Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to lament about a potential population collapse as the world sees falling fertility rates. In his Twitter thread, Musk also shared reports from BBC and NPR from 2020 and 2021 that have warned of ‘jaw-dropping’ fertility rates.
A declining human population would probably not be the worst of news in a world that is already be fighting over water and hasn’t really figured out how it will feed close to 10 billion people by 2050. Rising global temperatures and dropping forest covers are also problems that need to be mitigated and would probably find a little relief if the population does not balloon very soon.
Musk, however, is more worried about falling numbers. Business Insider reported him saying last month that human civilization could crumble if the falling birth rates were not arrested.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the fertility rate in the U.S. was far lower than the replacement rate that is needed to replace a generation, NPR reported. A hypothetical set of 1,000 women must give 2,100 births to achieve the replacement rate but current numbers are currently around 1,600 births, the lowest since 1979.
The numbers have been declining not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world, as 183 out of 195 countries have fertility rates below replacement levels, BBC reported. Citing a study published in Lancet, BBC reported that by the year 2100, the number of 80-year-olds will soar from the current 141 million to 866 million. This will create a world very different from the one we currently live in and require a major rethink of global politics and how society is arranged.
Musk’s warning might be coming against this backdrop but he went on to belittle it by linking it to his company’s plans to send humans to Mars.
If there aren’t enough people for Earth, then there definitely won’t be enough for Mars ☹️
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 18, 2022
Just a couple of days ago, Musk had warned that an expanding sun needed humans to explore inter-planetary life but the receding population is definitely putting a spoke in his plans.
However, it’s not clear whether Musk realizes the reasons behind the population decline or not. Over the past few decades, more women have been educated, have entered the workforce and became financially independent, gained access to contraception, and most importantly, earned a say in matters of bearing children, among other things.
BBC reported that countries have tried financial incentives, enhanced leaves, and free childcare to improve fertility rates, which are unlikely to find favor with Musk as well. Since Tesla CEO wouldn’t be interested in contributing, like that time United Nations’ humanitarian crisis emerged on Twitter