Population Slowdown Has Positive Impacts If Seen From The Perspective Of Environmentalists, But Negative For Capitalists
Elon Musk never fails to get attention on Twitter. He has been storming Twitter ever since he made his first appearance on the microblogging platform. This time, he, along with his father, attracted people’s attention for their ‘repopulation theory.’ The 76-year-old Errol Musk, the father of Elon Musk, recently made a shocking announcement about fathering a second unplanned child with his stepdaughter. The US Sun paper reported that Errol claimed he had a child with his 35-year-old stepdaughter – Jana Bezuidenhout – three years ago. Errol and Bezuidenhout had a baby girl named Elliot Rush, nicknamed Rushi, in 2018. The duo had lived together for a while, the paper claimed. In response to his claim, he said that he felt the only reason for being on Earth is to reproduce.
In an interview, Errol said, “The only thing we are on Earth for is to reproduce,” adding, “If I could have another child, I would. I can’t see any reason not to.”
Earlier, a report published by Insider revealed that SpaceX CEO – Elon Musk – secretly welcomed twins last year with his top Neuralink executive Shivon Zilis, who gave birth last November, bringing the total count of children to nine. Responding to that, Musk leaned into it and confirmed the news, in fact, he tweeted “Doing my best to help the underpopulation crisis. A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far.”
Doing my best to help the underpopulation crisis.
A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2022
Elon Musk On ‘Underpopulation Crisis’
However, this was not the first time Elon Musk created controversy for his underpopulation remark, he has been very blunt about his ‘underpopulation crisis’ theory for a very long time. Musk firmly believes that the Earth is heading toward a population collapse, and he raised concerns about population slowdown on several occasions. This year in May, Musk shared a report on birth rate levels by The Wall Street Journal, which showed that the total fertility rate had reached close to 1.5 in the US.
USA birth rate has been below min sustainable levels for ~50 years pic.twitter.com/v5PSLbvEAE
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2022
Earlier this year, in January, Musk raised yet another concern over China’s declining birth rate that can lead to a possible ‘population collapse’ in the near future. The tech billionaire said, “Most people still think China has a one-child policy. China had its lowest birthrate ever last year, despite having a three-child policy! At current birth rates, China will lose ~40% of people every generation! Population collapse.”
Most people still think China has a one-child policy.
China had its lowest birthdate ever last year, despite having a three-child policy!
At current birth rates, China will lose ~40% of people every generation!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 6, 2022
While environmentalists and international organizations, such as the UN, are worried about the growing population, Musk believes that the environment is safe from overpopulation. He, in fact, does not believe in the term ‘overpopulation.’ He believes that people choosing fewer kids because of the environment is “total nonsense.”
“Some people think that having fewer kids is better for the environment. The environment’s gonna be fine even if we doubled the population. I know a lot of environmental stuff…Japan had the lowest birth rate. Having kids is essential for maintaining civilization. We can’t let civilization dwindle into nothing,” Musk said.
In May 2019, during a conversation with Jack Ma at the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) at Shanghai Expo Center, Musk said, “The biggest problem the world will face in 20 years is population collapse.”
Population collapse is the biggest threat to civilization https://t.co/ZrHN5DsrVB
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2022
Is The World Population Collapsing?
Elon Musk might be right when he said that the world population is slowing down, but he is wrong in his predictions about the population collapse. There are several reports claiming a population slowdown in several countries. Interestingly, a BBC report, published in 2020, warned that about 23 countries, majorly in Europe, will see their population drop to half the current number by 2100.
Last year in December, a study published in The Lancet predicted that the current 7.8 billion global population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 before declining to 8.8 billion by 2100.
Recently, data released by the Japanese government claimed that Japan’s population has dropped to a historic low for the 41st year in a row. Besides that, an article by The Wall Street Journal claimed that the fertility rate in the US has dropped below the replacement level of 2.1 and has remained so for the last 50 years.
Why Is The UN Opposing Elon Musk For His ‘Population Collapse’ Theory
The UN shared fresh data on the population growth right after Elon Musk talked about the ‘underpopulation crisis.’ United Nations released a new report last Monday saying that while the rate of new people being born worldwide is slowing down, the global population is expected to continue growing for many more decades.
This year, the global population will reach 8 billion people; presenting new challenges, but also new opportunities for humanity.
Together, we have the power to create a more peaceful & prosperous future for all.
— United Nations (@UN) July 11, 2022
The projections say by November 2022, the world will achieve the milestone of 8 billion population, and by 2030, this is projected to surpass 8.5 billion and 9.7 billion by 2050. Though the UN agrees on the population slowdown, ain’t we already 8 billion on our tiny planet? While recent census data shows that the population of older adults could begin to outnumber children before 2040, countries, including Japan, China, and South Korea, recorded drops in birth rates in recent years. But this is not the whole story. A declining fertility rate in some countries is not necessarily a sign of coming population collapse. While the developed economies are seeing a marginal drop in fertility rates, countries in Africa and Asia are expected to see their population explode in the coming decades. In a 2017 population forecast report, the UN wrote, “With roughly 83 million people being added to the world’s population every year, the upward trend in population size is expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.”
The 2022 UN report forecasted that 61 countries, majorly the developed economies, will likely experience a 1% drop in population by 2050. But several Asian and African countries are expected to see their population explode in the coming decades. The UN claimed that eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United Republic of Tanzania, will be responsible for more than half of the projected growth in the global population from now to 2050. India, on the other side, is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country as soon as next year.
The Economic And Environmental Impact Of Overpopulation
The big economies, such as the US and China, might afford the burden of a few million more people; the third world countries cannot afford to lose their people due to hunger and poverty. Musk is currently the wealthiest person on the planet, he can afford to feed a small size country, but that doesn’t mean everyone on the earth should go for large family planning consisting of a dozen members.
In 2020, the UN warned that 820 million people in the world experience hunger on a daily basis. The continuously growing populations in some regions could see higher rates of hunger due to climate change, water scarcity, and other environmental crises. As per the data, nearly one in eight of the world’s population doesn’t have enough to eat.
The global economy has increased by more than 350 percent since 1980, but the number of people living under 5 dollars a day increased by over 1 billion. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 40 percent of the population lives on less than 1 dollar a day, and in South Asia, there is about 30 percent of people live on less than a dollar per day. According to the United Nations, there are approximately 850 million undernourished people globally, and more than a billion do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. With the population boost, more people are being dragged into poverty, starvation, acute health risks, crimes, human rights abuse, human trafficking, and discrimination. Many children are forced into child labor and trafficking.
While Elon Musk says ‘the environment’s gonna be fine even if we doubled the population,’ he chooses to ignore the fact that the environment is yet another concern for a growing population. With the growing numbers of human beings on the Earth, the numbers of cars, flights, agriculture, deforestation, mining, and other carbon footprints are significantly increasing. So far, we have cleared roughly the size of South America for agriculture, and an area roughly the size of Africa to raise livestock. Nearly 40 percent of the land is being used for growing crops only; still, we are unable to feed 820 million undernourished people. One of the major environmental threats of overpopulation is the 6th mass extinction, ecological collapse, water pollution, and ocean pollution. So far, around 1,000 animal species are extinct due to the rise in human activities, and many ocean species are in danger too.
Musk might be right for his remark on population slowdown, but that does not apply to the whole world. Even though the world population growth graph is going down, we have significantly increased the human race in the past century. The earth is running out of resources, a portion of the world sleeps empty stomach, access to safe drinking water is still available to a handful privilege people, and climate change has reached a stage where it cannot be reversed. Musk might be good at influencing the young generation, but the world needs to be more aware of the fact that we have limited resources, and unlike Elon Musk, we do not have a net worth of over $2 trillion.