethnic tensions, ghettos, and fierce debate that other countries face.


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France insists its immigrants embrace the idea of being French, even as many of the old stock deny such a thing is possible, leaving immigrant communities isolated in their banlieues, separate and not equal. The population of the United Kingdom is projected to continue growing, to about 82 million at the end of the century, from 66 million today, but only if the British continue to welcome robust levels of immigration. As the Brexit referendum revealed, many Brits want to turn the English Channel into a moat. To combat depopulation, nations must embrace both immigration and multiculturalism.

The first is hard. The second, for some, may prove impossible.


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  • Among great powers, the coming population decline uniquely advantages the United States. For centuries, America has welcomed new arrivals, first from across the Atlantic, then the Pacific as well, and today from across the Rio Grande. Immigration made the twentieth century the American century, and continued immigration will define the twenty-first as American as well.

    Human Population Through Time

    The suspicious, nativist, America First groundswell of recent years threatens to choke off the immigration tap that made America great by walling up the border between the United States and everywhere else. Under President Donald Trump, the federal government not only cracked down on illegal immigrants, it reduced legal admissions for skilled workers, a suicidal policy for the U. If this change is permanent, if Americans out of senseless fear reject their immigrant tradition, turning their backs on the world, then the United States too will decline, in numbers and power and influence and wealth.

    Growth Rate

    This is the choice that every American must make: to support an open, inclusive, welcoming society, or to shut the door and wither in isolation. The human herd has been culled in the past by famine or plague. This time, we are culling ourselves; we are choosing to become fewer. Will our choice be permanent? The answer is: probably yes.

    Though governments have sometimes been able to increase the number of children couples are willing to have through generous child care payments and other supports, they have never managed to bring fertility back up to the replacement level of, on average, 2. Besides, such programs are extremely expensive and tend to be cut back during economic downturns.

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    And it is arguably unethical for a government to try to convince a couple to have a child that they would otherwise not have had. As we settle into a world growing smaller, will we celebrate or mourn our diminishing numbers? Will we struggle to preserve growth, or accept with grace a world in which people both thrive and strive less? But it may be a poet who observes that, for the first time in the history of our race, humanity feels old.

    Will the world reach 10 billion people?

    But in their compelling book 'Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline,' Canadian social scientist Darrell Bricker and journalist John Ibbitson lay out the opposite case: 'The great defining event of the twenty-first century,' they say, 'will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Fewer people participating in the economy will mean slower economic growth, less entrepreneurship, rising inequality and calamitous government debt.

    In Brazil and China astonishing numbers of women opt for permanent sterilization well before the end of their fertile years half of Chinese couples take this route. In South Korea and Japan women delay childbirth until their 30s or forgo it altogether. The drivers of global fertility decline are here to stay.