Not-so-distant Future of Humanity

This is an excerpt from the book “Energy and the Future of Humanity”. Will technological progress change the nature of human species? Will it affect geopolitics?

Chapter 14. Future of Humanity

What awaits humanity in the next hundred years? Although none of the contemporary generations would live that long, some of them will witness and recognize the new trends as they age. To understand social dynamics and its possible outcomes, it is not suffice to identify and predict the progress of technology. Of no less, or perhaps even of greater importance, are demographic trends. They all are interconnected, and the outcome of their interaction is a new trend, which is already traceable and could be extrapolated into the future.

Scholarly understanding of demographics, and its correlation with technology, have undergone considerable transformation in the last 150 years. However, judging by contemporary forecasts, it is still under influence of Malthusian theory, whose ground was laid out by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). Its essence is the concept that population grows is faster than food supply. This inevitably brings into play the nature’s mechanisms of equilibrium: epidemics, wars, famine, and other possible ‘positive’ (as Malthus had put it) factors, which reduce the population to match the food supply.

In essence, this was not so much a theory as an observation of facts and trends, projected into the future. Indeed, up to twentieth century this was a mechanism, which regulated human population growth. In general, this is the way the nature balances population of any species in animal kingdom. However, in the twentieth century the pattern of demographics had changed, defying the nature’s mechanism, as shown in the table 18 below.

Table 24. World Population Growth

Year millions
1700 682
1750 791
1800 978
1850 1,262
1900 1,650
1950 2,561
1999 5,978
2008 6,707
2014 7,215

Population growth since 1950s was exponential. Progress in agricultural technology and medicine led to increased food production, which growth was as fast, or even faster, than the population growth. But, at the same time, other forces and trends came into play, which carry with them the gene of destruction.

This is not a sci-fi fantasy: in the following discussion this notion will be supported by statistics and logical relations between cause and effect.

In the previous history of humanity, the population growth, along with the improved food supply, was attributed to fertility rate. The more kids a family could afford to feed, the more kids they produced. The limit was only a woman’s fertility rate, which is the number of children born per woman during her childbearing years.

No knowledge of mathematics is required to understand that at least two children per family are required to replace the parents and maintain the same number of people in a society. In reality, a fraction more than 2 children is needed for the same purpose, as different ailments cause mortality among the new-born, illness affecting fertility of new generations, etc.

In the last 50-60 years statistics shows that two demographics trends have developed, which had no precedent in the previous history of humanity: diminishing fertility rate, which supposed to slow or stop the population growth, and actual fast population growth. This looks like a puzzle: these two trends should not co-exist with each other. But in reality they work together.

If looked through the lenses of Malthusian theory, humanity entered the era of paradox: the better off a country, the less is its population fertility rate. Another words, the more food and better quality of life a family could get, the less is a number of children they are willing to raise. The table 25 demonstrated this, showing statistics of born children per woman in the some populous countries (excluding India).

Table 25. Children born per woman in 2014

County Births per woman
US 2.01
Australia 1.77
Russia 1.61
China 1.55
Germany 1.43
Italy 1.42
Japan 1.4
South Korea 1.25
Hong Kong 1.17
Singapore 0.8

The average number for all Europe (West and East) and Russia is roughly 1.6. Slightly larger is this number in poor countries, but nonetheless their fertility rate is quickly diminishing. What was the cause? After all, living conditions now are much better than in any time in the past.

There are a few interrelated factors. The most important one is accelerated urbanization in almost all countries in the world. As a UN report stated, “The urban population of the world has grown rapidly since 1950, from 746 million to 3.9 billion in 2014.” This means that “In 1950, 70 percent of people worldwide lived in rural settlements and 30 percent in urban settlements. In 2014, 54 percent of the worldwide population is urban.”

With urbanization, the following factors came into play.

  • Living space in cities is expensive, and overall conditions are not conducive to large families
  • Growing children is expensive. Most people decide to improve their living conditions rather than have many children
  • In rural areas in the past, having big family made sense: kids took care of their parents when they get old and helpless. When kids were in their infancy and in adolescent years, they were a work force, which helped their families with agricultural activity. In the city this is no longer a consideration
  • More people get college and  higher education. Couples postpone the birth of their first child until after the education is completed, and often for a later date. The time span when a woman can get children shortens
  • People born in educated family tend to get college and higher education as well, this way joining the population with low fertility rate
  • Women have different psychological disposition in urban areas. Most of them chose not be a slave to their kids and family, but rather opt to have education, career, and better quality of life.

Urbanization is irreversible trend all over the globe. It goes in parallel with increased income per family, growing productivity in agriculture and, with it, low fertility rate.

Another factor is improved quality of life due to technological advances. Because of it, life expectancy is on the rise. Although new generations come with diminishing numbers due to lower fertility rate, older generation live longer, this way affecting population growth. This is the primary cause of population growth in the last few decades.

To understand the actual affect of diminishing fertility rate and aging population on demographics, let us consider a fictitious situation: a small country demographics, in which fertility rate is 1, which means one child per family.

For the sake of simplicity, I present an imaginary Happy Planet Republic. It starts its life with 16 couples, total 32 people, all aged 25. Their fertility rate is 1. Its generation structure is shown in Table. 26.

Table 26. Happy Planet Republic – start

Generation Age Number of people Total Comment
1 25 32 32 First generation

Its demographics will progress under the following assumptions:

  • A woman’s reproduction years are from 25 to 50, which is statistically true for a one-child family.
  • Life expectancy is 75 years. Although more people will be older than that, their number does not affect reproduction years, and therefore has no affect on how many people are born from the following generations. Therefore, in long term the outcome will be the same.

 

Twenty five years later, the second generation is born. The demographics of the Republic is presented in Table 27.

Table 27.  Happy Planet Republic – 25 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
1 26 32 16 couples
2 1 16 48 Population increased

The second row shows that 16 children were produced by 16 couples. The first generation consist of 32 people, the second generation of 16 people, altogether there were 48 people.

50 years later (25 years after the second generation was born) – the third generation was born (table 28). This change is shown in table 28.

Table 28. Happy Planet Republic – 50 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
1 51 32 First generation
2 26 16 8 couples
3 1 8 56 Further growth

In the table 28, there are 32 people 51 years old, who started the Happy Planet republic. There are 16 people of the second generation, and 8 people from the third generation. The Planet grew to 56 people. Then, the cumulative affect of low fertility rate and aging population takes place. After another 25 years, 75 years after the Planet has started, the 4th generation is born. The Planet population suddenly drops the first time, as shown in table 29.

Table 29. Happy Planet Republic – 75 years later.

Generation Age Number Total Comment
1 76 0 Starters – no one lives
2 51 16 8 couples
3 26 8 4 couples
4 1 4 28 Drop 50%

In the table 29, the first generation, older than 75 years of age, disappeared according to the assumption that the life expectancy is 75 years. After initial robust population growth in the Happy Planet Republic, there is a sudden drop of 50 percent in the number of living people. The planet is now populated only by the second generation, which is 16 people, third generation, which is 8 people, and the forth generation, which is 4 people, born by 4 couples (8 people) of the third generation.

After 25 more years elapse (100 years after the Planet had started), the second generation reaches 76 years, and therefore will no longer be living. The total population of the planet will be as shown in Table 30.

Table 30. Planet Population 100 later.

Generation Age Number Total Comment
2 76 0 Second generation
3 51 8 Third generation
4 26 4 Forth generation
5 1 2 14 Drop 50% from previous

As the Table 30 shows, the second generation is dead, therefore its number is zero.

The third generation is now 51 years old, and its number is 8. The fourth generation counts 4 people, and the fifth generation is only 2 people. The total living people on the Planet now is 14. There is a further 50 percent drop in the number of leaving people on the Happy Planet.

Another 25 years elapse, 125 years after the planet had started (Table 31).

Table 31. Planet 25 years later – 6th generation

Generation Age Number Total Comment
3 76 0 Third generation
4 51 4 Fourth generation
5 26 2 Fifth generation
6 1 1 7 Drop 50% from the previous

The third generation (Table 31) is now dead. Its number is zero. There are 4 people living from the fourth generation, two people from the fifth generation, and one from the sixth generation. Again, 50 percent drop in population number.

This is the end of Happy Planet Republic. Although 7 people are still alive, there is no further reproduction possible, and therefore no generation replacement. In fact, the end of population in this republic would come much sooner, because in order to maintain infrastructure of manufacturing, healthcare, law and order, and other industries and services, some minimum population is required. When one of economy component is reduced to zero, the whole society would plunge into chaos, which will enhance acceleration rate of mortality and degeneration of all society.

I would call such population dynamics as “gerontology fertility law.” After a short period of rapid growth, in each following period of 25 years the population of Happy Planet shrinks 50 percent.

Even more interesting is to consider the actual numbers of the countries, whose population growth is rather typical demonstration of the gerontology  fertility law. Japan is a good example, as the trend there is well established, and the first period of population meteoric growth has ended. Contemporary Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4. It is not the lowest in the region, but not the highest as well. Table 32 shows Japan’s demographics as of year 2014.

Table 32. Japan population 2014.

Age group Male female total
0-14 years 8,681,728 8,132,809 16,814,537
15-24 6,429,429 5,890,991 12,320,420
25-54 23,953,643 24,449,655 48,403,298
55-64 8,413,872 8,400,953 16,814,825
65 years and over 14,218,655 18,531,653 32,750,308
Total 127,103,388

In further discussion the assumption is the same as for the Happy Planet Republic: the average age of delivering a child is 25. Although in reality the number of births will be spread over the period from 25 to 50 years of age, the final number after the end of the period should be the same. For simplicity, the table 32 was re-arranged into the table 33.

The actual coefficient of growth for fertility 1.4 is applied to women only, which is roughly half of population. This is about 0.7, if applied to the whole population.

Table 33. Japan population by age group

Generation Age Number Total Comment
1 50-75 53,150,562 43% of population
2 25-50 41,726,981
3 0-25 29,134,957 124,012,500

25 years later, Japan population will change as shown in the table 34.

Table 34. Japan Population 25 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
1 75+ 0
2 50-75 41,726,981 46% of population
3 25-50 29,134,957
4 0-25 20,394,470 91,256,408

In another 25 year, 50 years from now, Japan population will be as in Table 35.

Table 35. Japan Population 50 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
2 75+ 0
3 50-75 29,134,957
4 25-50 20,394,470
5 0-25 14,276,129 63,805,556 Population shrinks 50%

Then, 75 years from now:

Table 36. Japan Population 75 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
3 75+ 0
4 50-75 20,394,470
5 25-50 14,276,129
6 0-25 9,993,290 44,663,889 Population shrunk to one third

Then, 100 from now:

Table 37. Japan Population 100 years later

Generation Age Number Total Comment
4 75+ 0
5 50-75 14,276,129
6 25-50 9,993,290
7 0-25 6,995,503  31,264,922 Population shrunk to 1/4

With the existing fertility rate, which likely remains the same or lower in the foreseeable future, in hundred years Japan will have just 25% of the contemporary population. In reality, population negative growth will accelerate, as fertility rate inevitably will reach 1.0 or lower, as it is now in some of Japan’s neighbours.

What will happen with the white population over the globe? The interest is not a simple curiosity. According to statistics, this race will be in the vanguard of those whose population grows conforms to gerontology fertility law.

Contemporary white population in the world is approximately 1 billion. Its fertility rate is approximately the same as in Japan, 1.4 per woman. The following numbers are a very rough approximation, but they are not meant to be the basis of an accurate forecast. Rather, they demonstrate the trend, and the final calculation does not differ much from the ones which use complex mathematical models.

Here is the dynamics of the white race demographics – Table 38:

Table 38. White Population in Year 2015

Generation Age Mln. Total mln.
1 50-75 460
2 26-50 322
3 0-25 218 1,000

Table 39. White Population 25 years later – Year 2040

Generation Age Mln. Total mln.
1 75+ 0
2 50-75 322
3 26-50 218
4 0-25 153 693

Table 40. White Population 50 years later – Year 2065

Generation Age Mln. Total mln.
2 75+ 0
3 50-75 218
4 26-50 153
5 0-25 107 478

Table 41. White Population 75 years later – Year 2090

Generation Age Mln. Total mln.
3 75+ 0
4 50-75 153
5 26-50 107
6 0-25 75 335

Table 42. White Population 100 years later – Year 2115

Generation Age Mln. Total mln.
4 75+ 0
5 26-50 107
5 26-50 75
6 0-25 53 235

The rest of the world will fair better, but not much. Urbanisation in all developing countries quickens its pace. Its current average fertility rate is just above 2. Therefore, the consequences for them will be similar to that of white race and Asian countries in Far East, such as Japan, China, Singapore, and others. The only difference is timing.

***

New trends in social life of affluent societies are precursors of the future upheavals. This has always been the case with new trends: whatever starts as a positive development, meant to improve quality of human life, turns out to be the cause of horrendous disaster. In the past, the primary goal of humanity was obtaining maximum food supply. But, as Ian Morris mentioned in his wonderful book “Why the West Rules-for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future”, when food supply grew, so did the human population of the society which achieved prosperity. In line with this grew the number of rats and mice feeding on waste, as well as viruses and bacteria, harmful to human health. Inevitably epidemics erupted, wiping out the majority of population.

Now, food production and supply is no longer a concern of an individual in the developed world. Its modern societies have enough technology and power to produce as much food as a society wants, and even more. Our medical science and its applications eliminated the risk of epidemics.

Our understanding of poverty and financial hardships has changed beyond imagination of previous generations, and more so in the eyes of really poor nations, who know better what struggle for survival and hardships mean. A very good explanation of contemporary “poverty” in the US is in the article “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About American’s Poor” by Robert Factor and Rachel Sheffield. (Sep. 13, 2014, in The Heritage Foundation).

According to the Census Bureau, a record of 46.2 million persons in America were poor in 2010. “In most years for the past two decades, the Census Bureau has declared that at least 35 million Americans lived in poverty.”  The numbers may make an impression that America is in the category of poorest countries in the world. The authors though did a thorough work in defining what it means to be poor in America. Below is the summary of living conditions of American’s poor.

  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • 92 percent of poor households have a microwave
  • Nearly three-fourths have cable or satellite TV
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR
  • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as and Xbox or PlayStation
  • 43 percent have internet access
  • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV

Close to 90 percent of poor families reported that there was never a shortage of food, clothing and other bare necessities.

There are many other interesting facts and conclusions in this article. No need to mention them all: the point is, that the notion of “hardship” and “poverty” has changed to something completely different. If in the past they meant deprivation of food, clothing and minimal shelter, now the basis of poverty definition is a comparison of living condition of a particular income category with the wealthy.

How American poverty compares with other countries?

According to UN Census, the average space per person in 2009 in America was 829 square feet (77 square meters). In “poor” households it was 515 square feet (48 square meters) per person.

In Russia, the average space per person for all population is 237 square feet (22 square meters) per person. Russia was chosen for comparison because it is not exactly a third world country, but still not a developed country by any standard.

Statistics on living space of “poor” category in Russia is hard to obtain. But the above mentioned statistics is sufficient to illustrate the point. America’s “poor” person has 2.5 times more living space than the Russian average – not poor – person. We should assume therefore that an average Russian, by American standard, lives below the poverty line. However, the Russian population does not consider itself poor: a family of 4, having living space greater than 1000 square feet (93 square meters) considers itself fairly well-off.

In general, all conditions and concerns of survival, facing previous generations, are now removed from the daily life of modern affluent society. Care for children, care for elderly, even the care for an individual’s health now in greater part is the function and burden of society and its social services. So, the struggle of individuals for physical survival is over. There is no “survival of the fittest” rule: every one survives, the strong and the weak, clever and not so. Does it create a new notion of reality in new generations? If so, what are the trends? Here they are.

Adult children live with their parents.

Interesting facts about this phenomena are in the article of Jordan Weismann, In “State” – a blog about business economy: “Why Do So Many Millenians Live with Their Parents? Two Theories: Marriage and Debt”.

In 2014, according to the Census Bureau, 15% of 25-to-34 old Americans live with their parents. There is no shortage of attempts to explain this phenomena. The most popular among them are these: delayed marriage, rising student’s debts and unemployment. But there are adults who do not have a student debt, but still live with parents. The same author points out that “…living-at-home rates actually grew faster during the recession for young adults who never attended college than those who did.”

Consideration of economy is the easiest cause to point out. However, financial difficulties had been much more severe and widespread among previous generations. The root, therefore must be in mental disposition and social notions, which sets apart the contemporary society from the previous ones. It is a systemic interaction of economic and social factors, which creates new mentality in the affluent society.

The simple fact is that living with parents was not an option in the past, but an easy choice at present. In the article of February 26, 2014, American Enterprise Institute, Mark J. Perry gives the following statistics, confirming this statement:

  • Over the last 40 years , the average home has increased in size by more than 1000 square feet [100 sq. meters], from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,679 square feet last year [2013].
  • Meanwhile, the average household size has been declining, from 3.01 persons per household on average in 1973 to a new record low of 2.54 persons per household last year.

The author concluded that “… the average amount of living space per person in a new home has almost doubled in just the last 40 years – that’s pretty amazing.”

The primary socio-economic reason why young adults live with parents therefore is affordability. Why struggle, if the living space is available for free? Why marry, to share expenses with a spouse, if good living conditions are available without an effort to obtain them?

In the literature of social studies the trends of growing consumption, be it living space, food or luxury items, is considered as positive trends in affluent societies. But statistics hides a harmful psychological impact of availability of necessities on all society. It won’t go away even if (and when), the living conditions worsen due to energy crisis or other possible events.

Single-occupancy household.

There is another interesting trend, well-presented in the Fortune article (Solo Nation: American Consumers Stay Single, by Eric Klinenberg): American nation quickly moves to a single occupant household.

In Jan. 2012, “Only 51% of adults today are married… and 28% of all households now consists of just one person – the highest level in U.S. history.”

Particularly strong this trend is in big cities in the developed world. Further in this article, “Today more than 40% of households have just one occupant in cities such as Atlanta, Washington, DC,…this rate is similar in London and Paris, and even higher – a staggering 60% – in Stockholm.”

The single household occupants is a category located on the other end of the spectrum, being opposite to those who live with their parents. They are employed, have a good income and live affluent, often intense social life. As the above mentioned article states, “Their average per capita annual expenditure was $34,471 in 2010, … compared with $23,179 per person in the highest-spending families with children.”

Is this trend good for society? One point is clear: it speeds up the trend of decreasing fertility rate, pushing it down to one or none per woman. It also changes psychology and mentality of society, but its other behavioural consequences are not obvious at the time of this writing.

Increasing number of the mentally ill

This trend is an obvious socio-economic phenomenon. The better are the living conditions, the more mental illness is widespread. For instance, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (Facts and Statistics) “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of the U.S. population).”

If the current tempo persists, the mental illness will reach epidemic worse than plague of cholera. The difference is though that cholera disappears at some point even without medication, but mental illness is not. It is hard to treat, total recovery is hardly possible. It takes its debilitating toll on work force, health system, and a society as a whole.

Single Parenthood

In the U.S., unmarried births rate among blacks jumped from 20% to 72%. Among whites from 2% to 36%, and in all groups from 3% to 41%. (National Center for Health Statistics). Similar trends recorded in other developed countries, and, in lesser extend, in the countries of developing world. As most single-parents are mothers with low income, poverty and lack of care are obvious circumstances that affect psychological and physical development of a child. Academic achievements in school, as studies suggest, is lower, and obtaining collage and university education is a remote possibility. The study shows that income level affects academic performance stronger than single-parenting, but the fact is that majority of single parents are mothers (83% in the U.S.) with a low income, often far below the poverty line.

According to EducationNext (by Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, Greg J. Duncan and Ariel Kalil) schooling completed from two-parent family in 2008 is above 35 percent, whereas from a single-parent family is below 25 percent. Even greater difference is the rate of collage completion: close to 40 percent for a two-parent family and below 10 percent for a single-parent family.

Since the time of this report, situation got worse. The point is that increase in the number of a single-parent family means the growing number of people living in poverty. Poverty breed poverty, affects educational level of a child, and leads to ant-social behaviour of those who gets deprived from a proper family environment.

Interesting data is provided in The New York Times (by Sam Dillion, Oct. 8, 2009)

  • High school dropouts are 72 percent more likely to be unemployed as compared to high school graduates
  • Nearly 80 percent of individuals in prison do not have a high school diploma

Decreasing demand for low-skill workers and ever-increasing number of school dropouts leads to higher unemployment and incarceration rate. In the same above mentioned article “…the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000.”

According to Frontline publication “Among dropouts between the ages of 16 and 24, incarceration rates were a whopping 63 times higher than among college graduates.”

Plenty of statistics is available on harmful consequences of single parenthood on the future of a child. But single parenthood rise is just one of social trends, traced in modern societies. It develops in close relations with other problems, thus affecting each other in an intricate way. Other developed countries have a similar trend. It progresses in parallel with accelerated proliferation of automation, robotics, and increased efficiency of production and service. If the trend continues, the crises, which magnitude is hard to predict, will take place in 2030. It will be caused by hundreds of million people, whom nobody needs and who have no place in the normal civilian life.

Biological deterioration of human race.

Robert Martin presents in his very interesting and informative book “How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction” a summary of reproduction scientific studies around the globe. There are a few trends, which have clearly been identified.

  • There is a convincing evidence of declining human sperm count. There is a certain minimum, below which a human reproduction is not possible. But even the count above minimum must be high enough to ensure a healthy reproduction. The author stated that as a result of diminishing sperm count, “it has become increasingly difficult to find sperm donors who meet the criteria set by fertility clinics. Himov-Kochran and her colleagues concluded that this rapid deterioration of semen quality among fertile semen donors may shut down sperm donation programs.” This goes parallel with other trends, which further exacerbate biological health of humanity: “Even more alarmingly, decreasing sperm count seem to have been paralleled by increasingly frequent abnormalities of the male reproductive system, including cryptorchidism, penis malformation, and testicular cancer.”
  • Artificial insemination became another cause of human biological degradation. Martin quoted another source that “…more than 3.5 million babies had been born world wide between 1978 and 2008 using IVF and related methods of assisted reproduction.” The consequences were far from being a pleasant surprise. “Multiple births have occurred in about one in four pregnancies, compared with only one in almost a hundred births resulting from natural conceptions. Moreover, more IVF babies are born prematurely, and perinatal mortality is almost 2 percent, double that for controls. … In a large-scale study of more than 60,000 births in Ontariom Darine El-Chaar at the University of Ottawa found that the risk of birth defects for babies born through IVF was about 60 percent higher than for those born after natural conception.”
  • A new trend was recorder in the US: a steep increase in the death rate of middle-aged Americans. According to Washington Post article of Nov. 3, 2015, it hits mostly white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education. As the author Joel Achenback put it, “An increase in the mortality rate for any large group in an advanced nation has been virtually unheard of in recent decades, with the exception of Russian men after the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

In the same article, Jonathan Skinner, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, sais: “High school graduates and high school dropouts are 40 percent of the population…… It’s not just the 10 percent who didn’t finish high school. It’s a much bigger group.” The scientists explain that “…economic insecurity, the decay of communities and the breakdown of families probably have had some impact on death and illness rates, in addition to the nation’s opioid epidemic…”

This phenomena is exclusively due to psychological and social factors, and has nothing to do with physical illnesses, such as cancer, HIV, etc. I would call it a psychological side affect of the trends in affluent societies. There is ever increasing mental load on population, which has diminishing capacity to withstand it. Since the very childhood people live with the idea that money is the primary measure of success in life. But as with any talent, it is obviously not for everyone. There are other values of a human being, such as moral, or other talents, which seldom bring financial success, but they are largely neglected by most.

The farther we are from the roots of community and social structures, developed since the dawn of humanity, the more we prone to mental illness and, as a consequence, to physical decay.

This is not the full list of trends and their associated impacts on humanity. But statistics demonstrates without a trace of doubt that enormous forces of degradation march in parallel with technological and social progress.

All above-mentioned trends raise theoretical questions: are they inseparable companions of technological and social progress, or it is something in our power to stop or reverse these trends for betterment of advanced societies? If not, what their affect on a society could be in the distant future?

In this respect it is demonstrative to recall experiments of John Calhoun, who studied affect of different conditions on behaviour of social animals. The most famous one was conducted in 1968. Calhoun set up a “Utopian universe” for mice – a limited space where food, drink and other necessities were provided. There were no predators, no conceivable dangers for life. The experiment started with just 4 pairs of mice.

The population doubled every 55 days. It reached maximum 600 mice. As stated in Wikipedia, “This period between day 315 and day 600 saw a breakdown in social structure and in normal social behavior.” The changes were drastic and profound: aggression, absence of interest in breeding, and others.  Reproduction stopped completely. Homosexuality and violence, in spite of food abundance, were rampant. The mice population moved rapidly to its extinction. On the 1780 day of experiment the last member of this community died. The mice paradise ceased to exist.

In this experiment the limit of space was just a temporary factor. The more mice population died, the more space became available for the living. However, the behavior of society, once changed, had never reversed back to the “normal” mouse pattern. As Wikipedia put it, “…behavior patterns were permanently changed.”

We can easily detect similar trends in the contemporary affluent societies. They all lead to one outcome: shrinking population.

Aftermath of shrinking population

The first consequence of shrinking population is easy to deduce: collapse of construction industry. There will be plenty of space from the previous generations, which will cost virtually nothing. The only expense will be maintenance. The world will live, the first time in human history, with huge oversupply of the living space, available for everyone.

Small cities will be abandoned, as few or any jobs will be available or needed. It would be expensive, and actually not economical, to demolish them, and they will be exposed to natural decay. There are already cities and villages like these in Russia, Italy, and some other countries.

In the suburbs, the first buildings to be abandoned will be the tallest ones. As soon as tenants start leaving them, the maintenance cost will spread among diminishing occupancy, which will force the remaining tenants to leave faster. As living space won’t be a problem in big cities, the process will accelerate.

Collapse of construction industry will bring about many other far-reaching consequences. Industries supporting construction will collapse as well. Production of construction materials, construction machinery, communication, research and development, and related services will shrink accordingly. As population will be diminishing, the need for furniture and household items will also shrink to the level close to the maintenance of the existing items, or to the needs of their replacement.

As the productivity and living standard will be high, there will be no incentive to conduct research and development, or further increase productivity.

Apparently, fewer young people will be interested in obtaining college or higher education, as career won’t give much advantage over those who are not on the same education level.

There will be more people who do not work, than in any previous period of the human history. This will be not only because the scarcity of jobs. The main reason will be that people will not want to work. This is actually an obvious contemporary trend in the developed world. According to Time magazine, “Nearly 40% of people in the United States aged 16 to 24 say that they don’t want a job, accounting for a sizable portion of the 92 million Americans who are currently outside the labour force..” The number is 36.8 million! Just compare this mood to China, where any job is considered a great luck!

In all likelihood, because a widespread mental illness and lack of economic stimulus for work, the work force will shrink to the level insufficient to maintain the living standard achieved by previous generations.

With such great proportion of mentally ill and unemployed people it is reasonable to suggest that violent crimes will proliferate. With it, law enforcement industry will grow accordingly.

The socio-economic statistics reflects the overall trend of the human race: it is getting older as a biological organism. This aging has nothing to do with an average age of humans at any particular moment. This aging relates to humanity as a nature species, which has gone through its young years, maturity, and is about to enter the stage of decay. It will direct its mind towards further improving its living conditions, whereby accelerating its own degeneration. At this time it is impossible to predict all debilitating changes awaiting humanity. But for sure they will come: the more natural threats of survival we remove from our lives, the more unpredictable consequences we will have to deal with.

Our civilization has removed from its existence its main condition: survival of the fittest. Now we, as a society, are responsible for wellbeing of everyone, including those who have no ability, or no will or no desire to work hard to survive. This became a fertile ground for the seeds of degeneration and decay.

International Affairs in the Shrinking World

Since the dawn of humanity, acquisition of new territories was an important incentive for countries whose economy and military power gathered strength. It meant additional natural resources, exploitation of indigenous population, and wealth for the conqueror. In the not-so-distant future, it will no linger be an incentive. With shrinking population more territory will become vacant and of no use.

For almost every country, solar, wind and other sources of energy will be sufficient for providing energy needs. Conquering other territories and societies will become an obsolete idea from the economic point of view. The disputed territories – a painful issue in the contemporary relations among some countries – will cease to be the potential cause of military confrontation.

International economy dependencies, which began in the era of ‘Globalisation’, will expand even more. Even now, any disruption in moving goods and services in the contemporary international life could bring about serous hardships in affected countries.

However, there will always be countries like Russia, whose strive for acquisition of territories has nothing to do with the consideration of economy or wealth. It is just their way to ensure their dominance, to establish themselves as a great nation, without achieving prosperity and social progress to prove it. Russia is just an example: most likely this nation, for different reasons, will deteriorate even faster than the rest of the world.

Such countries will try to establish their dominance disregarding expediency and reasons of economical prosperity. The military potential of these countries will be significant. Should we expect a strong will of more peaceful countries to resist an assault?

Considering psychological decay of the most advanced nations, it is highly unlikely.

The will of the Western World to fight back and defend its value was weakening after WWI. A strong pacifistic mood spread over Western societies. Because of it, Western European countries made one concession after another to Hitler’s demands, until the disaster, even greater than WWI, had struck: WWII.

After WWII, the pacifist ideas spread over developed world in the form of ‘Peace Movement’. Its dominant thought was an unconditional surrender to communist assault in order to prevent nuclear holocaust. At that time the world already knew too well what communists would do if they come to power: mass terror and suppression of freedom, to name a few.

At present, a serious war against the developed world seems too remote a possibility. Its war technology arsenal is too big a deterrent to anyone. It ensures the long lasting peace for Western civilization. The longer the time of peace, the weaker the will of population and politicians to resist and fight will get. This is the low of nature: if something is not used, it will succumb to decay and atrophy.

To buy this book.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Energy-Future-Humanity-Alex-Markman/dp/1530990793/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508525119&sr=1-1&keywords=alex+markman

Smashwords (PDF format): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652201

 

 

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