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The Population Implosion

Summary:
This documentary was produced in 2007-8. The information that it presents is somewhat better known today, but not much. Its title: “Demographic Winter.” The humanist Left despises this documentary. Why? Because it lays a tombstone on Paul Ehrlich’s preposterous book, The Population Bomb (1968). Let us be reasonable about this. Population implosion is inevitable. Those who predict a population implosion are correct. But they usually are afraid of this implosion. I am not. Here is the inescapable reality of population growth: it cannot continue indefinitely. Why not? Because of this word: “finite,” as in “indefinite.” Nothing in a finite universe can continue to increase at a positive rate of return: the compounding process. Such positive feedback always

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This documentary was produced in 2007-8. The information that it presents is somewhat better known today, but not much. Its title: “Demographic Winter.”

The humanist Left despises this documentary. Why? Because it lays a tombstone on Paul Ehrlich’s preposterous book, The Population Bomb (1968).

Let us be reasonable about this. Population implosion is inevitable. Those who predict a population implosion are correct. But they usually are afraid of this implosion. I am not.

Here is the inescapable reality of population growth: it cannot continue indefinitely. Why not? Because of this word: “finite,” as in “indefinite.” Nothing in a finite universe can continue to increase at a positive rate of return: the compounding process. Such positive feedback always becomes exponential. It always is stopped by a lack of resources.

There is another possibility, never discussed: the end of time, as in final judgment. In all of the discussions, pro and con, of population growth, I am the one person who discusses this as a backdrop. I wrote about this back in 1979.

It is inconceivable that even a wholly regenerate and law-abiding world could attain rates of compound growth above 1% per annum for a thousand years. Above zero, yes, but not above 1%. For example, consider the expansion of population. Today there are an estimated four billion people on earth. At 1% per annum, the earth’s human population would be 83.8 trillion people a thousand years from now. The compounding effect is staggering in its multiplication powers. Growth can achieve high rates for a time — and 5% per annum, which modern economists expect from a 20th-century economy, is astronomically high and absolutely unsustainable for more than historically brief periods — but then stagnation sets in, and more likely economic or population decline. The society-shaking rates of change that we have experienced over the past century are temporary. The numbers tell us that much. Either growth will slow down, or judgment day will come, before the next thousand years are over. Take your pick. See here.

A SILLY DEBATE

There are population explosionists who use their demographic handwringing to call for more government intervention to restrict growth. I have written about this here.

On the other side of the debate are population implosionists who use their demographic handwringing to call for . . . they never quite say.

There was an anti-Ehrlich book a generation ago titled Grow or Die! It had lots of good statistics, but the thesis was nonsense. It is never a case of grow or die. No matter what we are talking about, compound growth must end. As Herbert Stein, Nixon’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, so aptly put it: “When things cannot go on, they have a tendency to stop.” I wrote about this in 1970: “The Theology of the Exponential Curve.” Read it here.

This is why the demographic explosionists are dead wrong. But so are the explosionists. The explosionists call for government intervention to call a halt to population growth. No intervention is needed. It will stop on its own. We even know when: in 2065. The documentary shows why.

So, ignore the economic handwringing in this video. There is a robotics revolution going on. The fears of declining economic growth that this documentary warns about need not be a problem at all. The robots and algorithms are going to replace the falling productivity associated with population decline.

The voluntary free market is going to solve the problem of the voluntary restriction on conception that the world has been experiencing since 1960.

Gary North

Gary Kilgore North (born February 1942) is an American Christian Reconstructionist theorist and economic historian. North has authored or coauthored over fifty books on topics including Christian theology, economics, and history. He is an Associated Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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