The Fruits of Civilization (87) The Future

The Future

The history of the world’s population growth rate vividly illustrates humans with the breeding instincts of bacteria. To the mid-20th century, populations grew practically as quickly as resources could be exploited. Then a slowdown in reproduction rates occurred, as the marginal cost of additional offspring outweighed the benefits for people in developed economies. In agrarian societies, children are a helping hand. For city folk, a child is another mouth to feed, and another logistic issue.

In the aggregate, population and economic growth rates highly correlate. The economic growth rate peaked shortly before the population growth rate responded in the late 20th century.

As of 2015, the United Nations expected world population growth in 2100 to be 0.1% (as shown on the graph on the previous page). That is optimistic.

Along with countless other species, people are to be casualties of the pollution and climate change they wrought with their technologies and economics. The first alarming inkling of this will only come when human populations start dying off in large numbers: people are collectively slow to catch on.

As climate change increasingly takes its toll, the failure of governments to address the root of the problem – capitalism – may become more obvious to all concerned. That creeping realization has barely started.

Certainly, the water and food shortages won’t help. But it will be faltering optimism and loss of faith that cause economies to stutter and fall in the wake of widespread unrest. Capitalism always was, after all, just a confidence game.