Demographic Winter

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Scott_Mack's picture
Scott_Mack
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Demographic Winter

 I originally emailed this letter direct to Chris, but I post it here in the hope it will promote a bit of thought and/or discussion.

 

Dear Chris,

I am a father and like yourself homeschool my children. I have lived in fairly self-sufficient rural situations in the past in my life but have now relocated to Sydney (Australia) to pursue a career.

Not all of your presentation (The Crash Course) was news to me. Usually when new ground is broken it is through the integration of ideas (or fields) that sheds the new light. Your background has obviously allowed you a certain perspective but more importantly I believe it is your interest in pedagogy that has afforded you clarity. I too love to make complex things simple, and it is often by teaching that one comes to know a subject best.

It is a long lost principle in philosophy that the greater the intellect the less ideas it has - not more. We can pull something apart to understand it, but if we never put it back together it will never work again. Furthermore, it is easier to pull something apart than to put it back together. Therefore, the man who can integrate the parts is greater than the man who exults in the exploded-parts diagram and tries to intimidate the other by the complexity of a great number of parts. In conclusion to these thoughts I would assert that once men wrestle with a paradox (such as this) and dispel the false dichotomies then their intelligence will give way to wisdom.

Now to the data. My question to you is this...can you integrate into your thinking the impact of what many are calling the imminent 'demographic winter' that threatens mankind. Your presentation implies that the world population will continue to rise at the rate that it has. Many (possibly the majority) of the top demographers are in agreement with each other, but unfortunately not with you. I think there may be a gaping hole in your research and so I offer you a link that may interest you:

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5405261826557501257

 

Take particular notice of what Phil Longman says about certain demographic trends that are hard to absorb for those who like him were raised on Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin. Darwinism asserts that organisms always breed up to the limits of their resources and this is what causes the competition and the survival of the fittest- according to the theory. Human beings stand as an exception to this…

I would be interested in any feedback you may have after watching this video. Thankyou for sharing your research so freely, it has helped me to re-evaluate a few of my priorities.

Kind Regards

Scott

Arthur Vibert's picture
Arthur Vibert
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Re: Demographic Winter

Typical religious right propaganda. Even if it were true (and a casual browse reveals plenty who disagree with the central premise as well as others who agree with the premise but not with the consequences suggested by this video) there are plenty of other more pressing problems that need to be addressed first.

Arthur

Scott_Mack's picture
Scott_Mack
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Re: Demographic Winter

To quote (paraphrase) Mark Regnerus Phd from the video:

“There is a dispute between people who are making moral claims about family, divorce, co-habitation, gay marriage etc and people who are making data based claims…those of use who are making data based claims and are trying to steer clear of making moral claims and are largely in agreement about the troubled waters we are about to boat into…”

My suggestion is that the demographic question must be integrated into the solution. It is not the only problem, Arthur, and therfore it alone doesn't hold the solution. The word demographics came into Chris' presentation a few times and yet there only seemed to be one graph...the exponential one. This single graph is what my post brings to your attention for discussion. If you can disregard such eminent demographers as the ones in the video with a slur like "Typical religious right propoganda" then I consider you part of the problem and not part of the solution. In fact, if you look at what propoganda really is, then your post fits my definition quite nicely.

 

 

Navarone's picture
Navarone
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Re: Demographic Winter

This video

http://www.guba.com/watch/3000053112

explains the root of the problem much more clearly.

Scott_Mack's picture
Scott_Mack
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Re: Demographic Winter

Thank you Dr. Bartlett for explaining exponential growth...at least 50 times!

You will get no argument from me about exponential functions - but this is about demographics (and this guy is a physicist). Explaining exponential growth to a demographer would be like explaining a noun to a professor of literature. He talked a lot about the doubling time but very little about the falling rates  of world population growth. BTW this video was made in 1994 and was based on a paper Dr. Bartlett wrote in 1978! It might be useful to refer to something current as fertility rates have dropped significantly since then! Furthermore, we don't need a physicist to explain exponential growth to us - my 10 year old could do that...

If we narrow our view of population growth rates to that of a city or of a country it can vary widely. For example, here in Australia there are ghost towns that have been abandoned, but this has no relevance to the national population growth rate - which has been growing but only due to immigration as Australia's birth rate is well below replacement (along with the vast majority of the planet). 

At any given time there is only a segment of the population that can expand - the breeding class. This is only a 30 year window in your life when you can actually reproduce. Now...no matter how hard I try there is no way I can produce one more Baby-Boomer. That generation is a fixed number and is the largest class in human society. Along with the health revolution this 'demographic bulge' delays the effect that plummeting birth rates have on the global population. Thus, paradoxically, despite the below replacement birth rate, the population continues to climb - for now. Phil Longman asserts that the world population is expected to rise another 1.8 billion before it crests the demographic hump, which will coincide with the passing of the Boomers. You simply MUST look at the populations of different age groups to understand the arithmetic. The economic consequences of this inevitability? Now there is an interesting question that someone like Chis might like to have a stab at...that is why I am spending anytime on this forum at all.

Even if you don't accept that the world population will peak and then fall, maybe you could hypothesise on the economic effect if it did...it is certainly an outcome that many would consider desirable and many are setting about to achieve - not the least of which are the students of Eugenics.

I hope there is no argument over the fact that as the first wave of Boomers retire that we will have a smaller working (and breeding) class supporting a larger retired class. Our government amongst many others in the developed world has been making some attempt to address this inevitability for decades. Now they are one of many governments who are buying babies in a last-ditch attempt...

If you can agree on this then ask yourself the next question...what will happen to the world population when the Boomer generation is dead and gone? Even if the next generation starts breeding above replacement it is still a much smaller breeding class than the previous. I would like to ask Dr. Bartlett to apply his exponential functions to negative growth rates and see how long it would take the population to halve. The arithmetic works the same in reverse. Maybe look at it this way, if no babies were born from this day forward then we'd be as good as extinct in a mere 50 years - guaranteed. (notwithstanding the laboratory!)

Brainless's picture
Brainless
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Posts: 150
Re: Demographic Winter

I think one of the insustainable is 'retirement'. It has somehow have to be replaced with death. What is better than a complete economic meltdown that will wipeout everybodies retirement, with wellfare unavailable or at a very low level old people will die of quickly. You can call it a culling.

In my country The Netherlands the birth rate is too low to keep our welfare state running. In my second home Thailand there is also a birthrate that is too low. Two very different countries, one with and one without welfare and they have the same problem. It comes back to economy, in a boom people are busy with careers and not think about a great disturbance in their career by having a baby. It used to be that the man worked and the woman stayed home to take care of the house and children (Baby boom). I not say woman should stay home but it has not changed into a system where 50% woman and 50% man stay at home to take care of house and children. It has shifted to both people working to pay for all the shiny new things and when there are children dumping them into childcare (high costs) at a very young age, causing all other kinds of problems. When there is an economic downturn city people are afraid to loose their jobs, find a second one when possible but still are not thinking about babies because it is so inconvenient to your livestyle your hanging on. Another mouth to feed is not what will be in your mind.

The problem started when people moved to cities and started to have more interest in careers and shiny new toys then anything else. 

With less people working and making money there will be less products to sell. A growing economy will be impossible, instead we should focus on a sustainable economy. In Thailand they are starting with that, i don't know if it will work because greed is such a strong feeling.

My wife worked before, she now is at home taking care of our children, me and the house. Her work is more demanding than mine. She loves her 'career' of raising children which is my second more valued 'career' too. Our 'shiny toys' are our children.

 

Arthur Vibert's picture
Arthur Vibert
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Posts: 116
Re: Demographic Winter

I stand by my slur.

Arthur 

fredbrent's picture
fredbrent
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Re: Demographic Winter

TOO BAD

Headless's picture
Headless
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Re: Demographic Winter

Scott, What is your religion and how many kids do you have?

 

Aside from that, the U.S. will likely see the equivalent of "Demographic Winter," though not for any of the proposed "reasons" in the film you posted; it will be due to the sacking of the American middle class by Wall Street, which has thus left Everyone with No Money; money to support all those low-wage jobs that the desperate people of Mexico came for in the first place.

The complete lack of oversight by our "government" has caused a self-fulling prophecy; that is to say, we need a growing population to keep those houses 'a sellin' (and/or rented), but as the country is now broken, you can't make a living here as a recent immigrant, legal or illegal:

http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12775579

 

Extending the depression: What has, in effect, and without intention, been achieved here by the "government's" actions over the last decade or two (or beginning with the planting of the seeds of destruction; think Reagan), is not unlike what happened in the early 30's:

 “In the last quarter of 1931 repatriation reached massive proportions; the roads leading to the Texas-Mexico border became congested with returning repatriates.”

http://www.epcc.edu/nwlibrary/borderlands/24/mex%20repat.htm

This is going to be a huge factor in the desperate attempt Paulson and Bernanke are making to overcome the plunge in real estate values; it has only just begun; it is unavoidable, in my opinion.

NZO

 

Arthur Vibert's picture
Arthur Vibert
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 16 2008
Posts: 116
Re: Demographic Winter

The demographic crisis that the baby boomers are facing is well documented, and anyone who is even slightly savvy about these matters is almost certainly aware of it.

So I would like to examine the basic premise of this film, which is that population is headed for an inevitable decline and that our lives will be much the worse for it.

At the dawn of the industrial revolution when fossil fuel inputs started to become increasingly common the world population stood at roughly 1 billion. Scientists estimate that without fossil fuel inputs for everything from industrial agricultural machinery to the use of natural gas to generate chemical fertilizers to the creation of pesticides to the transporting of agricultural goods the earth is capable of supporting between one and two billion people, although NOT at the current standard of living Americans or Europeans enjoy. Since we have just passed, are at or are just about to pass peak oil it seems that banking on the continued easy availability of these resources is foolish.

It is interesting to look at the curve of population increase and compare it to the curve of fossil fuel use. Could there be a correlation? I wonder...

What has been the impact of 6.5 billion people on the earth? Overfishing to the point of driving entire fish species to extinction, not to mention the US-sized floating mass of plastic in the North Pacific, the degradation of our air, water and soil, loss of habitat and extinction for land animals, shortages of natural resources that will become increasingly problematic, resource wars, pandemic disease (currently in the form of AIDS but there will be more) and that's just the short list. Without fossil fuels we would have passed the limits of the environment to suppport us long ago. We will soon have the opportunity to know how that feels.

So I am hard pressed to understand how generating MORE people is going to help us out. While no one is suggesting any of this is going to be easy, it is nothing but madness to think that increasing the population will be the way back to good times.

Arthur 

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