Fertility is falling and families are shrinking in places— such as Brazil, Indonesia, and even parts of India—that people think of as teeming with children. As our briefing shows, the fertility rate of half the world is now 2.1 or less—the magic number that is consistent with a stable population and is usually called “the replacement rate of fertility”. Sometime between 2020 and 2050 the world’s fertility rate will fall below the global replacement rate.The article doesn't draw the same conclusion about climate change that I do. They see this as evidence that policies and laws can "contain carbon emissions". I see the lesson as alarmists get it wrong.
At a time when Malthusian worries are resurgent and people fear the consequences for an overcrowded planet, the decline in fertility is surprising and somewhat reassuring. It means that worries about a population explosion are themselves being exploded—and it carries a lesson about how to solve the problems of climate change.
Today’s fall in fertility is both very large and very fast. Poor countries are racing through the same demographic transition as rich ones, starting at an earlier stage of development and moving more quickly. The transition from a rate of five to that of two, which took 130 years to happen in Britain—from 1800 to 1930—took just 20 years—from 1965 to 1985—in South Korea. Mothers in developing countries today can expect to have three children. Their mothers had six. In some countries the speed of decline in the fertility rate has been astonishing. In Iran, it dropped from seven in 1984 to 1.9 in 2006—and to just 1.5 in Tehran. That is about as fast as social change can happen.
It wasn't policies and laws that constrained population growth. It was people and education. I think the global warming thing is overdone because of two facts:
- the science of global warming is about as flakey as the "science" of Malthus and his dire warnings, and
- educaton and technology change the equation and prognosticators never get those right.
The greens do the same thing. The greens aren't going to cut back on their energy intensive lifestyle. They just want to make sure the poor don't get to enjoy the same benefits. Nutty. This won't work for the same reason that the Paul Ehrlich's of this world alarmist "population bomb" doom-and-gloom incantations did no good.
The real positive change came through rising living standards, better education, and more technology. I never heard any "zero population growth" fanatic call for these things and you wan't hear any "green" global warming fanatic call for these as well. These fanatics are anti-people. They are fanatics. Like all fanatics their solutions are simplistic and inhuman.