If Tomorrow Comes

Read this, and let's discuss it.

12 comments:

Eric said...

More from the doom and gloom crowd.

How did the world function when it had half as many people as now in it then?

This is not really a problem in the long run. Will things change? Yes they will. They always do.

Grim said...

Well, the short answer to that question is that it grew. We aren't doing that; so we're in different territory.

The other answer is that it lived in a kind of poverty we don't currently entertain in the first world. There's a question as to whether it is really possible to maintain these standards of wealth and comfort when there aren't people to do the work of maintaining them.

Eric said...

It wasn't growing everywhere--At least not until the middle of the 19th century.

But, the real issue isn't that not enough people are not having enough children. That is over and done with.

The issue now is how to manage a decreasing population--Because even if it was mandated that every woman have 2 kids, one wouldn't see the effect of that for decades. And we all know such mandate isn't going to happen.

Grim said...

It isn't possible in any case; many women aren't able to have two children, as the ride through childbirth is fraught with peril in spite of medical science.

How to manage the decline, though, that's another question. If the decline is certain, what do we do about it? The Black Death brought about substantial benefits for the living who survived it; that might, sadly and oddly enough, be a model for us.

E Hines said...

There's a question as to whether it is really possible to maintain these standards of wealth and comfort when there aren't people to do the work of maintaining them.

But that's at least as much a matter of attitude as it is of numbers. As Eric hinted at, there were fewer people to do the maintaining then, albeit there also were fewer "first worlders" then, by their standards, but none at all by ours.

There will always be enough to do the work, and as technology continues to improve, there well be steadily fewer needed to do that kind of work. This frees even more both to enjoy the wealth (although, again, there will always be some better off than others) and to think about, and develop ways to do yet better, including spreading our species among the stars.

That latter part is part of the attitude, too: will there be enough, in our fat-cat state, willing to do the work--of either type?

I see two scenarios, both inherently optimistic, although one is gloomily so. The first scenario is that, yes, there will be enough willing to do that sort of work, so that the net quality of life continues to improve. The other is that no there won't be, presently, and the end game of that will be a massive die-back of humanity. But rather than extinction, that will simply put us through another period of dark ages, out of which will develop a new renaissance.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I can get behind a new dark age, as far as it goes. I've the makings of a good cavalry unit just around the yard.

Texan99 said...

It's not so much that there will be fewer people; I'd be surprised if the world population were really going to crash. What we're more likely to see is some cultures withering away while others procreate successfully and move into the new vacancies. But the transition is going to be hard on us older folks.

Dad29 said...

Well......

The demographics are positive in the Americas and Africa, but NOT in the Middle East (excepting Israel), Japan, and PRChina. Western Europe is dying, too.

Leaves us in a pretty good spot--excepting the current regime in the US.

bthun said...

Thankfully other folks have commented before I had an opportunity to use Richard's commentary as a launching pad for how we got here.

"How to manage the decline, though, that's another question. If the decline is certain, what do we do about it? The Black Death brought about substantial benefits for the living who survived it; that might, sadly and oddly enough, be a model for us."

Depending on which decline you want to use as the model from which one plans their actions, my observations, along with those of other folks here and there, would say the decline is well underway.

"I can get behind a new dark age, as far as it goes. I've the makings of a good cavalry unit just around the yard."

Sounds like a plan. I'll bring our own livestock, but 90% of the time I'm going to have to use a buckboard. Maybe I'll haul the foodstuffs, medical, and reloading supplies, further hone my inner grumpy, and start calling everyone a whippersnapper.

"The demographics are positive in the Americas and Africa, but NOT in the Middle East (excepting Israel), Japan, and PRChina. Western Europe is dying, too.

Leaves us in a pretty good spot--excepting the current regime in the US."


Thinking I heard a fling-wing hover over the hovel the last few evenings, I'll limit my response to a simple agreement. =;^}

raven said...

Just check the average IQ of the expanding/decreasing populations- the answer is not pretty.

This is professional and political suicide to talk about, but reality does not give a damn about PC ideals.

rcl said...

The birth rate is the key. Any living form not growing is in the process of dying. A living culture is based on family and faith. The areas of the world expanding in population are expanding in churches as well. China may well be the largest Christian country before it's the largest economy.

Every culture has to have an ideal, a civil and religious code. America has maintained our own, barely, while Europe has dismantled theirs. This isn't just a Western phenomena. Iran's radical authoritarianism has resulted in the plummeting of their birthrate to about the same as in France or Italy.

"Where there is no vision the people perish". Prov. 29:18

Anonymous said...

RCL has a very good point - for what are we living and working? Why do we undertake quests, why defend the institutions that we uphold (church, U.S. constitution), why have children if there is nothing in the future? To greatly oversimplify, I think one of the worst moral legacies of WWI and WWII was the idea that history is not a story of improvement and that things are not getting better. Granted, the "Whig School of History" was a tad too optimistic, but what makes the U.S. (and Israel) different from much of Europe is that we generally still think that things can get better even though there are periods of regression. "The light shone in the darkness and the darkness overcame it not."

LittleRed1