As any population becomes more well-educated and healthy, the replacement rate of that population decreases. This has always been true throughout human history, when correcting for external factors like war and disease, and it remains remains true today and will tend to remain true as long as humans exist. That’s because it’s not an opinion or interpretation but rather a cold hard mathematical reality. This is a thing that can be easily reduced to quantifiable concepts so we can get past arguing over whether it is a thing at all.
It’s really self-explanatory if you think about it; the more access to education and resources you have, the more things you have to do beyond the basics just to survive. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy. Getting off those bottom tiers is how we go find cures for cancer and manage information. The more time you spend out inventing new ways to manage data or cures for cancer, the more time you aren’t spending in the traditional basic activities of living organisms: consuming and converting enough energy to keep yourself alive,and propagating the species.
Additionally, the longer we live the less need there is for replacement in order to keep the species going forward. If you have fewer human beings in future generations, you have less need for the resources to support those human beings and you begin being able to effectively manage and mitigate the enormous damage we’ve been doing to this planet – and our ability to keep living on it – over the last few hundred years. Again, this is not a political question but one of reality. That damage is a thing no matter what the people on TV say about it.
That damage is self-destructive to our species.
Our species will correct its self-destructive behavior whether we like it or not.
That is what Gates was saying when he posted this tweet and accompanying article:
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) February 17, 2018
What we do to keep ourselves alive has changed radically over the years. This again is a fact that needs no supporting data pointed out, the entire history – indeed the entire concept – of technology validates that statement.
Throughout most of our history the primary equation has been “more people = more power.” We have always been tribal and separate and distrustful – often untrustworthy! – in groups, and the primary group of human beings has been the family, again by simple mathematic necessity.
In 2018, though, we’re facing a new reality: that math gets self-destructive when the numbers get too large. We are, in terms of geological time, right up against the last second we have to successfully mitigate the damage we’ve done to this planet while maintaining anything like the lives we currently know.
Survival of the species, as Heinlein pointed out, is the only absolute morality. In the past, wear and disease and mismanagement of resources and mostly abuse of power has kept the human population in check – a pandemic flu takes out a few dozens of millions of people here; a big world war maybe kills a hundred million there, and you have these huge pruning events that, while brutal and certainly nothing any sane human being would contemplate doing intentionally, have served to prevent overpopulation from becoming the problem that it could be. (Next)