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Imagine a future without children When humanity is under pressure, the young suffer

Waiting for the great die-off. (Kevin Frayer/Getty)


August 30, 2023   6 mins

Of all the grim futures on offer today, climate change is unquestionably the doomsday scenario that weighs most heavily on the minds of the most people. Despite the raging hype that AI might one day turn against its creator, no protestor has yet glued himself to a JMW Turner painting to demand that ChatGPT just stop writing marketing copy. And although the odds of a nuclear war breaking out are the highest they’ve been in decades, nobody is holding up traffic in the hope of dissuading Vladimir Putin from launching his arsenal of “Satan” ICBMs. All eyes are on the boiling planet.

But what if a different crisis gets us first? What if the biggest problem we face is that billions of people are getting old at a faster rate than babies are being born? In Italy there are so few children that schools are “vanishing like the melting glaciers”. In Japan, adult nappies have outsold the baby variety for over a decade. Indeed, there is such a superabundance of waste from incontinence products that one town has started burning them for fuel. The problem is global: for countless millennia, forming families was the most intuitive thing imaginable, but no longer.

Of course, not everybody sees this as a problem. The glass-half-full take is that the declining birthrate has finally put our Malthusian terrors to bed. The threat of exponential overpopulation has corrected itself: for instance, China’s population is set to drop from 1.4 billion today to 800 million by 2100. The glass-half-empty view is that there won’t be enough young people to sustain this vastly expanded older population. The advice offered by economists is simple and utilitarian: countries that are depopulating must increase immigration.

But the materialist nature of today’s discussion, where it is being had, obscures the many profound existential questions posed by the impending arrival of a grey planet. In fact, there is only one forum in which these are being addressed: science fiction. Here, a handful of stories have tried to imagine what a world without children would look like.

The most famous of these thought experiments is Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film, Children of Men, based on the PD James novel, in which an ecological catastrophe has rendered the human race infertile, and civilisation stands on the brink of collapse. But while Children of Men is bleak enough, and contains generous helpings of man’s inhumanity to man, it is only set 18 years after the last birth. As a result, there are still plenty of young people about, among them a vigorous 40-ish-year-old Clive Owen, who ultimately discovers a mother and baby. The film ends with their rescue, and choral music, and the sound of children laughing. Crisis averted!

But if Children of Men loses its nerve, ultimately resisting the full ramifications of its premise, the same cannot be said of Greybeard, a novel by the British Grand Master of science fiction, Brian Aldiss. Written in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it imagines that a nuclear catastrophe has left all humans and many animal species infertile. Crucially, Aldiss begins his story half a century after the event, when humanity is on the verge of extinction. The youngest people in the novel are Algy Timberlane, aka “Greybeard”, and his wife, Martha, who are both 56. Most of the characters are in their seventies or older.

This enables Aldiss to explore the nature of an aging planet in detail. His first assumption is that a physically frail, and therefore vulnerable, community is a much more fearful one. At the start of his novel, Greybeard and his wife have spent a decade living in the village of Sparcot, which is run by a petty local tyrant. They have accepted his irascible rule in exchange for the promise of security. The residents squabble and complain about toothache while living in fear of invading Scotsmen and, of all creatures, stoats — one of the few species of mammal to have escaped the catastrophe with their reproductive organs intact, meaning they proliferate. The choice of animal is inspired: if Aldiss’s protagonists had feared feral dogs, their weakness would have been less obvious; how much worse that this diminished population cannot control a pest that nobody today gives a second thought. How alarming that Aldiss’s prophecy is starting to come true, on depopulated Japanese islands where cats vastly outnumber pensioners.

Loss of strength is only part of the problem, however. Civilisation is also undone by a collective loss of will. In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, the survivors hope that the infertility is a transient phase from which they will recover. Then, as the years pass, and it becomes clear that there will be no children to inherit the fruits of their labour, people lose interest in maintaining society beyond the bare necessities required to survive. The economy collapses and the result is a simpler, reduced world, of villages without businesses and new technologies. But this is not the pastoral dream of today’s “degrowth” proponents; it is an impoverished, dilapidated world that has given up on itself, and awaits oblivion.

Darkest of all, however, is Aldiss’s take on how this ageing remnant of humanity would treat children. Ownership and exploitation are the dominant attitudes. Initially, a global effort is made to gather the surviving minors in three “Childsweep” centres, where there are “three psychiatrists to every child”, to help them cope with the trauma of the world they have inherited. But like any scarce resource, the children become the subject of an international dispute, which leads to a catastrophic war. When, decades later, Greybeard arrives in a village which has a handful of mutant children, he finds that they are periodically put on display as a “treat” for the inhabitants of a village. Later still, when he discovers a few healthy youths, the first one he meets is being kept as a sex slave by a con man. Aldiss’ bitterness may be partly explained by the fact that when he wrote the book, he had lost custody of his children following a divorce, but his point is universal: as we saw during the pandemic, when humanity is under pressure, it does not treat its children well.

Of course, Greybeard is extreme by design. I’m not arguing that our leaders should abandon all thoughts of climate change and prepare for a crumbling world overrun by feral stoats in which most adults abuse the dwindling number of children. But the thing about the real world, as opposed to the world inside a novel, is that we can have many intersecting (and insurmountable) problems at the same time. Today’s climate change activists think too much like novelists: they are performing one simple thought experiment, by imagining our world as it is now — the same balance of young and old, the same technologies, the same governments — and extrapolating the future along one central theme, in search of a tidy resolution. But the warmer planet they imagine will also be a grey planet, filled with elderly people.

There will be many more Joe Bidens unable to make it to the end of a speech or climb stairs unaided, many more Mitch McConnells freezing before the cameras, many more geriatric pop stars miming to songs they first performed 50 years earlier. And they will be the lucky ones. A great many others will be alone, ill, vulnerable, surrounded by decaying infrastructure, while rats and other creatures run wild. In this context, we may want to reconsider some of our anxieties about the AI apocalypse. Indeed, this could be one area where it would benefit us to be a little less existential and a little more materialist. An older, depopulated world will clearly require a far higher degree of automation and augmentation; there’s a reason that Japan is known for its robot technology.

Aldiss’s conceit rules out some possibilities that are open to us, of course, including the economists’ favourite: immigration. But you don’t need to be a science fiction grand master to imagine how this policy might go awry. They are assuming that older, poorer countries will remain attractive destinations for the inhabitants of younger ones; that there will not be significant backlash from the existing populations; that the immigrants themselves will not adopt the customs of their host societies, stop reproducing, and also grow old.

Those countries that cannot stomach more immigration will seek to incentivise larger families. This is the approach of Hungary, which grants mothers under 30 an exemption from income tax. Historically, however, the idea of rewarding families for great feats of reproduction has had mixed results. And the time may be coming when no matter how attractive the tax breaks, couples simply can’t have children. Sperm counts are plummeting worldwide. Scientists have suggested that everything from obesity to “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” may be responsible, but without firm conclusions, humans may yet end up like French bulldogs, unable to reproduce without direct medical intervention. And of course, some communities opt for extinction over change: today, for every 150 Parsi Zoroastrians born in India, 600 die, but the community refuses to recognise the children of women who marry outsiders. In the 200 years of their existence, the Shakers have had ample opportunity to reconsider their celibacy, but have declined to do so, relying on conversion to keep the numbers up. Today, two remain.

You would think that — given its inevitability — we would put a bit more effort into imagining this grey new world. But Greybeard is one of very few attempts to confront a planet in which most people are very, very old. In politics, the story is worse than in literature. All the signs are that we would rather not think about it: China, for instance, stopped reporting on its fertility rate in 2017. Perhaps this is because we have already made our decision: like the Parsis, we are not going to have more children, and so all we can do is wait for the great die-off to unfold.


Daniel Kalder is an author based in Texas. Previously, he spent ten years living in the former Soviet bloc. His latest book, Dictator Literature, is published by Oneworld. He also writes on Substack: Thus Spake Daniel Kalder.

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Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
8 months ago

The thing is, the “humans are killing the planet” message is louder and fully enmeshed in climate catastrophism. If you want people to believe there’s a future worth having children for, stop telling them they’re selfish and profligate for doing so.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Something we should all remember. The way we treat children is loathsome. They have become political tools to advance the causes of grotesque ideologues. From Covid and climate change, to gender and education, we have repeatedly and consistently failed our children.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

When you say ‘we’, you obviously feel a little guilty.

Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I grew up and entered elementary school in the time of McCarthy and Eisenhower. Some would say this was a terrible time to be a kid. I say poppycock. Things were strict, sure. Rules were applied. But I was left along to enjoy the freedom I earned by staying out of trouble. Nobody messed with me.
Now, “messing” with kids is de rigour. People now look at an unaccompanied or unsupervised kid the same way they look at a dog without a leash. Which says a lot.
Oh, and Caradog: I can feel free to express all the contempt in the world for the “we” of contemporary societies, I do so with not one molecule of guilt. At least half of what is now extremely messed up with these societies is precisely due to guilt.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

When you say ‘we’, you obviously feel a little guilty.

Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I grew up and entered elementary school in the time of McCarthy and Eisenhower. Some would say this was a terrible time to be a kid. I say poppycock. Things were strict, sure. Rules were applied. But I was left along to enjoy the freedom I earned by staying out of trouble. Nobody messed with me.
Now, “messing” with kids is de rigour. People now look at an unaccompanied or unsupervised kid the same way they look at a dog without a leash. Which says a lot.
Oh, and Caradog: I can feel free to express all the contempt in the world for the “we” of contemporary societies, I do so with not one molecule of guilt. At least half of what is now extremely messed up with these societies is precisely due to guilt.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Here is the problem. In your world view, all pregnancies would be unexpected and unwanted. So the future changes quickly because the remaining parents would only see their children as burdens.
Imagine all of these unwanted, uneducated children touring the streets in gangs, with no controls – where would the controls come from in your view?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
8 months ago

That isn’t my ‘world view’ at all.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
8 months ago

That isn’t my ‘world view’ at all.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Humans are damaging the planet’s ecosystem and the fewer th better. I am pleased that this view is now mainstream

Last edited 8 months ago by Douglas Redmayne
Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago

You should live in a cave or burrow so you don’t hurt the “ecosystem.” I bet you use petroleum and electricity. Shame on you for helping to kill the planet.

Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago

You should live in a cave or burrow so you don’t hurt the “ecosystem.” I bet you use petroleum and electricity. Shame on you for helping to kill the planet.

Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

It remains to be seen, as the further 77 years of this century play themselves out, how a serious population decline will reduce the demand for much of the resources that we use which apparently cause so much concern.
A 10 or 25% drop in this demand could represent the equivalent of a very religious effort by the wealthy west to conform to much of the current activists’ demands. A drop of 33% or even 40% would be so much the better.
Also, I am a bit dubious that a sharp downtick in childbirth (for economic and other reasons) and especially in relatively wealthy parts of the world, automatically spells disaster. As if there would be no way to readjust a given population demographically. I think this is a little bit shortsighted, and possibly a great deal of our current ‘fling’ with catastrophizing. Post-covid dizziness.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Something we should all remember. The way we treat children is loathsome. They have become political tools to advance the causes of grotesque ideologues. From Covid and climate change, to gender and education, we have repeatedly and consistently failed our children.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Here is the problem. In your world view, all pregnancies would be unexpected and unwanted. So the future changes quickly because the remaining parents would only see their children as burdens.
Imagine all of these unwanted, uneducated children touring the streets in gangs, with no controls – where would the controls come from in your view?

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Humans are damaging the planet’s ecosystem and the fewer th better. I am pleased that this view is now mainstream

Last edited 8 months ago by Douglas Redmayne
Jp Merzetti
Jp Merzetti
8 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

It remains to be seen, as the further 77 years of this century play themselves out, how a serious population decline will reduce the demand for much of the resources that we use which apparently cause so much concern.
A 10 or 25% drop in this demand could represent the equivalent of a very religious effort by the wealthy west to conform to much of the current activists’ demands. A drop of 33% or even 40% would be so much the better.
Also, I am a bit dubious that a sharp downtick in childbirth (for economic and other reasons) and especially in relatively wealthy parts of the world, automatically spells disaster. As if there would be no way to readjust a given population demographically. I think this is a little bit shortsighted, and possibly a great deal of our current ‘fling’ with catastrophizing. Post-covid dizziness.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
8 months ago

The thing is, the “humans are killing the planet” message is louder and fully enmeshed in climate catastrophism. If you want people to believe there’s a future worth having children for, stop telling them they’re selfish and profligate for doing so.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
8 months ago

We’re about to celebrate our 4th grandchild in a year and our kids are promising us at least ten more (we have four of those to produce them). It’s fun, beautiful and the entire point of our existence. What could be better?

Last edited 8 months ago by Phil Mac
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Congratulations. But it seems the emotional desire to have children can only get us so far now. Until we decide to equalise the material benefits and society rewards parents as they do workers, the population seems destined to decline.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

That’s certainly part of it. Currently it is extremely difficult for a family of normal child rearing age to compete in the housing market with older couples with no kids.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

The solution is to abolish the old age pension

Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago

They should make it such that you get the full pension if you’ve had two or more children in your lifetime and only get a half-pension for paying your taxes. It makes too much sense which is exactly why it will not be done.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

No abolish the pension. You would have to have children to see to you in old and keep the family together to ensure it happened.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

No abolish the pension. You would have to have children to see to you in old and keep the family together to ensure it happened.

Jim M
Jim M
8 months ago

They should make it such that you get the full pension if you’ve had two or more children in your lifetime and only get a half-pension for paying your taxes. It makes too much sense which is exactly why it will not be done.

john gill
john gill
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

So far as I know parents have never been paid as much, simply for being parents, as workers have. It didn’t stop people from having children, and lots of them.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago
Reply to  john gill

Yes but there wasn’t modern contraception and for the vast majority children made you better off over all. They worked for the family business, extended your family support structures through marriage and cared for you in old age. That’s no longer the case, almost the complete opposite, if we want to increase our birth rates, having children must return to been the social and economic good that was for families it the past.

Last edited 8 months ago by Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago
Reply to  john gill

Yes but there wasn’t modern contraception and for the vast majority children made you better off over all. They worked for the family business, extended your family support structures through marriage and cared for you in old age. That’s no longer the case, almost the complete opposite, if we want to increase our birth rates, having children must return to been the social and economic good that was for families it the past.

Last edited 8 months ago by Matthew Powell
David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

That’s certainly part of it. Currently it is extremely difficult for a family of normal child rearing age to compete in the housing market with older couples with no kids.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

The solution is to abolish the old age pension

john gill
john gill
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

So far as I know parents have never been paid as much, simply for being parents, as workers have. It didn’t stop people from having children, and lots of them.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Wait until the great grandchildren, that’s when the fun really begins.
Bright young minds just ready to be ‘poisoned’ by all your years of ‘experiences, prejudices etc!
‘Teaching’ them can only be described as ‘sheer nectar’!

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago

The only useful contribution on the subject. My grandchildren ask what life was like when I was born (hundreds of years ago) and they listen to the answers. Isn’t that education?

Giles Toman
Giles Toman
8 months ago

Tell them about fighting off the dinosaurs on your way to school. Also tell them that when you were young, the whole world was actually black and white, and that you remember the day that it “went colour”.

Giles Toman
Giles Toman
8 months ago

Tell them about fighting off the dinosaurs on your way to school. Also tell them that when you were young, the whole world was actually black and white, and that you remember the day that it “went colour”.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago

The only useful contribution on the subject. My grandchildren ask what life was like when I was born (hundreds of years ago) and they listen to the answers. Isn’t that education?

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Congratulations!
Trouble is, there are millions in the Third World who have just the same sentiments, but who see their children’s future as being economic migration.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Congratulations. But it seems the emotional desire to have children can only get us so far now. Until we decide to equalise the material benefits and society rewards parents as they do workers, the population seems destined to decline.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Wait until the great grandchildren, that’s when the fun really begins.
Bright young minds just ready to be ‘poisoned’ by all your years of ‘experiences, prejudices etc!
‘Teaching’ them can only be described as ‘sheer nectar’!

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Congratulations!
Trouble is, there are millions in the Third World who have just the same sentiments, but who see their children’s future as being economic migration.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
8 months ago

We’re about to celebrate our 4th grandchild in a year and our kids are promising us at least ten more (we have four of those to produce them). It’s fun, beautiful and the entire point of our existence. What could be better?

Last edited 8 months ago by Phil Mac
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago

I think for many people, forming families still is the most intuitive thing imaginable. I feel that those who see the climate “emergency” as a reason to not have children tend to be people who are not on the cusp of wanting a family anyway, they just attach the rhetoric to what they forecast their feelings will be in the future. Generally, people explore ideas and experiences, and tend to find their way into a monogamous coupling, and many couples then start to desire a family when they feel like they have the stability to raise one. I think the biggest issue in the reduced birth rate is that young people just don’t feel able to financially support a family. They seem to be teetering on financial disaster every month. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage each month on your combined salary, how do you manage taking several months of unpaid leave? In the UK you are only entitled to 6 weeks maternity pay by the state. And once you return to work, how do you then afford childcare costs that are even greater than your mortgage that you are already struggling with!?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago

I think for many people, forming families still is the most intuitive thing imaginable. I feel that those who see the climate “emergency” as a reason to not have children tend to be people who are not on the cusp of wanting a family anyway, they just attach the rhetoric to what they forecast their feelings will be in the future. Generally, people explore ideas and experiences, and tend to find their way into a monogamous coupling, and many couples then start to desire a family when they feel like they have the stability to raise one. I think the biggest issue in the reduced birth rate is that young people just don’t feel able to financially support a family. They seem to be teetering on financial disaster every month. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage each month on your combined salary, how do you manage taking several months of unpaid leave? In the UK you are only entitled to 6 weeks maternity pay by the state. And once you return to work, how do you then afford childcare costs that are even greater than your mortgage that you are already struggling with!?

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago

As Charles Munger said. “Show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcomes.”

Choosing to have children, and it is now, post sexual revolution, more than ever a conscious choice, children are no more the unavoidable consequence of humans libidos; is one which that virtually no adult would chose on a solely rational basis.

In the UK, raising a child to adulthood costs somewhere in the region of £150,000- £200,000. It takes even larger sacrifices in time, effort, emotional capital and means abandoning the ability to travel, socialise and indulge yourself as and when you please. And what reward do we give parents in return? We privatise the costs but socialise the benefits their children bring to the economy so that those who didn’t have children themselves, despite being several hundred thousand pounds and thousands of leisure hours better off as a result, (and yes this includes child benefits and education costs, which every childless adult received as children themselves anyway), then get to share in tax receipts of the workers who pay for their pensions, health and social care, despite the ratio of pensioners to workers growing each year due to their own low fertility rates.

The result is hardly unexpected. Since there is no material reward for having children but ample rewards for those who do not, then you get a tragedy of the commons. It is always in the individual’s interest to have as few children as possible as long as someone else is having them but since there is no mechanism to reward having children, less and less people do so and the population collapses and with it, eventually the economy as well.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Well, the Hungarians are making a brave attempt ‘to reward having children.’ I think we have to take the problem out of the ‘breeding for Britain’ aspect; it smacks of Margaret Attwood. I think the media, the Government, schools and so on, should present marriage, family life and having children as emotionally rewarding and psychologically satisfying. Offer financial incentives too but as secondary to the emotional benefits. And build lots more flat-pack, long-life houses like they do in Scandinavia.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Well, the Hungarians are making a brave attempt ‘to reward having children.’ I think we have to take the problem out of the ‘breeding for Britain’ aspect; it smacks of Margaret Attwood. I think the media, the Government, schools and so on, should present marriage, family life and having children as emotionally rewarding and psychologically satisfying. Offer financial incentives too but as secondary to the emotional benefits. And build lots more flat-pack, long-life houses like they do in Scandinavia.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago

As Charles Munger said. “Show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcomes.”

Choosing to have children, and it is now, post sexual revolution, more than ever a conscious choice, children are no more the unavoidable consequence of humans libidos; is one which that virtually no adult would chose on a solely rational basis.

In the UK, raising a child to adulthood costs somewhere in the region of £150,000- £200,000. It takes even larger sacrifices in time, effort, emotional capital and means abandoning the ability to travel, socialise and indulge yourself as and when you please. And what reward do we give parents in return? We privatise the costs but socialise the benefits their children bring to the economy so that those who didn’t have children themselves, despite being several hundred thousand pounds and thousands of leisure hours better off as a result, (and yes this includes child benefits and education costs, which every childless adult received as children themselves anyway), then get to share in tax receipts of the workers who pay for their pensions, health and social care, despite the ratio of pensioners to workers growing each year due to their own low fertility rates.

The result is hardly unexpected. Since there is no material reward for having children but ample rewards for those who do not, then you get a tragedy of the commons. It is always in the individual’s interest to have as few children as possible as long as someone else is having them but since there is no mechanism to reward having children, less and less people do so and the population collapses and with it, eventually the economy as well.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago

So…..
Either accept that millions of immigrants are going to destroy our culture and economy, or gamble on the faint chance that we can re-train stoats to provide geriatric care.
I’m gambling on the latter.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Very good, but they’ll be in competition with meerkat forces

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Note that 100% of Americans are “immigrants” and (almost) as culturally xenophobic as the Brits. As long as the culture that embraced the immigrant is strong, happy assimilation will occur. Perhaps there is an underlying rot in recent British culture that evokes fear of being unworthy of accepting new neighbors? To paraphrase the famous Churchill quote (“I’ll give you traditions of the navy: rum, buggery and the lash!”) I’ll give you traditions of Britain: colonialism and it’s regrets, socialism and malaise.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
8 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

I’m always amused (as condescendingly as it sounds) by the phrase “Americans are” followed by some theory about “Americans”. Most of what follows are Hollywood or media generated generalizations which apply to few people I’ve ever met. Sometimes there’s a reference to “flyover country”. I guess that must be me. Attempting to sum up the views of such a vast multicultural country in a few words only advances ignorance.

Nancy Kmaxim
Nancy Kmaxim
8 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

I’m always amused (as condescendingly as it sounds) by the phrase “Americans are” followed by some theory about “Americans”. Most of what follows are Hollywood or media generated generalizations which apply to few people I’ve ever met. Sometimes there’s a reference to “flyover country”. I guess that must be me. Attempting to sum up the views of such a vast multicultural country in a few words only advances ignorance.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

But as someone pointed out, the immigrants will also probably grow old and adopt our child-free mores. Against this, President Erdogan of Turkey has urged Muslims in the West to have families of five children. I suspect a stronger peoples – Muslims – will come to dominate a weaker culture – our post-Christian society.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Very good, but they’ll be in competition with meerkat forces

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Note that 100% of Americans are “immigrants” and (almost) as culturally xenophobic as the Brits. As long as the culture that embraced the immigrant is strong, happy assimilation will occur. Perhaps there is an underlying rot in recent British culture that evokes fear of being unworthy of accepting new neighbors? To paraphrase the famous Churchill quote (“I’ll give you traditions of the navy: rum, buggery and the lash!”) I’ll give you traditions of Britain: colonialism and it’s regrets, socialism and malaise.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

But as someone pointed out, the immigrants will also probably grow old and adopt our child-free mores. Against this, President Erdogan of Turkey has urged Muslims in the West to have families of five children. I suspect a stronger peoples – Muslims – will come to dominate a weaker culture – our post-Christian society.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago

So…..
Either accept that millions of immigrants are going to destroy our culture and economy, or gamble on the faint chance that we can re-train stoats to provide geriatric care.
I’m gambling on the latter.

Graeme
Graeme
8 months ago

I really enjoyed this piece, and the writer’s subtle point is a good one: stop catastrophising the climate, if you want your children to reproduce. Their refusal to do so is “rational” within the context of the message with which you allow schools and media to indoctrinate them while they were young: that the planet is about to die. It isn’t, of course, but you might have wanted to think through the consequences of permitting an ideology of end-of-days to take such a quite strong root. (The “you” there is all of us, of course.) All the other reasons proferred for the young’s disinterest in reproduction – such as the cost of housing – are marginal compared to the central fact that the culture pulses, constantly, with a bleak message of doom from mentally maladjusted people like that weird animal guy on the BBC or that frankly ill Scandinavian teenager.

Just one mild point. The Children of Men is a famous novel by the great PD James, later turned into a good film by Alfonso Cuaron. Not the other way around (a “famous film” based on some book.) In fact the film ducked quite a few of Baroness James’ more dystopic and unsettling moments, including the kitten in a pram, and the boats launched into the Quietus. I’ve read Greybeard too, and think the James novel a much superious piece of writing.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Graeme

I agree with you. I wish the MSM, such as the BBC would stop the anti-children, pro- Green propaganda. It is hard for the young to resist – especially as they are products of their parents’ very confused generation. The weird animal guy? Is he Chris Packham? I think he announced he would not being having children. This is ‘virtue signalling’ – to extinction.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Graeme

I agree with you. I wish the MSM, such as the BBC would stop the anti-children, pro- Green propaganda. It is hard for the young to resist – especially as they are products of their parents’ very confused generation. The weird animal guy? Is he Chris Packham? I think he announced he would not being having children. This is ‘virtue signalling’ – to extinction.

Graeme
Graeme
8 months ago

I really enjoyed this piece, and the writer’s subtle point is a good one: stop catastrophising the climate, if you want your children to reproduce. Their refusal to do so is “rational” within the context of the message with which you allow schools and media to indoctrinate them while they were young: that the planet is about to die. It isn’t, of course, but you might have wanted to think through the consequences of permitting an ideology of end-of-days to take such a quite strong root. (The “you” there is all of us, of course.) All the other reasons proferred for the young’s disinterest in reproduction – such as the cost of housing – are marginal compared to the central fact that the culture pulses, constantly, with a bleak message of doom from mentally maladjusted people like that weird animal guy on the BBC or that frankly ill Scandinavian teenager.

Just one mild point. The Children of Men is a famous novel by the great PD James, later turned into a good film by Alfonso Cuaron. Not the other way around (a “famous film” based on some book.) In fact the film ducked quite a few of Baroness James’ more dystopic and unsettling moments, including the kitten in a pram, and the boats launched into the Quietus. I’ve read Greybeard too, and think the James novel a much superious piece of writing.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago

One of the interesting things is that most women still set out in life with the intention of having children. But somehow, for a significant number, it just doesn’t happen. Or it happens so late that they are only able to have one child.

We need to know much more about that somehow, and if we wish our societies to continue and thrive, we need to do something about it.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s time for Margaret Attwood’s Republic of Gilead to become reality. That might work.

Chiara de Cabarrus
Chiara de Cabarrus
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s very difficult. Nobody would want to go back to an era where women had few options and little control over their fertility. I think Louise Perry put it well: the Pill transformed marriage from biological imperative to social choice. One of the downsides being that it made possible the sort of open ended but commitment free living arrangements which arguably really backfired against women who wanted to have families . Add to this the prevailing cultural norms that for example, celebrate and encourage the idea of the unfettered individual striding through the market place of endlessly varied experience, and for whom the constraint of self imposed limitation would be considered both regressive and injurious. None of this is remotely original . I bite my tongue when in the company of my female friends who are in their thirties, and who seem to not realise that whatever Oscar Wilde said , they won’t be 35 for ever. One day , love affairs, travel and fascinating accomplishments will not seem like solid foundations for the second half of life.
On the other hand , i will contradict myself and say that I’m just as exasperated by the post liberals who present the life of the unmarried and childless human as empty of all possible worth and consolation. So i don’t know really! Except that when I was growing up , no one said “be careful, there are so many ways this culture can lose you , even as you think you are doing the right thing”.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago

Enjoyed your post.

It’s very difficult. Nobody would want to go back to an era where women had few options and little control over their fertility.

But the evidence seems to be that most women do set out wanting to have children. Contrary to a number of comments, it is not so much that women are choosing not to have children: they are failing to have them in spite of wanting to.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

In support of your observation:


 a 2010 meta-analysis by the Dutch academic Prof Renske Keiser, which suggested that only 10% of childless women actively chose not to become mothers 
 Only 9% [of the remaining 90%] are childless for known medical reasons.

The Guardian, 2 October 2017.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Because they are leaving it too late for their fertility to work as it should. And they find men who ‘don’t want to take responsibility’ – for growing up.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

In support of your observation:


 a 2010 meta-analysis by the Dutch academic Prof Renske Keiser, which suggested that only 10% of childless women actively chose not to become mothers 
 Only 9% [of the remaining 90%] are childless for known medical reasons.

The Guardian, 2 October 2017.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Because they are leaving it too late for their fertility to work as it should. And they find men who ‘don’t want to take responsibility’ – for growing up.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago

I think the Pill has been the death of marriages, babies and sexual fulfilment. It has led to selfishness and promiscuity – and that is not a recipe for women’s (or men’s) happiness. If I were to blame anyone, it would be feminists, but they are victims too, so I feel sorry for them.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago

Enjoyed your post.

It’s very difficult. Nobody would want to go back to an era where women had few options and little control over their fertility.

But the evidence seems to be that most women do set out wanting to have children. Contrary to a number of comments, it is not so much that women are choosing not to have children: they are failing to have them in spite of wanting to.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago

I think the Pill has been the death of marriages, babies and sexual fulfilment. It has led to selfishness and promiscuity – and that is not a recipe for women’s (or men’s) happiness. If I were to blame anyone, it would be feminists, but they are victims too, so I feel sorry for them.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

The ‘somehow’ means that girls are brainwashed into thinking they must have a career first and climb the professional ladder. When they finally realise this ambition is not what they want they are in their mid-30s and their boyfriends don’t want to settle down and have children with them.

Philip Burrell
Philip Burrell
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s time for Margaret Attwood’s Republic of Gilead to become reality. That might work.

Chiara de Cabarrus
Chiara de Cabarrus
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s very difficult. Nobody would want to go back to an era where women had few options and little control over their fertility. I think Louise Perry put it well: the Pill transformed marriage from biological imperative to social choice. One of the downsides being that it made possible the sort of open ended but commitment free living arrangements which arguably really backfired against women who wanted to have families . Add to this the prevailing cultural norms that for example, celebrate and encourage the idea of the unfettered individual striding through the market place of endlessly varied experience, and for whom the constraint of self imposed limitation would be considered both regressive and injurious. None of this is remotely original . I bite my tongue when in the company of my female friends who are in their thirties, and who seem to not realise that whatever Oscar Wilde said , they won’t be 35 for ever. One day , love affairs, travel and fascinating accomplishments will not seem like solid foundations for the second half of life.
On the other hand , i will contradict myself and say that I’m just as exasperated by the post liberals who present the life of the unmarried and childless human as empty of all possible worth and consolation. So i don’t know really! Except that when I was growing up , no one said “be careful, there are so many ways this culture can lose you , even as you think you are doing the right thing”.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

The ‘somehow’ means that girls are brainwashed into thinking they must have a career first and climb the professional ladder. When they finally realise this ambition is not what they want they are in their mid-30s and their boyfriends don’t want to settle down and have children with them.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago

One of the interesting things is that most women still set out in life with the intention of having children. But somehow, for a significant number, it just doesn’t happen. Or it happens so late that they are only able to have one child.

We need to know much more about that somehow, and if we wish our societies to continue and thrive, we need to do something about it.

Helen E
Helen E
8 months ago

It’s not climate doomsaying, it’s economic reality that inhibits the formation of families. How can young people have children if they cannot afford to house and care for them?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen E

Spot on. This whole issue is about wealth distribution. And I don’t mean wealth REdistribution. It should be a bell curve but too much wealth is in the hands of too few people. We’re in the end game.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
8 months ago
Reply to  Helen E

Spot on. This whole issue is about wealth distribution. And I don’t mean wealth REdistribution. It should be a bell curve but too much wealth is in the hands of too few people. We’re in the end game.

Helen E
Helen E
8 months ago

It’s not climate doomsaying, it’s economic reality that inhibits the formation of families. How can young people have children if they cannot afford to house and care for them?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago

It’s a wet Wednesday in the North West of England, and this essay is just what i needed to cheer me up!
I’m loving all these doomsday scenarios, and in this particular case, depopulation is the winner. Fried stoat, anyone?
But seriously, i’ve just watched a documentary about the future of AI, featuring several of it’s leading tech protagonists. Given the timescales involved, AI is going to be a far more pressing concern than either depopulation or climate change (if it’s changing, the reasons are almost certainly more complex than the doomsayers imagine.)
The main takeaway from the documentary was: How we proceed as a species will be determined by this generation. It’s down to us, folks.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

You are no doubt familiar with the AI doomer arguments. What is striking, is the paucity of cogent counters. From anyone. The responses I get are one of:

1. Faith based – human consciousness is God given

2. Human consciousness cannot possibly be reproduced on computers

3. It’s far into the future even if it ever becomes possible

What no one seems to want to ask is:

1. Why large numbers of AI researchers, including those at the very top, are doomers

2. Looking at the output of say, GPT-4, and evaluate how and where they are different from how humans would respond

3. Where they think AI capabilities will be in, say, two years time

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think the problem you rightly delineate comes down to the human capacity to grapple with the unknown. Whereas huge numbers of reasonably intelligent, educated people can form an opinion on climate change and depopulation, only those with highly specialised knowledge and experience in the field can envisage the short and longer term impact of AI. The responses you set out confirm this.
Just looking at 1., the response misses the very obvious point that AI won’t be human consciousness. On the other hand, one of the less impressive arguments (to me) in the documentary was that it might be possible to replicate the sophistication of the neural networks in the human brain; except, that those electronic networks won’t be subject to biology-based brain chemistry, so are bound to differ.
It’ll be a leap in the dark, and it’ll happen, because if Western powers don’t continue down the AI route (there were recent calls for a temporary stop) those other powers simply won’t have such scruples – and that’s even if they sign up to “treaties”.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think the problem you rightly delineate comes down to the human capacity to grapple with the unknown. Whereas huge numbers of reasonably intelligent, educated people can form an opinion on climate change and depopulation, only those with highly specialised knowledge and experience in the field can envisage the short and longer term impact of AI. The responses you set out confirm this.
Just looking at 1., the response misses the very obvious point that AI won’t be human consciousness. On the other hand, one of the less impressive arguments (to me) in the documentary was that it might be possible to replicate the sophistication of the neural networks in the human brain; except, that those electronic networks won’t be subject to biology-based brain chemistry, so are bound to differ.
It’ll be a leap in the dark, and it’ll happen, because if Western powers don’t continue down the AI route (there were recent calls for a temporary stop) those other powers simply won’t have such scruples – and that’s even if they sign up to “treaties”.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

You are no doubt familiar with the AI doomer arguments. What is striking, is the paucity of cogent counters. From anyone. The responses I get are one of:

1. Faith based – human consciousness is God given

2. Human consciousness cannot possibly be reproduced on computers

3. It’s far into the future even if it ever becomes possible

What no one seems to want to ask is:

1. Why large numbers of AI researchers, including those at the very top, are doomers

2. Looking at the output of say, GPT-4, and evaluate how and where they are different from how humans would respond

3. Where they think AI capabilities will be in, say, two years time

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago

It’s a wet Wednesday in the North West of England, and this essay is just what i needed to cheer me up!
I’m loving all these doomsday scenarios, and in this particular case, depopulation is the winner. Fried stoat, anyone?
But seriously, i’ve just watched a documentary about the future of AI, featuring several of it’s leading tech protagonists. Given the timescales involved, AI is going to be a far more pressing concern than either depopulation or climate change (if it’s changing, the reasons are almost certainly more complex than the doomsayers imagine.)
The main takeaway from the documentary was: How we proceed as a species will be determined by this generation. It’s down to us, folks.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

I am unmarried and have no children. There are reasons for this that most reasonable people would concede are fairly good reasons. Some would probably call me emotionally weak, unambitious, or just lazy, and I would concede there is some truth to all three statements, but because all those traits are fairly common among humans, I would contest there are other forces at work as well, most having nothing to do with me but relating instead to the culture and environment where I find myself. My brother is married with three children. I know I could not do what my brother does or live as my brother lives. I’m simply not up to the task. Trying to do so would probably make me into a very bad person, or at least a very unpleasant person. None of us get to pick where and when we’re born. We just have to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in, and at this moment, in this world as it is, it’s probably a good thing for me to not have children. Would that still be true had I been born in 1900 or 1800 when roles were different and I could have reproduced without having to change diapers or endure the constant ear splitting racket of children playing because children were disciplined not to be intolerable and wives usually did most of the rearing? Perhaps, but more likely I, like so many others born by C-section, wouldn’t have lived long enough to find out. I’ve made my peace with how things are, and I don’t blame anybody, or society, or government. It’s just how things turned out. Que sera sera…

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Wouldn’t you like to fall in love – with the right woman? You sound resigned – but also sad.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

Resigned isn’t quite right. That implies a kind of hopelessness I don’t feel. I would say I am at peace with how things are, which seems more positive to me, and I do feel positive most of the time. I am at peace with the balance between myself as I am and the universe as it is. I definitely would not use the word sad, though I can understand how it comes off that way to ordinary people who need social interaction far more than myself. I am an odd creature and averages and generalizations that cover most of humanity simply don’t extend to the outlier that is me. I don’t require nearly as much social interaction as normal folks. For normal people, spending time with others seems to be as necessary as eating or breathing, This is far less true of me. I often tell people to think of the movie castaway, and how the man makes a face on a volleyball to have someone to talk to. I cannot imagine ever doing something so silly, and I suspect my normal mental faculties would take much, much longer to be broken down by isolation than others. More likely my social skills would just decay from lack of use and if I ever got off the island, I would have a very difficult time reintegrating. Further, I don’t seem to get any benefits just being around people. It has to be specific people, and the benefits start to drop off when more than four or five people are around me. The only situations where I voluntarily enter these situations are sporting events, shopping areas, etc. where interacting with people isn’t really the point. Most persons are interesting to me when isolated, but when people start grouping together and acting collectively, they become predictable and boring at best, irritating at worst. Second, I place little value upon material things and common social measures of success (I’m poor and don’t particularly care). Third, like everybody else I have standards, which are probably radically different than the average man, but still high in the sense that relatively few women meet them. Finding a woman who A.) is not going to try to drag me into a bunch of social functions and social commitments I do not want, B.) is fine with my relative lack of material success, and C.) is also compatible in the more usual ways that everyone struggles with these days, seems like rather a long shot. I could probably go to Vegas and bet my life savings on a single spin of the roulette wheel, then double down on the next roll and still have better odds of not winding up broke than finding a partner relationship that didn’t end badly. I tried for a while before I got too old to care. When I was fifteen, I always figured if I made it to 35, the natural decline in sex drive would combine with my already relatively asocial nature to reduce my inclination towards mating enough that I’d barely feel any impetus toward the activity. It’s funny that of the many ridiculous things I believed at fifteen, that one turned out to be an accurate prediction. In any case, I appreciate your compassionate response, but there are many far more deserving and far more in need of compassion than I.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

Resigned isn’t quite right. That implies a kind of hopelessness I don’t feel. I would say I am at peace with how things are, which seems more positive to me, and I do feel positive most of the time. I am at peace with the balance between myself as I am and the universe as it is. I definitely would not use the word sad, though I can understand how it comes off that way to ordinary people who need social interaction far more than myself. I am an odd creature and averages and generalizations that cover most of humanity simply don’t extend to the outlier that is me. I don’t require nearly as much social interaction as normal folks. For normal people, spending time with others seems to be as necessary as eating or breathing, This is far less true of me. I often tell people to think of the movie castaway, and how the man makes a face on a volleyball to have someone to talk to. I cannot imagine ever doing something so silly, and I suspect my normal mental faculties would take much, much longer to be broken down by isolation than others. More likely my social skills would just decay from lack of use and if I ever got off the island, I would have a very difficult time reintegrating. Further, I don’t seem to get any benefits just being around people. It has to be specific people, and the benefits start to drop off when more than four or five people are around me. The only situations where I voluntarily enter these situations are sporting events, shopping areas, etc. where interacting with people isn’t really the point. Most persons are interesting to me when isolated, but when people start grouping together and acting collectively, they become predictable and boring at best, irritating at worst. Second, I place little value upon material things and common social measures of success (I’m poor and don’t particularly care). Third, like everybody else I have standards, which are probably radically different than the average man, but still high in the sense that relatively few women meet them. Finding a woman who A.) is not going to try to drag me into a bunch of social functions and social commitments I do not want, B.) is fine with my relative lack of material success, and C.) is also compatible in the more usual ways that everyone struggles with these days, seems like rather a long shot. I could probably go to Vegas and bet my life savings on a single spin of the roulette wheel, then double down on the next roll and still have better odds of not winding up broke than finding a partner relationship that didn’t end badly. I tried for a while before I got too old to care. When I was fifteen, I always figured if I made it to 35, the natural decline in sex drive would combine with my already relatively asocial nature to reduce my inclination towards mating enough that I’d barely feel any impetus toward the activity. It’s funny that of the many ridiculous things I believed at fifteen, that one turned out to be an accurate prediction. In any case, I appreciate your compassionate response, but there are many far more deserving and far more in need of compassion than I.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Wouldn’t you like to fall in love – with the right woman? You sound resigned – but also sad.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

I am unmarried and have no children. There are reasons for this that most reasonable people would concede are fairly good reasons. Some would probably call me emotionally weak, unambitious, or just lazy, and I would concede there is some truth to all three statements, but because all those traits are fairly common among humans, I would contest there are other forces at work as well, most having nothing to do with me but relating instead to the culture and environment where I find myself. My brother is married with three children. I know I could not do what my brother does or live as my brother lives. I’m simply not up to the task. Trying to do so would probably make me into a very bad person, or at least a very unpleasant person. None of us get to pick where and when we’re born. We just have to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in, and at this moment, in this world as it is, it’s probably a good thing for me to not have children. Would that still be true had I been born in 1900 or 1800 when roles were different and I could have reproduced without having to change diapers or endure the constant ear splitting racket of children playing because children were disciplined not to be intolerable and wives usually did most of the rearing? Perhaps, but more likely I, like so many others born by C-section, wouldn’t have lived long enough to find out. I’ve made my peace with how things are, and I don’t blame anybody, or society, or government. It’s just how things turned out. Que sera sera…

Max Price
Max Price
8 months ago

It won’t be a problem. Instead of virgins we can sacrifice the elderly to appease the wrath of Gaia.

Last edited 8 months ago by Max Price
Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Ha ha! Indeed, but at what age?

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Everybody over 65 is irrelevant. So you could get rid of all boomers and live happily ever after.
I suggest that all young people should be found a job in the NHS, which would stop treating over-65s. All waiting lists would disappear overnight and the NHS staff could all work from home – bliss.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
8 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Everybody over 65 is irrelevant. So you could get rid of all boomers and live happily ever after.
I suggest that all young people should be found a job in the NHS, which would stop treating over-65s. All waiting lists would disappear overnight and the NHS staff could all work from home – bliss.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Ha ha! Indeed, but at what age?

Max Price
Max Price
8 months ago

It won’t be a problem. Instead of virgins we can sacrifice the elderly to appease the wrath of Gaia.

Last edited 8 months ago by Max Price
Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

A good article, but I had to chuckle at this bit, where the author hopes that “that the immigrants themselves will not adopt the customs of their host societies”.

It seems that below-replacement reproduction has become one of our customs, but we still have the embers of more positive customs that we’d like to preserve and reignite. Immigration will make that much more difficult.

Immigrants won’t even necessarily solve our economic woes. Certainly we should expect worse economic performance from uncontrolled (or lax legal) immigration than the stricter, more meritocratic immigration some countries maintained until recently. Quite obviously, it’s only worth having immigrants who are net contributors.

Surely Hungary has the right answer, even if they haven’t yet done enough. One way or another, the people of the West need to return to breeding at above replacement rate. If that means we have to go fully organic, and switch education patterns so that only parents get university places, so be it.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Immigrants won’t even necessarily solve our economic woes. Certainly we should expect worse economic performance from uncontrolled (or lax legal) immigration than the stricter, more meritocratic immigration some countries maintained until recently.

Spot on. We will have very clean cars and well-made coffee, though, and the delivery of Chinese-made goods by van will be the envy of the world.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Also factor in that Hungary wants to preserve its Christian heritage. Viktor Orban is a committed Christian and so are many in his government. Perhaps we need to rediscover the Christian God? Then people may stop worshipping consumer goods? and choose to have children?

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Immigrants won’t even necessarily solve our economic woes. Certainly we should expect worse economic performance from uncontrolled (or lax legal) immigration than the stricter, more meritocratic immigration some countries maintained until recently.

Spot on. We will have very clean cars and well-made coffee, though, and the delivery of Chinese-made goods by van will be the envy of the world.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Also factor in that Hungary wants to preserve its Christian heritage. Viktor Orban is a committed Christian and so are many in his government. Perhaps we need to rediscover the Christian God? Then people may stop worshipping consumer goods? and choose to have children?

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

A good article, but I had to chuckle at this bit, where the author hopes that “that the immigrants themselves will not adopt the customs of their host societies”.

It seems that below-replacement reproduction has become one of our customs, but we still have the embers of more positive customs that we’d like to preserve and reignite. Immigration will make that much more difficult.

Immigrants won’t even necessarily solve our economic woes. Certainly we should expect worse economic performance from uncontrolled (or lax legal) immigration than the stricter, more meritocratic immigration some countries maintained until recently. Quite obviously, it’s only worth having immigrants who are net contributors.

Surely Hungary has the right answer, even if they haven’t yet done enough. One way or another, the people of the West need to return to breeding at above replacement rate. If that means we have to go fully organic, and switch education patterns so that only parents get university places, so be it.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
8 months ago

I discovered an interesting thinker yesterday – David Pinsof, an evolutionary psychologist. His research concludes that Irrespective of what we may wish to believe, we are social animals driven by status. If we want children as an end goal, then it has to be an attractive option, accruing social status, not just tax breaks. To a large degree the historical impetus was religion (the purpose of marriage being consummation and the begetting of children). Nothing less than a grand narrative, let alone the hygiene factor of affordability, will be required.
But perhaps we are limiting our imaginations. This year we saw the emergence of the artificial womb, surrogacy is exploding (from a very low base), womb transplants are on the front page. It also saw a new round in the battle between parents and state as to whom owns children (vaccination, gender affirmation, age appropriate sexualisation, etc). Perhaps the state will create baby farms, create the humans it needs, and nurture them to be new world citizens. As a non-reader of sci fi I have to believe this route has been explored. Sadly it doesn’t feel so far fetched in these days.
Or, perhaps, as Larry Page accused Elon Musk at a dinner in 2007 when Musk spoke of his fears that AGI would destroy humans, we “are being specist”. Perhaps our time has been and gone.
And I’m the optimist in our household

Last edited 8 months ago by Susan Grabston
William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

The artificial womb will indeed revolutionize gestation and eventually make natural birth obsolete but it will not solve the birth rate problem.
Robotics will help enormously. Anticipate massive funding in the coming decades.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

What are the pessimists in your household saying, as a matter of interest?

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

The artificial womb will indeed revolutionize gestation and eventually make natural birth obsolete but it will not solve the birth rate problem.
Robotics will help enormously. Anticipate massive funding in the coming decades.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

What are the pessimists in your household saying, as a matter of interest?

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
8 months ago

I discovered an interesting thinker yesterday – David Pinsof, an evolutionary psychologist. His research concludes that Irrespective of what we may wish to believe, we are social animals driven by status. If we want children as an end goal, then it has to be an attractive option, accruing social status, not just tax breaks. To a large degree the historical impetus was religion (the purpose of marriage being consummation and the begetting of children). Nothing less than a grand narrative, let alone the hygiene factor of affordability, will be required.
But perhaps we are limiting our imaginations. This year we saw the emergence of the artificial womb, surrogacy is exploding (from a very low base), womb transplants are on the front page. It also saw a new round in the battle between parents and state as to whom owns children (vaccination, gender affirmation, age appropriate sexualisation, etc). Perhaps the state will create baby farms, create the humans it needs, and nurture them to be new world citizens. As a non-reader of sci fi I have to believe this route has been explored. Sadly it doesn’t feel so far fetched in these days.
Or, perhaps, as Larry Page accused Elon Musk at a dinner in 2007 when Musk spoke of his fears that AGI would destroy humans, we “are being specist”. Perhaps our time has been and gone.
And I’m the optimist in our household

Last edited 8 months ago by Susan Grabston
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
8 months ago

I can easily imagine a world without children !!!! Especially when not mine.
The rule is one should obligingly put up with little noisy brats let lose by their parents, be it in restaurant, trains or airplanes and smile in awe.
Sorry, not on and more and more now trust themselves voicing they do not wish to have children, be it for environmental reasons ( I don’t buy this ) or simply because they couldn’t bother and prefer to enjoy a freer life.
I know the argument of ending one’s life alone. How many elderly never see their adult children ? let alone grandchildren ? A lot.
As to how children are treated, well I just grab my Charles Dickens and I remember it is not so bad today.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
8 months ago

I can easily imagine a world without children !!!! Especially when not mine.
The rule is one should obligingly put up with little noisy brats let lose by their parents, be it in restaurant, trains or airplanes and smile in awe.
Sorry, not on and more and more now trust themselves voicing they do not wish to have children, be it for environmental reasons ( I don’t buy this ) or simply because they couldn’t bother and prefer to enjoy a freer life.
I know the argument of ending one’s life alone. How many elderly never see their adult children ? let alone grandchildren ? A lot.
As to how children are treated, well I just grab my Charles Dickens and I remember it is not so bad today.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

But the warmer planet they imagine will also be a grey planet, filled with elderly people.
Florida’s present is our future.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

A visiting student from Mexico was accommodated in Bournemouth for a couple of weeks before joining us in Cambridge. He was supposedly being given time to familiarize himself with the country before starting his studies.
He was on the same course as me and when I met him he told me about his first impressions of England. He expressed his astonishment at all the old people. To him, there seemed to be no children and a huge number of the very old.
This was many years ago and since then our population has continued to age. The average number of children per family in Mexico at that time was around 5. Today it’s equal to what England’s was then.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Well, Bournemouth is a place where people retire when they are old. Perhaps the student should have stayed in Stamford Hill, north London: full of ultra-Orthodox Jews who love children and who have large families?

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Except teachers.
Apparently they all retire to Harrogate.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Ah well, retired teacher here, living in Bournemouth – but we moved to Bournemouth when I was 38, so perhaps not part of this specific conversation!

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Ah well, retired teacher here, living in Bournemouth – but we moved to Bournemouth when I was 38, so perhaps not part of this specific conversation!

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Except teachers.
Apparently they all retire to Harrogate.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Well, Bournemouth is a place where people retire when they are old. Perhaps the student should have stayed in Stamford Hill, north London: full of ultra-Orthodox Jews who love children and who have large families?

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

A visiting student from Mexico was accommodated in Bournemouth for a couple of weeks before joining us in Cambridge. He was supposedly being given time to familiarize himself with the country before starting his studies.
He was on the same course as me and when I met him he told me about his first impressions of England. He expressed his astonishment at all the old people. To him, there seemed to be no children and a huge number of the very old.
This was many years ago and since then our population has continued to age. The average number of children per family in Mexico at that time was around 5. Today it’s equal to what England’s was then.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

But the warmer planet they imagine will also be a grey planet, filled with elderly people.
Florida’s present is our future.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
8 months ago

There were 50 million in UK post war. There was no climate crisis, no pollution, no endangered species, no obesity, no drugs, little mental health problem, no overcrowded hospitals, enough trains and buses, proper education… What is there not to like in reducing the population? One generation of surplus oldies then everything rights itself.

jonausten@hotmail.co.uk jonausten@hotmail.co.uk

Finally one comment that I agree with. 200 years ago there were only a billion people and nature was beautiful and intact. Today we are comprehensively destroying the natural world, but most people just don’t care

jonausten@hotmail.co.uk jonausten@hotmail.co.uk

Finally one comment that I agree with. 200 years ago there were only a billion people and nature was beautiful and intact. Today we are comprehensively destroying the natural world, but most people just don’t care

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
8 months ago

There were 50 million in UK post war. There was no climate crisis, no pollution, no endangered species, no obesity, no drugs, little mental health problem, no overcrowded hospitals, enough trains and buses, proper education… What is there not to like in reducing the population? One generation of surplus oldies then everything rights itself.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago

One factor which the essay does not touch upon is what a threat to democracy population decline has the potential to become.

Pensioners and those shortly to become pensioners unsurprisingly vote for policies which benefit themselves, even as that makes younger generations poorer and even less likely to have children themselves, locking us in a demographic death spiral. In a population that is declining due to low fertility rates older generations alway outnumber younger ones and it will always be the grey vote that will swing elections.

In which case, we either vote ourself out of existence or the young decide that perhaps democracy is no longer the least worst form of government after all.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
8 months ago

One factor which the essay does not touch upon is what a threat to democracy population decline has the potential to become.

Pensioners and those shortly to become pensioners unsurprisingly vote for policies which benefit themselves, even as that makes younger generations poorer and even less likely to have children themselves, locking us in a demographic death spiral. In a population that is declining due to low fertility rates older generations alway outnumber younger ones and it will always be the grey vote that will swing elections.

In which case, we either vote ourself out of existence or the young decide that perhaps democracy is no longer the least worst form of government after all.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

My thoughts keep returning to this article.
I’ve been aware of the economic issues with an ageing population for a long time, and conscious that mass immigration causes more problems than it solves, but I hadn’t given much thought to what an old country would look and feel like.
As well as being poorer, and less able to defend itself against foreign aggression, an ageing society will be uglier, less creative, less intellectually productive, and as the author notes, more risk-averse.
Assuming some culture or subculture manages to keep having children, they will have an easy time dominating the oldies. They might not even need to formally abolish democracy – all they’d need to do is scare people into submission, like they did with COVID.
When nobody is fit enough to smash the surveillance cameras, and most people are more inclined to grumble at home than to protest on the streets, creeping totalitarianism gets much easier.
In this situation it won’t be long before the useless eaters are euthenised.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Check Canada’s MAID laws – euthanasia now accounts for 7% of deaths in Quebec and can be applied for on the grounds of mental illness, poverty and other “slippery slope” factors.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Check Canada’s MAID laws – euthanasia now accounts for 7% of deaths in Quebec and can be applied for on the grounds of mental illness, poverty and other “slippery slope” factors.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

My thoughts keep returning to this article.
I’ve been aware of the economic issues with an ageing population for a long time, and conscious that mass immigration causes more problems than it solves, but I hadn’t given much thought to what an old country would look and feel like.
As well as being poorer, and less able to defend itself against foreign aggression, an ageing society will be uglier, less creative, less intellectually productive, and as the author notes, more risk-averse.
Assuming some culture or subculture manages to keep having children, they will have an easy time dominating the oldies. They might not even need to formally abolish democracy – all they’d need to do is scare people into submission, like they did with COVID.
When nobody is fit enough to smash the surveillance cameras, and most people are more inclined to grumble at home than to protest on the streets, creeping totalitarianism gets much easier.
In this situation it won’t be long before the useless eaters are euthenised.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

First, climate change is not new. The climate has always changed and it will always change. Its not a question of stopping it, it is a question of learning how to adapt to it.

The environment is a different question, and again, although we should do all we can to preserve as much as we can, for our own physical and mental health, it too is going to change regardless of what humans do or do not do.

Species are going to go extinct with or without us. That is not to say we should not be considerate of our impacts but at the end of the day something, a virus, a natural disaster, an inability to adapt, something will kill off almost all species at some point.

Our first and foremost concern should be for our own species and its survival. We should concern ourselves first with what humans need in their environment to thrive.

Are we better than other species, more worthy of survival? Probably. We are the only species capable of the kind of learning and adaptation that we know of. The great apes are not going to launch themselves out into deep space and escape the end of the planet, an end that is inevitable. The dolphins are not going to create a genetic library of every species ever born and carry that elsewhere. Humans very likely will. It may take hundreds or thousands of years, but we will.

A few things need to change.

We need to stop panicking about the climate and focus on adapting to it. The climate is ALWAYS going to change, continents drift, super volcanoes go off, the earths magnetic poles shift and reverse, the list of things outside our control is lengthy. The degree to which we can contribute to this is minuscule. We just are not that powerful, we are not more powerful than the natural forces we face. We will have another ice age just as we have had 5 major ones in the past. We will have more hot periods. New species will rise others will die off. Mountains will erode to nothing and new ones rise. That has been the story of our planet since its birth.

We need to take a hard look at our social and economic structures. In too many places we make having a family economically and socially too damn hard. Is it capitalism? Is it the fact that our young are living vastly extended adolescence? Is it that we have gone so far down the road of men and women not “needing” each other that they are unable to form couples? If we see value in the preservation of our species or even our cultures, we better figure it out fast.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

You’re obviously a human exceptionalist. Which is fine, but we’re just another species that will ultimately die out. The universe doesn’t care.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

As to your first point. Yes. I am a human exceptionalist. I am, if for no other reason than we are the species most likely to carry life into the future. Unless you know of some other floating rock with a bunch of sentient life…..what goes on here is it.

As to all species dying out, probably true, but that does not mean that we should not try to extend that as long as possible, up to and including moving out into space to do it.

Of course the universe does not care, but it does not need to, all that matters is that WE care.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Refreshing to read an intelligent and well-considered couple of comments, amid the short-sighted, short-termist schlock that passes for “opinion” in these sections.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Refreshing to read an intelligent and well-considered couple of comments, amid the short-sighted, short-termist schlock that passes for “opinion” in these sections.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

As to your first point. Yes. I am a human exceptionalist. I am, if for no other reason than we are the species most likely to carry life into the future. Unless you know of some other floating rock with a bunch of sentient life…..what goes on here is it.

As to all species dying out, probably true, but that does not mean that we should not try to extend that as long as possible, up to and including moving out into space to do it.

Of course the universe does not care, but it does not need to, all that matters is that WE care.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I agree with everything you say (especially your attempt to bring sanity to the climate doomsday argument.)

Tim Aldiss
Tim Aldiss
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Cue other science fiction novels, such as Stapledon’s Last and First Men…

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

You’re obviously a human exceptionalist. Which is fine, but we’re just another species that will ultimately die out. The universe doesn’t care.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I agree with everything you say (especially your attempt to bring sanity to the climate doomsday argument.)

Tim Aldiss
Tim Aldiss
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Cue other science fiction novels, such as Stapledon’s Last and First Men…

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

First, climate change is not new. The climate has always changed and it will always change. Its not a question of stopping it, it is a question of learning how to adapt to it.

The environment is a different question, and again, although we should do all we can to preserve as much as we can, for our own physical and mental health, it too is going to change regardless of what humans do or do not do.

Species are going to go extinct with or without us. That is not to say we should not be considerate of our impacts but at the end of the day something, a virus, a natural disaster, an inability to adapt, something will kill off almost all species at some point.

Our first and foremost concern should be for our own species and its survival. We should concern ourselves first with what humans need in their environment to thrive.

Are we better than other species, more worthy of survival? Probably. We are the only species capable of the kind of learning and adaptation that we know of. The great apes are not going to launch themselves out into deep space and escape the end of the planet, an end that is inevitable. The dolphins are not going to create a genetic library of every species ever born and carry that elsewhere. Humans very likely will. It may take hundreds or thousands of years, but we will.

A few things need to change.

We need to stop panicking about the climate and focus on adapting to it. The climate is ALWAYS going to change, continents drift, super volcanoes go off, the earths magnetic poles shift and reverse, the list of things outside our control is lengthy. The degree to which we can contribute to this is minuscule. We just are not that powerful, we are not more powerful than the natural forces we face. We will have another ice age just as we have had 5 major ones in the past. We will have more hot periods. New species will rise others will die off. Mountains will erode to nothing and new ones rise. That has been the story of our planet since its birth.

We need to take a hard look at our social and economic structures. In too many places we make having a family economically and socially too damn hard. Is it capitalism? Is it the fact that our young are living vastly extended adolescence? Is it that we have gone so far down the road of men and women not “needing” each other that they are unable to form couples? If we see value in the preservation of our species or even our cultures, we better figure it out fast.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

I really enjoyed this essay. Not sure if any of it is based on reality – I have no idea – but it certainly paints a vivid picture.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

I really enjoyed this essay. Not sure if any of it is based on reality – I have no idea – but it certainly paints a vivid picture.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

Increasingly, I feel like those of us who *have* reproduced at above the replacement rate should get out of the Ponzi scheme welfare states, and move to (or form) pronatalist countries.

The question is where.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Ooh, my first -1.
I’d like to understand the objection. I feel like we’ve done our part for society, and others are freeloading, expecting my children to support them in their old age.
This isn’t just a matter of NHS and state pensions, which are funded out of current taxation. With fewer people producing goods and providing services, the private sector will also shrink, and private pensions will also be at risk.
Our only hope, economically, is the rise of the machines, but that comes with problems of its own.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Hungary? Or North Dakota?

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Ooh, my first -1.
I’d like to understand the objection. I feel like we’ve done our part for society, and others are freeloading, expecting my children to support them in their old age.
This isn’t just a matter of NHS and state pensions, which are funded out of current taxation. With fewer people producing goods and providing services, the private sector will also shrink, and private pensions will also be at risk.
Our only hope, economically, is the rise of the machines, but that comes with problems of its own.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Hungary? Or North Dakota?

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
8 months ago

Increasingly, I feel like those of us who *have* reproduced at above the replacement rate should get out of the Ponzi scheme welfare states, and move to (or form) pronatalist countries.

The question is where.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
8 months ago

For those who are fixated on apocalypse, the only good response to having your prediction turn out wrong is to immediately flash to the opposite pole of disaster. So now that we know there is no Population Bomb, there can’t just be normalcy and balance. There can only be the opposite pole of no more children.
OK, Doomer…

Gordon Hughes
Gordon Hughes
8 months ago

Why would anyone take this kind of stuff seriously? Set aside the odd cherry-picked reference to China. Then note that the population of Africa is greater than that of all Western countries together and is likely to continue increasing for several decades. Of course, demographic booms and busts occur but it is completely implausible to believe that the world’s population will be less in 2100 or even 2200 than several times its level in 1800 or 1900. We haven’t adjusted to the long term effects of the sanitary revolution and increased life expectancy.
All this turgid literary stuff is simply the by-product of ignorance and misplaced techno-optimism/pessimism. Has no-one noticed that the populations of the US and the UK continue to grow quite rapidly?Admittedly this is a result of migration but it was ever thus. And despite the supposedly awful prospects for young people there is no shortage of economic migrants who welcome the opportunities and want to take every advantage of the improvement in their life prospects.
Ultimately, pseudo-evolutionary logic would suggest that the rich pessimists are voluntarily handing over the future to the less prosperous optimists. Arguments about protecting the planet are entirely self-destructive.

Gordon Hughes
Gordon Hughes
8 months ago

Why would anyone take this kind of stuff seriously? Set aside the odd cherry-picked reference to China. Then note that the population of Africa is greater than that of all Western countries together and is likely to continue increasing for several decades. Of course, demographic booms and busts occur but it is completely implausible to believe that the world’s population will be less in 2100 or even 2200 than several times its level in 1800 or 1900. We haven’t adjusted to the long term effects of the sanitary revolution and increased life expectancy.
All this turgid literary stuff is simply the by-product of ignorance and misplaced techno-optimism/pessimism. Has no-one noticed that the populations of the US and the UK continue to grow quite rapidly?Admittedly this is a result of migration but it was ever thus. And despite the supposedly awful prospects for young people there is no shortage of economic migrants who welcome the opportunities and want to take every advantage of the improvement in their life prospects.
Ultimately, pseudo-evolutionary logic would suggest that the rich pessimists are voluntarily handing over the future to the less prosperous optimists. Arguments about protecting the planet are entirely self-destructive.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
8 months ago

Biology is destiny. It is also a b***h. Humans are vertebrates and as such are divided into wombed and spermed individuals. The wombed individuals give birth to the next generation of the species. It works as long as they only have few options and little control over their fertility (quoting  Chiara de Cabarrus).
But you can’t have it both ways.
One strong argument against intelligent design is the way human babies are born. Who would not want to avoid the pain and dangers that go with it if she has the option and the control to do so? The other argument is the emergence of self-conscious mind that creates societies where biology can be sabotaged by ideology. Only malevolent intelligence would create such beings.
So we now live in an age when the wombed humans have lots of options and considerable control over their fertility. Once they have that, they will pick the more rational choice. Corner office versus kids’ corner in the living room. And their spermed partners, they don’t care as long as they can have sex. There are always dogs that can be called “my baby” if one has the need of emoting.
Who knows what the distant future will bring, maybe embryos will be created from stem cells and grown to newborns in glass pods, but, staying on the current trajectory, our species can sabotage biology only to its peril.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Given that low birth rates are a global problem with only Africa currently above replacement level and even there falling fast, the proposed solution of more immigration makes absolutely no sense at all.
Successful countries such as the USA will continue to attract the best and brightest no matter how bad the situation becomes but the rest of the world is going to continue to depopulate.
Countries depending on consumer demand and exports are going to be hit very hard indeed.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

Given that low birth rates are a global problem with only Africa currently above replacement level and even there falling fast, the proposed solution of more immigration makes absolutely no sense at all.
Successful countries such as the USA will continue to attract the best and brightest no matter how bad the situation becomes but the rest of the world is going to continue to depopulate.
Countries depending on consumer demand and exports are going to be hit very hard indeed.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Shaw
Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
8 months ago

“All eyes are on the boiling planet.”

Not all, no.

Last edited 8 months ago by Cho Jinn
Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

Reducing human numbers will only be a boon to the remaining populations if the economic consequences can be avoided. This will happen if humanoid robots and advanced AI ( or humanlike artificial intelligence) replaces all human labour. Fortunately this is likely to happen in the next 20 years and diseases of ageing may be substantially relieved as well. Add to this nuclear fusion to power everyone’s robot carer it servant then there will be no need for children who will have no employment in any case. The planet will also remain habitable for the remaining humans whose lifespans, both healthy will be extended by many decades

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

What a horrid, selfish, vision.

That is the epitome of a useless culture, stagnant and decrepit and selfish.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Most people will ( including me) will like the idea of living a long time and having a robot servant or even a robot companion so there is no stopping this.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Most people will ( including me) will like the idea of living a long time and having a robot servant or even a robot companion so there is no stopping this.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

The development of highly interactive sexbots with advanced AI is inevitable and unstoppable. So too is the artificial womb. The financial and business rewards are simply too great. Make no mistake, as AI advances the sexbots will eventually be indistinguishable from real humans and, not all, but a majority of men will find their company more than adequate. Based on female nature this seems unlikely to be reciprocated for women. Ultimately, these inventions will liberate men from intimacy with women. Not all men, but a large percentage. The sexes will lead increasingly separate lives. Feminists have written about the end of men. It’s more likely that it will be the end of women since their usefulness in society will rapidly decline.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Oooof. I’ll wager there’s plenty of truth in that. It won’t go down well in some quarters however.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

This sounds too horrible to happen i.e. I think men and women will rethink their relationship and realise that interacting with other humans of the opposite sex is the real future – as it always was in the past.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Oooof. I’ll wager there’s plenty of truth in that. It won’t go down well in some quarters however.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

This sounds too horrible to happen i.e. I think men and women will rethink their relationship and realise that interacting with other humans of the opposite sex is the real future – as it always was in the past.

Daniel P
Daniel P
8 months ago

What a horrid, selfish, vision.

That is the epitome of a useless culture, stagnant and decrepit and selfish.

William Shaw
William Shaw
8 months ago

The development of highly interactive sexbots with advanced AI is inevitable and unstoppable. So too is the artificial womb. The financial and business rewards are simply too great. Make no mistake, as AI advances the sexbots will eventually be indistinguishable from real humans and, not all, but a majority of men will find their company more than adequate. Based on female nature this seems unlikely to be reciprocated for women. Ultimately, these inventions will liberate men from intimacy with women. Not all men, but a large percentage. The sexes will lead increasingly separate lives. Feminists have written about the end of men. It’s more likely that it will be the end of women since their usefulness in society will rapidly decline.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
8 months ago

Reducing human numbers will only be a boon to the remaining populations if the economic consequences can be avoided. This will happen if humanoid robots and advanced AI ( or humanlike artificial intelligence) replaces all human labour. Fortunately this is likely to happen in the next 20 years and diseases of ageing may be substantially relieved as well. Add to this nuclear fusion to power everyone’s robot carer it servant then there will be no need for children who will have no employment in any case. The planet will also remain habitable for the remaining humans whose lifespans, both healthy will be extended by many decades

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago

A declining birth rate is the natural order of the human species and should be celebrated on so many different levels.
Imagine a future without children? I don’t need to thankfully, what a blessing.

Robbie K
Robbie K
8 months ago

A declining birth rate is the natural order of the human species and should be celebrated on so many different levels.
Imagine a future without children? I don’t need to thankfully, what a blessing.